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There are good trails everywhere these days. But some places are different -- so unique, so distinct from the type of mountain biking you're used to that they draw you in with a sort of magnetic pull. Nevados de Chillan, Chile is one of those places. Or, if it isn't yet, it should be. We spent three weeks in Nevados, learning to ride in the rotor deep talcum powder that characterizes these trails, soaking in as many sunsets and sunrises as we could, hike-a-biking for hours to find the prime goods, and putting the new Jamis Bikes DEFCON to the test in this wild, fast, unpredictable terrain.

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Making waves

Here's the thing about dust in Chillán -- you can smell it. It looks like sand, but it has the fine, smooth (and unfortunately inhale-able) properties of powdered sugar. If you've ever accidentally breathed in the sugary coating off a brownie, you know what it's like to follow someone down Valle Hermoso. The dust in Nevados makes your lungs hurt, and you'll still be finding chunks of it in your nasal cavities three weeks later. But it's worth it…. And the views aren't terrible either.

Coppin' a feel on top of Valle Hermoso

Morning light

While you can find jumps and berms in Nevados' lift access bike park, Chillán's backcountry is about raw speed, flat (and loose) turns and grace under pressure. And learning to the trust the dust. The Chileans call this terrain "anti-grip," and like the distinct but equally traction-less gravel of the same name made infamous by Andes-Pacífico, it seems like a bit of an understatement. But once you find your groove, it feels kind of like floating. It feels like what mountain biking is supposed to be.

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Flat corners, full speed.

Words by Syd Schulz
Photos by Anthony J Milio

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