Steve Wentz took a trip to Chile for some relaxing and DH racing...here's the riding and food-heavy report from a VERY healthy downhill scene. Looks awesome, go Chile!
I'm putting this together while having a sandwich at the Copa Cannondale race at Nevados de Chillan, an hour East of Chillan in the Andes. I'm washing the sandwich down with a Capirinha, I think that's how you spell it. Last time I had one of these things this good it was in Brazil at the World Cup.
Day 1, Arrive in Chile, Course Walk I just got done with course walk. After I built my bike, one of SRAM's importers gave me a ride up, super nice guy, Felipe. Sick course, lots of berms, epic dirt and some steep chutes. It looks like one of the drops could be worse than Gee's Windham huck. Serious, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm glad the Commencal is progressive, I trust it more than my wrists and ankles. On a more important note, the food at the buffet here is epic. I guess Chilean Sea Bass is an American fabrication, a few people I have talked to here have never heard of it. But the flounder...that fish was awesome. Ingredients: Butter, flounder. Back to the race track though, looks to be about two minutes long, here is a photo of a waterfall. More tomorrow...
Day 2, DH Practice There are lots of hardtails here. Some guys are going damn fast on them as well. As far as the other bikes? There is a pretty good mix, just like the states. I'd say 30 percent of the field have a nice DH bike. I would consider that a bike that is less than a few years old, there are a bunch of Cannondales, Specialized, and Intense 951's here. There are also some riders with super tricked out bikes. I've seen 2011 Boxxers, Commencal Supreme DH's, Transition TR450's and some Industry Nine wheels. Good luck finding spokes for those. 40 percent of the field is on a bike that is a few years older, like an Iron Horse Sunday, 2nd generation Santa Cruz V-10 and stuff along those lines. Everyone else is on a hardtail or locally made/modified bike. I saw a White Brothers DH2 fork. I rode one of those in 2000. I also saw an Orange rear swingarms attached to a homemade front triangle. Awesome. I saw two snapped bars today, and one old Easton Carbon bar with so many scratches it looked like it had been through a nuclear winter. I don't know how it survived so long, and it was still in use.
Day 3, Race Day The day is done. It is about 9:00pm now, most people have left and I've just finished with dinner. Now I'm tired. The day was crazy for sure, too much going on to write it all here. A few photos might tell the story better.
The race was great. Everyone, and I mean everyone was nice, helpful and welcoming here. The top guys were very quick, I think Leiva has been top 30 in world cups before, and the quality of riders here is very high. The racing was only a small part of why I came here though. I like seeing new places. I like to see other ways of life, and I'm reminded of the same things I've already learned. Here in Chile, I'm told the average wage for a day of works is around $20. That's not even the minimum wage. But the cycling community, the community we are a part of, gets bikes cobbled together in the back of sheds, through deals from friends, and they make it happen. They have fun and live life to the fullest no matter what. I haven't found a better group of people anywhere than cyclists, I'm thankful to be a part of it. -Steve Wentz