Report: Mani Invitational // Mountains and Beach Podiums // The 1896 Classic Marathon Race Revival IV

On May 19th, 8 years after the first 1896CMRR, the fourth edition of the race took place in the small town of Kardmyli, Mani. The most striking difference from all the other years was obviously the new location away from the buzzing convenience of Athens.

So why move away from the classic Marathon route? Why Kardamyli? After 8 years of organising the race in Athens we felt that we needed a break from the original route. Traffic, unpredictability, polution – the urban set up in general was done. We felt that a step forward for 1896CMRR would be to move away from an alleycat urban type of race and give it a more endurance spin. We wanted to bring a track race to the mountains, to beautiful vistas, fresh air, brutal grades, gargantuan panoramas and thick forests. We wanted to have people on flip-flops and swimming trunks apres-race – lounging on a beach. After all, this is Greece.

The outer side of Mountain Taygetos, namely Mani was the ideal place for us. We have traveled and rode this particular area previously and it holds some immense riding opportunities for fixed gear. Paired with a next day BBQ outing at Foneas beach and that was it, we were stoked on this new race concept.    

Racers gathered in the small town of Kardamyli from literally all over. The usual mix of characters, ranging from fixed gear scene riders to alt-roadie types and some endurance first timers. The most obvious attraction this year was a great mix of guests from USA. They all came to support the race and spread the cycling stoke to the Greek scene and local crowd.

Crihs from New York, organiser of Monstertrack Race,   Kym NonStop from Los Angeles – Aventon Team rider, Nico Deportago-Cabrera from Chicago – riding for Red Bull and All City and Chas Christiansen of MASH SF traveled to Mani after few of them raced in the Fixed42 Berlin. Chas and Nico have been to Greece briefly before after the Transcontinental Race last year but for the rest Greece was a first timer.

The race course was demanding if not brutal. It started off from Kardamyli leaving the village westwards and after a big straight it started climbing up the first level of Taygetos. Then it left the main road climbing towards Prosilio, then turn left toward the top Gaitses and Voreio before returning to the main road at Kampos. It was 45 klm approxmately with an elevation gain of 1050 m. Not for the light hearted.  

THE RACE:

The race for this climbing course turned out in a typical fashion. For the strongest riders it was about strategy and pacing while for the other end it was a challenge that needed to be completed. After the big straight and a few klm of climbing Chas and Yiannis Karagiorgos seemed like they chose to battle it out between them as they put a gap on a second group of Nico, Soulis, Kym, Mixalis, Vaggelis and a few others. It was not answered so thats how the race went into the mountains and towards the top. Right at the most difficult turn and the sketchy part at the well crossing before Gaitses village, Chas pushed the pedal and left Yiannis with a gap that hew knew he couldnt close on the downhill.

Behind them the chasing group was spreading out as each rider was finding its own personal pace. Gearing played a role for sure on the uphill with some interesting choices like Themis’ winning 46/15 that pulled his muscles out climbing but won him 5 positions on the descent.

Few great surprises were there like Soulis’ incredible strength and Mixalis’ stubborn performance. Nico was styler as hell even after 2 days of riding and there is not enough to say for a female climber like Kym (“I guess I would have to race the boys again” <3).

Not much to say about the rest, Chas went flying through the top of the mountain and right there the race was done. There is nobody in the racing fixed gear world that can bomb hills like Chas does, his body resembling a pro Keirin rider, his upper body still while his legs spin the hell out of the cranks. It is an exceptional sight to see live. He truly epitomises the track cycling style of our era to the fullest: power paired with strategy and style.

CRIHS:
We all have a blind spot in life. Its a time where everything goes wrong when everything should have been going right. Its waiting there, it seems like life is holding it there for us and for Crihs it was thrown at him at the top of Taygetos mountain in Mani, thousands of miles away from his beloved New York. And its a dark place. Everything shuts down and you loose control. Nobody really knows what happened – maybe it doesnt matter – but Crihs had an accident on the most sketchy part of the course.

After so many street races, red lights, bombing and risky crossings his lucky coin was gone. It was the first time he crushed! Things like that happen in street racing and we really like to wish him quick recovery and to keep shredding on his bike. Greece will be here for you next time that you will come back.

ΤΗΕ LOCAL SCENE:
So here we are 8 years since the first 1896CMRR and 10 years since track bikes appeared in Greece – we reflect on the local scene with mixed feelings.

It is surely true that talent is present in Greece since day one. Strong and fit guys commute and are getting involved in the satellite events of the local racing and street racing. Is this involvement enough to sustain a scene? Maybe yes – maybe no, time will tell.  For sure though we would like to see these people getting stoked and serious about their riding. We would like to see photographers/bloggers/organisers getting stoked and up their game and level up because everything around is what you make of it. We would like to see more passion, style, athleticism, proper gear and less beaf, bored attitude, posing and bad vibes.

We want to see a local scene that is eager to get involved, travel, help each other and get down with it – for its own good and progress and for the sake of urban cycling culture in Greece.

ΤΗΕ ΙΝΤΕRNATIONAL SCENE:
On the periphery of the main events of the weekend there were the logistical details of how our guests would get there. Nico and Kym after visiting Athens for a couple of days decided to ride all the way across Peloponnese on their track bikes in 2 days. They rode from Corinth to Leonidio and then climbed Parnonas towards Sparti and then Mani. Whoever has ridden up Parnonas knows how tough this climb is even for geared bikes. What it would be important for us here as a message to our local community is the attitude we saw.

This is our international scene, comprised of riders of that kind, crazy fit, fully engaged, always fun to be around with. Always seeking for the stoke, a new challenge, a new experience – traveling new places, tasting the culture. They were there all smiling and fully social even after 2 full days of riding to get there next to you.

So next time you think search for inspiration, you dont have to look on roadie dopers of pro teams. Our guests travelled this far to meet you to spread the stoke of a scene that is fully blooming with new style – their riding is lingering between adventure, endurance and pure racing but always fun.

Its time you copy that side of the scene now.

#weownthemountains #oxiallesflories #1896CMRR #mani_inv

CLASSIFICATION:

01 // Chas Christiansen  1:32:02
02 // Yiannis Karagiorgos  1:36:55
03 // Themis Antoniadis  1:42:32
04 // Kym Perfetto   1:44:02
05 // Nico Deportago Cabrera  1:44:40
06 // Mixalis Keskinidis  1:46:03
07 // Fotis Gonis  1:49:04
08 // Yiannis Makris  1:52:42
09 // Pantelis Messaropoulos 2:54:18
10 // Paris Karagiannis  1:57:55
11 // Spyros Lykoudis  1:57:59
12 // Panos Dalas  1:59:20
13 // Konstantinos Koroneos  2:06:43
14 //  Nikolas Aggelopoulos  2:10:10
15 // Dimitris Aggelopoulos  2:12:02
16 // Thomas Patelis  2:13:05
17 // Dimitris Fiflis 2:15:40
18 // Giorgos Spiridis 2:16:01
19 // Argi Ntinopoulos 2:18:42
20 // Stelios Kabanaros  2:32:31

DNF //  Crihs
DNF // Vagelis Papasotiriou
DNF // Tassos Gazgalis
DNF // Giorgos

distance: 44 klm
elevation gain: 1050 m.

Sponsors: 8bar Bikes, All City Cycles, Cadence Collection

Photography by Mike Paschos, Agi Kolyvas, Nikolas Aggelopoulos.
Visit Mike Paschos Photography here.

Production team: Produced by Agi Kolyvas, Themis Antoniadis and Mixalis Vasileiadis //race marshal: Dionysis Souliotis // drivers: Tom Morrod, Vasilis Tsoymas //filmer: Panagiotis Angelopoulos // zine layout: Kostas Zdralis // BBQ day presented by Basement Bike crew.