Chilli, Chilly, Chile - EWS round 1
23/03/2018 Arrival day
Flew in to Santiago, Chile with Charley Murray and we got our tetris skills out and packed up the city car with three bike boxes and luggage before heading up to Lo Barnachea where the Enduro World Series round was being held - we noticed on the way up it was a bit higher than expected - the race village sits at a sweet 2600m altitude. Dropped Charley off and headed to my accom at Valle Nevado going up even higher at 3000m altitude.
Upon arrival a Chillean man was waving and came up to my car asking if I was the third person, I was staying with a Liam Moyniham, James Shirley (from Scotland) and Joseph Nation so I just thought there was a language barrier and mentioned James and Liams names which got a very excited reaction from the man, "si si". He was a hotel carer and took me down to the room as the boys were out riding.
He unlocked the room and let me in, so I unpacked the car and settled into the room, took a dump, had a shower, all the post-travel stuff. I was still in my towel putting my bike together when the boys came home… except it wasn't ‘the boys’ - some randoms Shane and Barret turned up to my room, or actually flip that around, I was in their apartment and there was a stranger in their place setting a bike up half naked. Luckily they found it pretty funny and ended up getting along pretty well. They had also arrived today and showed me a video they took that morning of a man getting beaten by cops on the street at full whammies. Went and found my actual room with the boys and went for an evening ride and soaked up the amazing scenery! Ded.
Sleep in day with a couple of laps on the Lo Barnachea activity park, trying to get used to 3000m altitude as quick as possible.
25/03/2018 Practice Day One
Stage one started right outside our house - holla holla. Got on the bikes with the lads and headed to the gondy, first stair section on the way claimed Joes tire and we were one man down before even getting on the gondola. Stage one was open, fast and drifty as.
I managed to slide over on two loose corners, bitta ‘wholley hecka I’m actually in Chile riding my bike’ kinda nerves. Headed up to stage two, 11km of down hill that actually doesn't have a climb, biking down thinking to myself wowwoweewow what a track, before getting to the last section where I toppled over in the rocks -luckily not hurting myself - but smashing my frame, stem, and wheel. Wowoweewow what the fudge? Big, sudden wake up call. Luckily the only thing that was immediately stuffed was my stem so I found a replacement for stage three prachy then headed home to catch up on a lot of admin.
24/03/2018 Practice Day Two
Another perla of a day, scoffed down some eggs on toast before jumping in the car with ze bike and Liam.
We stopped by at Cody Kellys to pick up a new stem, whacked it on and was good to go for the day. Chilly winds on the lift and yarns with Jamesy boy on the way to stage 4, watched a photographer in a red jacket taking stills of pinners on a wall ride, he then moved from his safe spot onto a liaison road and was quite promptly bof'd in the back by a rider at speed. I saw his camera fly at least 5 metres. Luckily everyone got up.
Got onto riding bikes and the tracks were running mint - another day of fast loose and bouldery tracks. Stayed on my broken wheel from yesterday (I wanted to save my race wheel) and fully fudged it down stage 5 loosing the tire off the rim completely. I chucked a tube in (thanks Liam) and finished the stage still on the same rim. Back up the hill, chucked a fresh wheel on and boosted down stage 6. Thoughts: stage 6 is going to take out half the race, rock bombs everywhere.
Caught up with the kiwis for some chinwags before boosting back Valle Nevado to spruce the race rig up, and down some chicken sammies.
25/03/2018 Race Day One Enduro World Series Round One, Chile
10am check in and 12.30pm stage one start time (due to time delays) made for a pretty relaxing entry into the first bit of serious racing for the year. I was teamed up with a stella crew - Kiwis, Loui Harvey, Charles Murray and Jake Paddon along with Shane from America (the guys who’s room I’d broken into earlier in the week). Stage one was loose and drifty - I took a reserved approach to avoid any misshaps and got down clean. We caught the chair up to stage two with a small push in between and then right into the biggest/longest stage the EWS has ever run.
It started with rocky park type track, then changed to a more natural terrain part way down picking up speed in wide open sections and finishing with a very technical tight rocky section followed by tight switch backs (this part destroyed most peoples race). My hands gave up half way down the stage and nurse mode engaged and crawl mode was unlocked for the final section. Big ol’ pedal up to stage 3 and we were rewarded with a shorter final stage with wide blown out corners and rocky park sections - pretty satisfying getting to the bottom with no spills for the day! Riding into 65th. Sleep mode engaged.
26/03/2018 Race Day Two Enduro World Series Round One, Chile
Slightly earlier start and everything running on time today made things feel a little less faffy. Headed up to stage one with the crew and had a skid off comp at the top for the media squids. A couple of the riders nearly ruined their days in the process - true enduro spirit right thur. Stage four was fast with minimal pedalling and enough bumps to vibrate your eyeballs. I came into the top section in true kamakazi style and just held on luckily, riding the rest of the stage with quite a bit more control.
I had a good single trail liaison to stage 5 with a minimal rest period before heading down the steep switchback, off camber track. Had a lotta fun managing to stick on line most of the way down and bring the back wheel back from the brink of wash out a fair few times. The same big ol’ liaison again today that we had to stage 3 yesterday, except now we had an extra pedal chairlift and hike a bike up to 3600m altitude for the final stage 6.
This again had a mixture of everything that a loose, rocky, dusty mountain could provide. I rode well down this stage and felt like I was having a goodie until I hit a tight corner quite a bit too fast and washed the front out right underneath me, twisting the bars in the process. After fixing ‘er up I jumped back on and finished up the stage cleanly. Bummed about that last hickup to what could have been a crash free weekend, but then found out I had ridden into 50th and things seemed a lot better ayo. Sloth mode engaged, followed by rushed pack mode, intensified by lost passport panic.
27/03/2018 Travel to Colombia
Found my passport at 1am (in my bike box), went to sleep for two hours and woke up at 3am to travel to the airport with Shane (remember, the guys house I broke into). Came across a search party on the way down looking for a man lost on the hill, not ideal as its pretty chilly at night. Got to the airport at 4.10am with more than an hour to kill so we headed back into Santiago for a McDonalds mission. Bad fail in the drive through when we couldn't overcome the language barrier and were ignored even though we took multiple laps around trying to place orders - hah jokes on them, body’s a temple anyway Maccas. Filled up the car and bought a coke, which I decided to drink whilst I was driving. Too my surprise what I thought was the motorway was not the motorway and just as I was opening the coke a speed bump popped up out of the dark and we hit it at 80. Coke was now everywhere, but the steering wheel grip was now unreal. We got back to the airport and got the car ticked off (somehow ) and we joined the rest of the EWS riders at the airport for check in. Got on the flight completely pooped, but watched movies the whole way as per usual. A guy fainted next to me on the plane - drama followed. We sorted him out with water and juice and the lucky bugger was moved up to business. The whole EWS squad landed in Bogota, Colombia way behind time for our connecting flights, so the whole squad had to run through the airport (about 50 of us) losing two frenchies along the way - lucky they found us again just in time for the connecting flight. The plane to Manizales from Bogata was filled entirely with EWS riders, and as expected when we landed there were absolutely no bikes, haha. An hour filling forms and Shane and I were back on the road in search of Maccas, but had to settle for Subway in the end before spending another two hours finding our accom as Colombia likes to have many streets with the same name and numbers. Found it, still no bike, beer item earned.
Chur Sven, as always, for the banger photos.