Bulldogs Beat

This UGA coach is taking a cross-country ‘bucket list’ trip by motorcycle. Here’s why.

Georgia Sports Communication

Once the sun rises on June 14, Petros Kyprianou’s daily routine will morph into that of an old Western movie character.

He’ll rev the engine of a jet black Indian Chief motorcycle. Engage on daily adventures involving three-to-four hour rides. Take time to see what surrounds him. End up 3,200 miles away on the Pacific coast two weeks later.

That’s an itinerary of dreams for the Georgia track coach. Any other method to get across the country would be a disappointment.

Motorcycles were the only thing Kyprianou knew for most of his life in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. His first car came after moving to the United States in 2004, but was such a small priority that Kyprianou decided upon a 1989 Dodge Daytona for $600.

His true passion lies in enjoying the gifts of each day while straddled across a beloved bike. Kyprianou has intertwined his desire with a cause: He plans to engage on an 18-city road trip to Los Angeles in an effort to raise money for childhood cancer.

“It is a bucket list item,” Kyprianou told The Telegraph. “I was looking for strong motivation since I am doing this by myself, and wanted to make people a little more aware of cancers and how devastating it can be for families. It’s kind of a win-win situation.”

Kyprianou’s journey begins northward for Chicago, then it’s to a place that he seldom imagined stepping foot (in this case, wheel) on — Route 66 and all of its infamous glory. Everyone knows of its rich history throughout the 1930s as a symbol of escape through the Dust Bowl. Shortly thereafter, a road had never seen such fame as Route 66 was featured in an expansive list of Hollywood films.

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University of Georgia track coach Petros Kyprianou (right) is riding a motorcycle from Athens, Georgia, to Santa Monica, California, in an effort to raise money for childhood cancer. He lost his father-in-law, Dusan Mitosevic (right), to stomach cancer in January 2018. Courtesy of Petros Kyprianou

As Kyprianou embarks on such an adventure, the memories of his late father-in-law sit at the forefront of his mind. Dusan Mitosevic, a former professional Serbian soccer manager, shared many of his traits and received credit for Kyprianou’s coaching success, including a men’s and women’s national championship in 2018. Mitosevic passed from stomach cancer in January 2018 after a short-lived battle with the disease.

One memorable technique that Kyprianou took from his late mentor was Mitosevic’s note-taking skills. Mitosevic was meticulous in his practice strategies, and one of them was taking 10-to-15 pages of notes after each meeting with his team. An individual-based sport like track doesn’t call for such a volume, but Kyprianou is dedicated to that craft and takes about three pages of bulleted notes per day.

“He was very disciplined and demanded respect from his guys by his presence,” Kyprianou said. “I compare him to Bill Belichick, because he’s a man of few words and is just a brainiac. He’s a passionate coach who knows how to get the best out of his athletes.”

Five months after Mitosevic’s passing, the idea of a road trip came to fruition during Georgia’s last trip to SEC championships. Kyprianou hopes to raise $100,000 for childhood cancer through the CURE foundation through this event. He opened the campaign with a $25,000 donation of his own and has received support from Georgia coaches, staff members and even wrestling icon Ric Flair (he has a granddaughter on the Bulldogs’ track team).

Kyprianou’s efforts stand at $28,000 with slightly over a month remaining until the event. He added a desire for Georgia’s track program to gain exposure through the event, especially after hoisting two trophies over the span of a year.

“I have to get all of the big-time people here, including (head football coach) Kirby Smart and (head basketball coach) Tom Crean, to help out,” Kyprianou said. “It’s still early, I guess, so that’s the goal. There is no donation that is too small or too big, and we want to give these families some relief.”

His adventure begins at 7 a.m. next Tuesday as Kyprianou heads toward Nashville, Tennessee, and takes time at numerous stops to cherish the memory. He plans to meet with Georgia’s alumni base at some of his stops and take tours of historically-rich destinations at others.

What’s next? Well, that remains to be seen. Kyprianou has taken time to map out his trip, so the chances of being stranded are slim. But bike-friendly hotels will be a unique find.

“It’ll be like old times,” Kyprianou said. “My plan is to wing it. If I don’t find a room, then I’ll camp out somewhere.”

Once Kyprianou sees California’s sun-splashed beaches on June 28, his journey will come to an end. He will park his Indian Chief Dark Horse bike, which he says is known for “eating up miles on highways,” and end his trip on the Santa Monica Pier. A final hurrah will be had, support goes toward a meaningful cause and a figurative credit reel will play.

Because, well, Kyprianou’s path back to where it started isn’t quite the same as old Western characters.

“We’ll have a beer and chat for a little bit,” Kyprianou said. “I’ll catch the first flight back to Atlanta the next morning and ship the bike. I wish I had a couple more weeks, then I’d ride back.”