Truth be told, the Ghost Lab Cross was our first take on an official sanctioned race. Coming from a full 10 years of organising street racing events it is a great feeling coming full circle and there is no better timing than this.
We have talked about the Greek CX scene before, being in its infant years but there is something about it that draws us there, a vibe that reminds us of early urban cycling scene. Riding a road bike on mud squeezing MTB skills out of your body that you never thought you had…
First time we heard of Papagou in relation to CX was on a conversation with cycling legend Mr Mitsakis. He recited stories of how in the 60s and 70s they were making up CX courses on the then vast unbuild plains of Papagou in order to keep in shape during winter. As we sourced Papagou for a course we came up to this beautiful piece of park with this hidden hilly section (with the ghost medical school building) that had everything we needed for a race course: fast, loose, soft pine dirt, hilly, thick forest for zig-zags and so much curbs and banks for creative obstacles. Given that it is within city limits, it was ideal for race course.
The race started with a fixed gear cross showdown. Similar events like these have happen in Italy (namely Mudmax) and USA but they all have a certain “ridicule” element to them that we never agreed with. We wanted to make a super dialed course for fixed gear riding with lots of creative elements that would help see riders’ bike handling skills. We are chuffed that it went down so well with participants and surely we will do it again. The possibilities are vast with so many parks, deserted villas and derelict places in Athens.
Dimitris Martseleas, 16 year old and coming from Kardamyli Mani stood out straight away with super acceleration and excellent skills in the dirt. He has an immense opportunity to feature in the future being gifted with such a powerful body and maturity. He finished second after Yiannis Karagiorgos once again proved how strong he is coming from the back and covering the ground till the finish. Solid race throughout. Congrats to all that made history.
Next up was the official cyclocross race. The turn up was great and the vibe was super friendly as the Desperados mobile mini-sound machine played some punky tunes while racers were getting geared up. The sport will definitely grow and we are happy to part of this effort. Big guns like Gkinis, Gallis, Mentis and others were there along with some usual faces and also some newcomers racing cross for the first time.
A point to make here is the design of the course. We believe it is really important to design a course that will bring out the creative element of the racers showcasing their skills. Courses should be fast and flowing and they should spark up the athletes and not destroy their rhythm and kill the tempo. This course was done with this in mind and we are really happy that all racers like it and gave us kudos for it. There are so many possibilities for CX in this piece of land that we will surely use it again.
The course was starting with a sprint section as it twisted in a little spiral and followed the little water stream till the bottleneck at the point of the kiosk. Then it dropped inside another section of the park and slowly started climbing till it climaxed at this “scary” drop before it twirled within the dirt curbs coming back out around the building to the wide open space again in full gas. It was ace!
Gkinis (Thiseas CC) broke loose straight away and showed the excellent shape that he is in, with Stefanos Michail of Panathinaikos, Michalis Mentis of West Coast and Dimos Gallis of Kronos following him. A note should be made for Harris from Alfa Cycling that showed great fighting spirit and nice style while Vaggelis Zarou of PAO looked like a figure that can feature in the future and the sport surely needs people like that.
Also Apostolis Papadopoulos, a known face at CX races this season, have made incredible progress pushing and fighting constantly this winter and that has started to paid out, this time with a podium position. Good to see Odysseas CC from Petroupoli showing some team planning and always great to see Petros Gkotsis returning to action on a gravel bike.
Good to see so many friends out and we hope you all enjoyed the freshly made coffee and cookies by Takis Bakery (a local spot in Koukaki), the music, the Desperados and the super nice vibe in a true racing day. Big up to all riders that came over and to all the volunteers that helped. A great thanks to Panathinaikos CC and Sotiris Peridis for helping out and making this a reality!
Lets make it happen next year too!
All photos by Nassos Triantafyllou, visit The Cycling Journal here.
Produced by Aetos CC with the participation of Panathinaikos CC.
In collaboration with DOPAP, Municipality of Papagos/Holargos.
Sponsored by Cadence Collection, Cinelli, All City, Georgios Lafazanis Winery, Gevenalle, Desperados.
Many thanks to Dimitris and Sofia Lianou, Sotiris and Anna Peridis.
Many thanks also to Audrey form Cadence UK, Brian Dunlap of Cadence California and Amalia Lafazani.
Big up to Eva Patapatiou @Savvy and Desperados.
Music by Grand Theft Radio, visti here.
Team: Telis Koukelis, Harris Papaxaralambous, Dionysis Souliotis, Spyros Panagiotopoulos, Christian Manousaridis, Agis Kolyvas.