It was Saturday and our last day of racing. Since we missed one day completely and had a time trial take the place of another day we actually didn’t do two stages…sort of. The organizers decided to combine Stage 5 and 6 together, minus one climb, and race it on the last day. I don’t have a stage profile on this one, but I think it was something like 55 miles and 8,000+ feet of climbing. What a way to end the day. For the past three days we were lucky to have stayed in one cabin the whole time. I was sharing a queen bed with my uncle BT, not so lucky for me. Sleep was at a premium because BT gets up all night long. Being a light sleeper helps at the fire house where I work, but not on a “relaxing” mountain bike vacation.
We hit some crazy single track at the beginning and there was log jam at a couple fences that we had to go through. Funny story…so when we get to these fence openings it is one at a time and very slow going. At the first one this girl from Spain comes fling up on my right and tries to cut in front of 5 os us waiting to get through. I inch my bike a little forward and don’t budge. She goes behind me. At the next opening, she did the same thing. This time I took my bike, rammed it into hers and told her “No”….and some other nice American words. I don’t get it…wait your turn, yo! No one is going to make up ground here. We rolled through some awesome terrain. t went up again and again and the wheels slowly fell off my wagon.
One of the many old logging bridges in the race. You had to be careful where you rode because you could get sucked down into the raging river below
I made it to the first feed station and directly after that was the infamous “hiking” portion of the race. I had heard about this from a buddy of mine who had done this race. Nothing could have prepared me for this. Muddy, wet trail that averaged 15% for 45 minutes to an hour. I lost track of time after a while. This just shattered me psychologically. I wanted to throw my bike off a cliff at that point. But wait here was some single track…onto a road, onto pavement! Oh glory! Nope, they turned us off the pavement immediately. Didn’t want us to have too much fun. Up and down and up and down. Simon caught me rollers after Ted had dumped me on the hike. I was a shell of my original self. Bridge to engine room…no power.
I sucked a guys wheel for a while and then saw a course marshall. I asked him how far to water and he said 2km. Immediately I was at high alert because I am not sure what it is about Chileans, but everything was 2km away. The grossly misjudged their distances. We always found that it was 2km, plus a km’s more. Sure enough the last feed zone was 6 km away. Now these feed zones were located at strategic portions throughout the stage. There were always two and they were stocked with water, Gatorade, and all sorts of food products. There was candy, peanuts, cooked potatoes dipped in straight salt, granola bars, etc…. It was table full of Hepatitis or dysentary waiting to leap up and grabbed you. It got me on this day.
I again sucked the wheel of two Chilean guys for the last 10 km. We rode over another suspension bridge near Pucon and then guess what….single track into the finish line. Done and done. Finished and finished. Collapse on the ground, dry heave, cry…the normal routine after a race. A huge accomplishment I must say. Will I be back…nope. I can say that 100%. I would like to come back and maybe check out the countryside. I saw a lot of my handlebars and the rear wheel of the guy in front of me. Not spectacular views.
Bike Cleaning Chilean Style – They use hot steam to get dirt off of bikes. It works ok in that it just blows the dirt particles off the bike.
We hung out for what seemed like hours, got our bikes cleaned, ate some more of the same food; although they had hamburgers for lunch….ah no. I didn’t fall into that trap. There are few things around the world that I trust and a hamburger made by an American is one of them. You foreigners just can’t do that one. I wasn’t even sure what type of meat it was. After packing our bikes I started to get a little hungry again, although I was having intermittent stomach cramps. It looked like dinner was getting started because of this….
Fully skinned lambs on bamboo spears. They pulled the lamb out of a couple sleeping bags and stuck them on these sticks.
Dinner was not to be. The awards ceremony brought the sun down. Ravenous mountain bikers started lining up at the mess tent. The awards went even longer. The riders got agitated. A riot was narrowly averted when they finally opened for dinner at 10pm. By that time I was going into hypoglycemic shock. I ate as much as I could, but the bug that I picked up started to take over and I had to get to our hotel soon. “Soon” could not have soon enough. After messing around with the organizers for an hour, a ride finally showed up and drove us literally around the block. Ugh…. The hotel had no reservation for us, but luckily they had a cabin for us. We all laughed because this had been happening throughout the trip. The driver summed it up for us when he said, “This is Chile.” I hopped, skipped and jumped into the toilet and from then on no words are needed and I took the paint off the porcelain. I managed to get my own bed and own room for the first time and passed out. Three more bathroom trips in the middle of the night and a fever of 103, along with some medication from the good doctor, and I was feeling better by the morning. Now to begin the long road home…..