I didn’t realise it until Day 4 and 5 of Andes Pacifico, but it appears that I’ve been living with an undiagnosed and serious condition all my life. Yes, completely unknown to me all this time, and it took the vastness of the Andes for me to work it out… I clearly have self-diagnosed Agoraphobia.
Watch now as all my Doctor mates breath “cock” under their breath while they read this at their work stations (Yes Huss, I see you), but even without the help of Web MD I figured this all out on my own. For the first three days of Andes Pacifico I had been confronted with the most insanely vast open spaces you can marvel at through the lens of a pair of Smith Squad gogs.
Whilst this vastness and blank canvas brought out the best in rad cunts, who went very very fast, I’d struggled to get to grips (semi pun intended) with the wide open spaces the first 3 days had presented. Now that we were once again enveloped in the warm embrace of tight bush, I was feeling oddly more comfortable and had much better rhythm in these familiar surroundings. #bringbackthebush was a real thing.
The other thing about Day 5 is that its ‘Weird Paradox Day’. You spend a reasonable amount of time throughout the week quite focused on getting to this point in the race, be it one footstep at a time, one stage at a time or one butchered Spanish phrase at a time, but your goal is to make it to the end, preferably intact.
So now that the end was in sight, that classic Human fuckbaggery emotion of sort of wishing it wouldn’t end was starting to kick in faster than you can hum “Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over.” It’s that same weird last day of school shit that gives you a kick in the balls and reminds you; “beware what you wish for cunt“. I’m not exactly standing on a soapbox and saying I could have done another day, but I was starting to enjoy myself as the Fat Lady was reading through her musical notes.
Exacerbating this feeling, we were already de-camping from La Liwa to head towards Cachuagua and our final beach camp destination. You may have noticed that I haven’t done a very good job of referring to actual locations, landmarks or place names in any of these race reports and that’s mainly due to the fact that on a day to day level, it didn’t seem that relevant to be honest. Thanks ignorant tourist… In the day to day of AP all that really seemed relevant was that we were heading from insanely high Andes to the goodness of the South Pacific Ocean on the coast and that the hot showers were always on the left hand side in the MASH shower tent.
And fuck me like a White House Comms Director if I wasn’t having a good time now we were back in trees on the Nomad 4. There is something that’s hard to beat about long days riding mental blind trails on a bike that has more confidence than Ryan Gosling on a bad day. And when you get two together, warm funny stuff starts to happen on your inside places:
As we loaded up for the final day and Adrian tried to start a fight with a Llama (Or could have been an Alpaca, no-one knows the difference), little did we know it at the time, but we were also going from one extreme to the other on the final day; starting in a zone where the street dawgs ruled the town and ultimately ending up in the most palatial of coastal towns, a contrast that had everyone marvelling at the polarising socioeconomic spectrum we were experiencing… Not really, everyone was just looking at their phones for most of the commute:
Profiles in Good Cuntishness – Part 1: Our driver, legend, GC and main man all week was Patricio, which I agree is about as Chilean as a name can get, until he told us his surname was ‘Middleton’, which caused an instant silent pause from our truck… While everyone initially did a double take, naturally we quickly took the name association to its natural conclusion and a poll was conducted as to the overall preference in the vehicle between Pippa or Kate (its not a truck ride without some light casual misogyny – Yes, that’s satire, but please, by all means, leave faux outrage below in the comments section for it to be fed to the echo chamber nom-nom-nom), turns out he was no relation unfortunately, but he was one totally rad dude who looked after us all week. You don’t get allocated trucks on AP, but if you’re there in 2019, then Pat is your Postman:
Day 5 naturally got off to an ascending start, however this time under a much welcomed cloud cover which kept shit mildly chilled for what we thought was our last major climb… Fools! Little did we know this was comparatively mellow. Clearly Mr Scott was enjoying more warp power than the Krunk on Day 5:
For those wanting an update on Mark’s (the non-Scott/Scot variety) shoes and their Andes Pacifico experience, Day 5 saw them going fun ghetto in a last ditch effort to make it to the coast. No update yet on whether this will be part of 510’s next marketing campaign:
By now, hauling ourselves somewhere to start another day of Chilean wildness was becoming a lifestyle… Adaptation was kicking in and I was genuinely frothing for another day of blind racing. However, the difference this morning was I could no longer fight the battle against my phobia of backcountry bathroom breaks. Yes, I had arrived at the start of almost every stage on AP needing to unleash a violent turdzilla, only to bury that thought and suffer stomach cramps all day based on my resistance to soiling the bush.
However, on the start of Day 5 I could take it no longer – I had to purge and it ultimately ended up one of the greatest moments of my life, as well as a terrible atrocity for the Chilean countryside. Once again the SwissMissile coming to the rescue with a unique combination of tissues and wet wipes that essentially saved my Day 5… I will almost reach into dad joke territory here to call him the Swiss Army knife of humans, but a good reminder on packing for all eventualities at Andes Pacifico is key.
Stage 14 – Mesones 2: 3.6km’s with 455m drop
And so it begins – The beginning of the Racing end. Only 3 stages left to enjoy, survive and savour. For some of us it was more of a trial than others. Adrian was about to give us yet another reminder for the week, on the curse of punctures. No one really knows how many it was in the end, mainly as no one could count that high, so we all just started to make up the number that he had to endure, Stage 14 was ready and waiting for him once again:
The main mistake I’d made on the way to the start of Day 5 was to look at the results… I casually/obsessively noted that I was in 8th, but had two riders within a minute of me in the overall. This made my outward demeanour of “fuck the results man” even more slightly at odds with my inner racer, who was both amazed we were getting competitive and also fully barred up to get after it. Would I remain committed to keeping shit smooth, or go wildly off script?
Day 4 had shown the new strategy was working, so no point in getting wild on it when you’re a naturally conservative rider – A bit like when the quiet person at work gets fucked up at Friday night drinks, invariably it gets a bit awkward and ends badly. And so begun a process which had sort of stated to take root on Day 4, whereby riding chilled and smoothly ends up meaning you go perhaps faster than intended – Culminating in a Holy FUCK moment, requiring shit to chill out again, which then invariably restarts the process. There was still plenty of terrain to provide such HF moments as well:
While the top section was more of that classic Gnar theme eating Adrian’s tires once more, the lower half was inviting us back into swoopy woods territory, which suited me just fine. I happened across Jules, who was getting looser than a food poisoned All Black (#neverforget), he was right back into his wild man dust production antics once again:
And then came the moment more horrifying than walking in to meet your future father in law, only to find him watching Fox news and cleaning an AR15 whilst wearing a cuntish red hat… Not to oversell it, but as I approached the section in question, all I heard in thickly accented english, far too late, was: “Oh NO! On the left bro, on the LEFT!” This was not a good omen…
This advice was super useful given I was past the point of no return and about to get sucked into a canyon that was pretending to be a rut. The crime scene indicated I wasn’t the first fuckbag to get lured in here, but as I squealed like a Trump campaign aide and felt both my feet come out of the pedals as they ricocheted off the canyon walls in a moment of terror that felt never ending, I did have time to conclude that this ‘rut’ was indeed deeper than most relationships I’ve had in life:
On most days, my day and potentially race would have ended in that dream killing Rut Canyon, but somehow I managed to pinball my shrieking way out of Beggars canyon and after a few “Fucken hell cunt” self talk moments, it was time to press on and ride the rest of our luck out.
So we’d had gnar, then some flowy woods, a death rut/canyon born in the depths of hell – The only thing left was a mad extended sprint section down a dust 4WD track which made a mockery of my pathetic 30 x 11 dad gears, punctuated by some crazy bus stops routed through trees. I attempted to ride into the race tape on multiple occasions as my brain ran out of oxygen.
The daily results are still showing up as: “error|404 #no.encontrado“, online, so you’re spared the hand wringing here – Ironic given I suspect all my best stage results came on Day 4 and 5. Somewhere, someone is laughing at me in Spanish.
Once we had retrieved Adrian from puking in the bushes (because endless punctures and dehydration wasn’t enough), we loaded up for the final vehicle transfer of the week… Holy shit, say it ain’t so! We were now fully entering the paradox zone mentioned above, where all of a sudden what you’d been looking forward to all week, you didn’t really want – Being an discontented fuckwit has to be one of the best things about being human.
Holy shit, in a day of ‘final’ moments, the last crazy off road uplift was upon us… If you’re a nervous passenger then this was probably the moment you were looking forward to the most on Day 5, but to give credit to the Monten Baik team, they really do nail the logistics and organisation approach here. I doubt this race could happen without their passion, balls and these trucks:
It wasn’t lost on the crowd either that this was the final uplift of the week… Given the time we had spent together riding these thrashed rental chariots of radness to the next date with Anti-Grip, it was only fitting that a collective wave of stoke and euphoria gripped the assembled crowd as the reality set in that we could almost taste the giant novelty beer waiting for us at Beach Camp…
But before we could feel the sensation of warm beer spilling down our beards and calling each other cunts with a mix of gusto and relief, we had to navigate the final push to set up the last 2 stages. 3.4kms, 100m down and 350m up are data points which strongly suggest you’re going to be feeling downtube on your neck at some point – You fucking know what the caption needs to be here as well by now:
As we hauled our beaten chassis’ up this final test, a kind of euphoria took over – This was the last hump, the final portage and the ticking off of another milestone in another amazing adventure. I’m not sure I spent enough time appreciating this, or perhaps I was just distracted by the insane view that now assaulted our eyes. We’d transcended the clouds and there was an eerie feeling of being on top of the world before we commenced smashing it back down for the final Chilean tests.
Stage 15 – Quebradilla: 4.2km’s with 490m drop
The last ‘big’ test of the week… While it’s numbers were fairly ordinary, Stage 15 was allegedly one of the favourite classic local trails, especially for walkers.
WTF? We hadn’t seen any walking trails all week, but for those of you that grew up riding in the 90’s, you’ll recall that special sweet sensation of smashing local walking trails and absolutely fucking inter-activity relations when MTB was in it’s infancy. Nothing could quite match the thrill of an enraged walker after they’d been ambushed by a chromoly hardtail, especially when you suggested that they were the cunt that needed to watch where they were going… Well, walking trails in Chile aren’t like the ones you find behind over-gentrified suburbs:
In a day of paradox’s, stage 15 was one in itself, some massive pedal clipping moments in the top half, with the kind of gnar seen above, only to give way to a smoothness usually only seen after a full Brazilian, which invariably meant it was fast as absolute fuck for most of the stage, like, freeway fast. That didn’t mean it wasn’t without a few HOLY FUCK moments to catch you out:
I was eating this shit up like I was at a Chilean BBQ buffet, call it in the zone if you will, but this was a massively fun trail to race blind and shit was feeling GOOOOD, this fucker was flowing like a Chilean Eagle vs Shark and as I started to smell the familiar cheese fondue scent of #SwissMissile, the froth-o-meter was starting to bang against the red line – Contrary to the first 3 days, I was actually starting to feel sensational. Even Gary was excited:
I’ve really glossed over the penultimate stage to be honest, partly through laziness, partly through running out of words on such a big week. But rather than me describe it inch by inch, take 8 minutes to appreciate it here, at a much faster rate as well, via the Rat boy onboard view.
Its hard to describe how impressive the speed is here given they’ve never seen this trail – Its basically the equivalent of actually having sex with someone you’ve just met at a speed dating evening, yes, in the public venue before the bell rings… I’m not sure if that’s ever been done, but it would look like this if it has:
Shit was amping after a stage like that. Yes, it was tamer than most of the stuff we had ridden all week, but the combination of a fucking fast stage, another step closer to finishing without being maimed and the fact the final stage was only 500m from the finish of Stage 15 meant that the stoke was getting to embarrassingly high levels. How high? High enough to ask a Swiss gentleman to take a photo of you while you smile like a useful idiot and throw the forks for the 407th time that week
Stage 16 – Los Corrales: 2.2km’s with 240m drop
Oh man… Here it is, the final stage of the week! In line with the mixed emotions, lining up for this one was weird, and not just because it started 500m from the finish of the previous stage. Only 2.2km’s separated us from banking the self professed experience of a lifetime and for the most part without major mechanical or physical calamity.
Do you hang back and safe mode it to the end? Do you try and savour that shit and squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it? Or do you charge it like a constipated rhino? Given it was the second shortest stage of the week it didn’t really deserve to be over analysed, especially when the first half basically felt like it was an XC race.
After a lot of grunting and fumbling about, we eventually did get the sweet release of dropping down into some flowy woods which were starting to fill with excited locals, but I’ll be honest, much like workplace oral sex, quicker than I expected, it was all over:
I’m not trying to sell the final stage short here, we rode over rocks and went around tight corners etc etc, but it was overshadowed by a weird combo of “Holy fuck its the last stage” combined with “Holy fuck, I’m not riding like a complete cunt and it feels weird“, I will admit to a strong bout of relief and achievement stoke when this point arrived, seen here wrapped up in a delicious layer of narcissism:
Daily results – 34th overall for the day was not only the best result of the week, but it felt a lot better than the 60th on Day 1. Motto of the story being sleep is useful for blind ENDURO racing.
In Masters it officially said 4th overall for the day, but no one was accredited with 2nd and when looking at the results, I was 3rd based on the times, so I shall put that on a deposit slip immediately. If you had told me on Day 1 that I would bank a 3rd place for a daily result at some stage in that week I would have been confused between pissing my Race Face shorts with a hearty laughter, or slapping you vigourously as a purveyor of Fake News.
More importantly, the wanking data/results monkey highlighted that for the day we were only 23 seconds per racing KM slower than Marky Mark, or put another way: Twice as fast as usual. Good to know it only took me 5 days to get going. Cancel the Marathon XC career, week long blind ENDURO racing is SO hot right now.
Overall results – 6th in Masters for the week out of the 23 survivors, with close to 175 minutes of racing when it was all said and done. That’s around 32 minutes behind winner Jeff Beeston, who as far as I can tell won every day and by the looks, won every single fucking stage as well… Hesus! Beast mode.
In the big sandpit, 38th overall out of 72 finishers isn’t quite top half of the field, but given I finished up day 1 in 60th for the day, I will take that outcome and fucking frame it. For a reference point, total racing time for Jesse Melamed was 126 minutes, over 74.7km’s of racing stages. But vastly more important than being an also ran was the fucking good times that were had with these Good Cunts right here:
You know you’ve achieved your next level stalker merit badge when you’re the only one looking at the camera in amongst MTB celebrities, but I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. Somewhere in Chile some poor Groms have pics of what they naturally think is the Santa Cruz team…
Profiles in Good Cuntishness – Part 2: Which segway’s us nicely (that’s corporate cuntspeak for interrupting what someone was saying to changing the topic to something you wanted to talk about because you like your voice more than theirs and because talking in meetings gives you a stiffy) to our final GC profile of the week, Gary Perkin. Ignoring that I almost always want to put an ‘S’ on the end of his surname, pretty much all the banger pics seen in the Dirty race reports have come from Gary, whilst he wasn’t there to provide such amateur community service, the fact he takes the time to shoot us and pass them on is fucking legendary. That aside, Gary is fucking great to chat with in the dinner queue or traverse deadly French exposure with, which when you think about it, is quite a wide spectrum of good cuntishness… He even doesn’t mind being accosted in a weird half man hug fuelled by immediate & excessive post event euphoria:
All that was left now was to wheelie back to camp and have cold showers… I outsourced most of this to Mark.
As we arrived at Beach Camp it was pretty clear that we had now also arrived at the other end of the Chilean socio-economic scale as well, with these coastal villas being gangsta as FUCK, it was like being transported to another world considering where we had been that morning.
Granted, I was probably the only one thinking about architecture and inequality briefly before being adorned by our finishers medals and cracking into our extremely large victory beers. Important to note this may be the only time in my life I will finish an ENDURO race and have a medal around my neck. You can almost taste the sweat, warm beer and stoke right here, not to mention there is enough bromance here to make the Grindr app blush:
But in all seriousness, or as serious as it gets here, a massive Dirty thanks to this bunch of rad Good Cunts who really made this event what it was. Yes, there is a lot that goes into these weeks to make them incredible, but if you had to roll through it all with weird cunts, it would absolutely fucking suck. Good trails, awesome food and dialled logistics only go so far as we know, so it was this crew that cemented the week as a legit all time Dirty classic.
I’m the first to plead guilty that I wank on too much about it being “All about the crew“, a paradox given I generally don’t like people, but fuck me and then make me sign an NDA if I’m not right. I was grateful that we rolled an awesome crew all through the AP and I’m looking forward to the next adventure with these units.
Meanwhile, people were still stunned that Elijah Wood could ride mountain bikes so fast, so collectively everyone got together to pour beer all over him and scream Spanish words in his face whilst asking him when the next Hobbit movie was coming out.
The general relief of being back at a camp and not needing to run around like a headless Chilean chicken getting ready for another day of Andean Gnar combat was palpable… Instead we could roam around in stinking reused gear calling each other cunts, fisting one another with reckless abandon, spitting beer in one another’s face whilst over-exuberantly describing our day/week and of course, getting some quality PRO stalking done on the side…
And in the final Mark’s Shoes update, those muthafuckas made it to the coast alright, where after one local beer they rightly got exactly what they’d been asking for all week:
All that was left now was to fill the #SwissMissile full of mushrooms and cheap Chilean beer and then let him unleash the dance moves he learned working in an underground Geneva pegging bar to pay his way through University… He did not disappoint, but nor did he get accepted into the female dance circle, super confusing given he was so fly that even Vanilla Ice wouldn’t have taken that shit on.
I know what you’re thinking – Hold up, what about the coast muthafucka?! Where is the BEACH?! After all, the whole point of this was to go from the Andean heights of insanity and then bask in the refreshing goodness of the South Pacific! How could we not ride down to the beach and bound into the ocean?!
Well, aside from the fact that sand is a total cunt to ride on, essentially pretty much everyone was too fingered to attempt that glorious moment of victory. This is probably a good thing given most of us would have cramped up and drowned. We did eventually make it down there the next day however, Mark was disappointed he didn’t bring his 510’s to drown them in the ocean.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m fucking drilled and essentially spent on the Race Report front… As I’ve run out of words and you’ve run out of attention span, let’s call it quits for now. I’ll naturally be back with a traditional wrap up and extra dirty tips post following this, but for now that’s all the racing action and Chilean frothing.
Besides, to do this total experience justice in wrapping it up, it really deserves its own follow up post that has been afforded the luxury of marinading in the reflective juices of post event malaise. Sometimes its not until you’ve got back to HQ and picked that last thorn out of your skin do you realise what you’ve just experienced.
A massive thanks to the Monten Baik crew who put on a crazy awesome race, there will be more plaudits in the wrap up post, but for now let’s just say we fucking love your work.
Andes Pacifico Race Reports… OUT!