The first edition of the Hellenic Mountain Race will follow a 939 kilometre route with 29,000m of vertical elevation gain. It will take riders from Meteora, famous for its monasteries perilously perched on their stone pillars, to the picturesque, fortified Venetian port town of Nafpaktos, at the southern edge of the mainland, on the Gulf of Corinth.
The route follows a mix of unpaved roads, tarmac, stone pathways and a handful of singletracks. The route is around 53% unpaved. There is also some hike a bike to allow us to take riders to a few particularly special places. Riders will need to validate their progress through the course at three staffed checkpoints: Papingo, Melissourgi, and Karpenissi, before obtaining their final brevet card stamp in Nafpaktos.
The route will likely give riders an unexpected impression of Greece. They will spend most of their time far from the islands and beaches that make this such a popular and renowned holiday destination. They'll spend their time in the surprisingly wild and remote mountains and forests of the north of the country.
The riding is incredible, the people are warm and friendly and the food is fantastic. Add to that generous portions and you have the recipe for a great bike packing adventure. Wildlife may well also be on the menu. During scouting, we saw two bears, some wild boar and several mountain goats. Get ready for a proper adventure!
You'll likely notice that there is rather a lot of climbing involved. Although the race takes place in a generally less remote setting than it's two sister races in Kyrgyzstan and Morocco, this is certainly not going to be an easy race. Have a look at each of the tours below for more details on each section of the course and some of the highlights along the way!
Special credit is due to Chrissa Zompoulou (@hesperiairisgraeca) who graciously gave me plenty of recommendations and information on the Pindus Mountains and Greece in genera. Two stretches of the route : to and from Metsovo are entirely thanks to her (KM15-70 & KM302-420). They are part of her Pindus Traverse which is also well worth a look.
- Nelson Trees, Race Director
The race will begin with a neutralised start through the centre of Kalambaka, at the foot of Meteora. It will then follow a singletrack loop to the west of the Monasteries before finally leaving the area and heading into the Pindus Mountains.
Riders will then head up to Metsovo, the first major town on…
Riders will then make their way along the shores of Aoou reservoir before crossing several beautiful old stone bridges on their way to Vikos Gorge. There will be some stone pathways in this section of the race that will require some walking...
Riders will need to complete a short out and back to the main…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
This section of the race route starts with a long descent from Mount Tymfi refuge.
Gravel bike riders beware: this will not be your favourite section. Hopefully the view at the top will still make the effort worth it.
Riders will then cross another beautiful old stone bridge before riding through Konitsa…
This section of the race route will take riders high into the Pindus range, leaving the forests behind for a while for more high altitude, barren mountains, open to the elements. There are some spectacular mountain roads on the way.
They will finally reach the location of our second checkpoint: Melissourgi…
This section of the race route features remote mountain ranges and wide open vistas. Immediately after leaving Checkpoint 2, riders will head up to one of the highest points in the race, with landscapes you would not expect in Greece. It looks a lot like Kyrgyzstan at times.
There won't be much in the…
After Karpenissi, riders are on the home stretch down to Nafpaktos. They still have a number of big obstacles in the way though. The first of these is the climb up and over Diaselo Kaliakoudas pass. It's an improbable road that goes over, rather than around the mountain.
What comes next is a section…
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