Chile’s Crazy MTB Race from the Andes to the Ocean
Eighty riders descended more than 30,000 feet from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean this February during Chile’s second annual Andes Pacifico, a four-day enduro race. Beginning high in the mountains, with stages comprised of leg-burning climbs and fast singletrack descents, the riders made their way through Chile’s wine region before finishing in the small coastal town of Mantanzas. Photographer Dave Trumpore captured the entire event, which, of course, included plenty of dirt, pisco sours, and Chilean barbeque.
Photo: After climbing 37 switchbacks on asphalt, Frenchman Fabian Barel makes quick work of the twisty Parvazo singletrack on his way back down the mountain.
The calm before the storm. On the eve of the race, Gary Perkin, Jon Cancelier, and Felipe Vasquez take one last opportunity to relax and share a few beers with friends. Having participated in the event the year before, they know the challenges they lie ahead.
Each evening, officials briefed the riders on the upcoming stage. Riders weren’t allowed to pre-ride any of the stages: good maps and course descriptions were critical.
Racers navigate what looks like the surface of Mars to reach the top of stage one, where the only spectators were a few wild horses. This same route is also used by many backpackers hiking to the top of nearby Cerro Plomo.
On day two, riders made their way down to the lower slopes of the Andes, and for the first time began to see signs of life: trees, green grass, and the occasional livestock.
Rush hour in the Andes Pacifico takes on a completely different form than in the city as you head higher and farther into the mountains.
British racer Sam Flannigan made the trip to Chile to escape the cold winter back home and to get some valuable pre-season training in. A bit out of his element the first few days, he would eventually find his groove to land 5th place.
Race organizers strategically planned for each night’s campsite to be close to water, and after ten-hour days in near 100-degree heat, it was a welcome luxury.
Day three saw record temperatures (well over 100 degrees), in Chile’s premier wine-growing region in the Colchagua Valley. Luckily, shade and refreshment could be found at the Lapostolle Vineyard located alongside the course.
With over 4,000 feet of climbing and record-breaking heat, day three turned out to be the most difficult stage, leaving many racers wishing for a little more horsepower.