This is an interview with Alex Petroutsos, a cycling athlete from Greece.
Key Info for Alex Petroutsos
Place of residence: Ano Gatzea, South Pelion, Magnesia Greece
Sport: All about Cycling
Profession and educational background: Outdoor Sports Coordinator, University of Ioannina (Ancient Greek /Latin Literature)
Years in the game of any kind: My first sport was horse riding, which I started at 7. Since then, I have tried many sports and for the last ten years, mainly cycling.
Interview of Alex Petroutsos
Sports participated: Cycling, horse riding, sailing, running, scuba diving, motocross/enduro, trekking.
Years in the current game: 10 years
When did you start doing your sport, and why?
Ten years ago. I was working and studying in the center of Athens. There, I did a lot of commuting, and one day I realized that the small parks and squares of the city center would be great places for relaxing after work. I began riding short paths and trails, and after a while, I got my first racing bike.
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
“However, many peaks you climb, you will always see one higher, and even if you climb the highest, you will realize that you are back where you started, under the stars.” This is not a motto; it’s a Greek poem but means a lot to me.
What is the most challenging thing for you to do in your sport?
Ultramarathon races and big climbs.
What has been one of your most significant accomplishments in your sport?
A 2500 km solo cycling tour of Greece
What is difficult about your sport?
Not to have evil thoughts on uphills.
What is satisfying about your sport?
The uphill and the subsequent downhill
What do you do in your training that is important for your success?
I ride as much as I like.
What is the diet that you follow?
Tons of spaghetti, lots of fruit, many small meals, plenty of water.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
In the end, everything will be OK. If it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.
What are your heroes?
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
There is no particular hero for me, but all the people living real lives and aim for their targets are heroes. I admire the great explorer Alastair Humphreys and my dog because the only things he thinks about are to play and the next bone.
How did you learn to train?
From searching the internet, advice from friends and professional cyclists, but everyone said: “Keep riding, and you’ll get better.” So I followed that.
What is your biggest challenge, and how do you do manage this challenge?
The Ultra Marathon mountain bike races because they need all my effort and thought. I manage it by staying calm, being prepared, and enjoying it.
How necessary is your equipment for your performance? What do you prefer to use (brands, etc.)?
There is a Greek proverb that says, “The tools don’t make the professional.” In cycling and other sports, this is not true. It would be best if you had excellent and light equipment. There are many good manufacturers out there making proper equipment. I have no preference for brands as long as they are well designed and comfortable to ride.
Have you participated in any significant/prestigious athletic organizations?
I’m racing only in Greece, participating in all the big races. There are many good organizations, especially in the French Alps, that I would like to join.
Why exercise/athletics is essential for a person?
In my opinion, it makes you feel alive.
Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)?
Books – Alastair Humphreys (Moods of Future Joys, Thunder and Sunshine, Ten Lessons from the Road.
Why do you think Greece is an ideal place for your sport?
Primarily the climate, all year round, I can enjoy the mountain bike trails, the roads on my road bike in generally good weather conditions. Secondly, Greece gives you a large choice of terrain and altitude gains to “play” with, but the combination of sea and mountain, I think, is what I like more about the landscape.
Can you recommend 3-4 places in Greece ideal for this sport?
First is Mount Pelion, one of the most beautiful and varied places on earth and the best for me since I chose to live here. Second is Aoos/Vikos National Park since it’s a “virgin” environment with stunning trails and scenery. The third is Meteora, with these high monastery-topped rocks and long history.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want to share Eddie Merckx’s motto – he used it for uphills, but I think it’s suitable for everything in life – “It will never get easier; it will just get faster.”
You can learn more about cycling as a sport from the European Association.