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Mountain Biking Patagonia

February 16, 2011

Mountain bike race in Pucon, Chile

Ok, so the other day Jen and I are out walking through the streets of this small town when we happen across the beginning of a mountain bike race!  Now, the two people that read this blog (i.e. my mom and my mother-in-law) know that I love to mountain bike.  The bike I have now is pretty much a member of the family – stays in the guest bedroom, is given regular baths, etc.  So, I was very excited to see this race happening in the small town of Pucon, which is almost like a small Colorado town minus the breweries.

We watched the beginning of the race, which was set to end on top of the volcano, and then went about with the rest of our day.  However, I began to have the itch to go mountain biking and what better place to do so than in Patagonia??  So, I inquired of the owner of our hostel how I could best go about satisfying my biking craving (by the way, the guy looks like a short Elvis, with mutton chops who hasn’t bathed in a long time).  Immediately mi amigo pulls out his phone, makes a call that seems to go well, and then tells me to be outside tomorrow at 4:00 – hip hip hooray!

Just finished putting on the downhill gear

Now, I did preface my inquiry into a good local ride with telling the hostel owner that I had experience but was not that good – as one of my old bosses use to say, “set expectations low…then blow them out of the water.”  Fast forward to the next day:  I am sitting halfway up the volcano and have been given knee, elbow, and wrist pads along with a totally enclosed helmet.  Just over the ledge in front of me is a significant drop that I am apparently about to go over.  So what did I do?  I went over the edge like a pro and then busted hard when it became flat.  This continued for the next 200 yards or so where I ate it another two times.  Eventually I got better and would go farther distances without crashing and then we came to sections that were much more similar to what I normally ride and I would overtake my riding partners.  By the end of the trip I was ridiculously tired and well covered in sweat, blood, sticker burrs, and dirt.

One of the major points that I apparently lost some time during the translation was that this was a downhill biking trip.  Normally, I ride more cross country, which can become techinical with rocks, trees, roots, bridges, etc. but it is still very different from downhill.  Regardless we did cover a lot of ground in a couple of hours, which was about 20km.

Some things that I realized about downhill bikers:  First and foremost, they are crazy.  These guys just commit to jumps, drops, and all in-between without fear or second thought, even when there is a cliff on one side and jagged rocks on the other.  Check out this video of one of the drops.  It is quick because I accidentally stopped it but it paints the picture of what I am talking about (also, if you know how to flip videos right side up, please let me know).

Instead of it being a big tourist thing, I was lucky to get to go with a few local guys that just wanted to go biking.  The leader of the pack rode professionally for the Chilean national team and taught me a lot while pushing me through the harder sections.

It might just be because I was renting, but the bikes are very heavy in comparison to my normal Specialized Stumpjumper.  However, they also allow you to go over surfaces that you would otherwise never dream of in another bike.  At the same time, the bikes break constantly from flat tires, to snapped chains, to bent derailleurs.  Additionally, brakes are not very good at all and do not seem to work when needed the most.  Also, thank the Lord for full suspension, I would not have enjoyed the day after if it were not for that.

All that to say, I really enjoyed my experience and will probably do it again in the future – but by no means will I make it a hobby.  For now I guess I can say that I have mountain biked in Patagonia (oh, and down the side of an active volcano).

Steven

One of the pics snapped along the way while biking in Patagonia

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2011 03:25

    um, you have 3 readers.

  2. Morgan permalink
    February 22, 2011 09:28

    that is awesome. i’m glad that you survived that.
    jen, where were you during this downhill death fall?!?!

  3. epuwun permalink
    March 21, 2011 10:59

    Hi I’m from the organizers of this event would allow us volcano in Pucon
    you can use your picture?

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