Chris Johnston's Race Diaries: Andes Pacifico

12 Chris Landscape

27 Sunset

Ex-pat Wellingtonian Chris "The Courier" Johnston has had a rough twelve months since breaking his elbow at the Andes Pacifico enduro in Chile this time last year. He came back strongly towards the end of the season and has been working hard to make 2015 count. He got off to a great start at the very place that ended it all for him last year...

What a whirlwind week. It feels great to be home and sleeping in my own bed again, but at the same time, what an amazing trip. Dylan (Wolsky) and I headed to Chile for the Andes Pacifico 4 Day Enduro. It was a race I was a little nervous about, especially after my injury there last year. My plan was to finish the race this year and enjoy the adventure. However, finishing in third place was a nice bonus.

1 Unpacking

2Nico's BBQ

The day before the race we were lucky enough to get a grand tour of Eduardo’s (one of the event organizers) family winery. It was amazing to see the hard work that goes into producing some of Chile's finest wines.

On Tuesday afternoon we were transported to our first campsite in Antawaya at the foot of the Andes. After a long drive down dirt roads I don't think many of us were expecting such beautiful facilities and camp area.

5 Dinner time

 After dinner event organizer Matias briefed the competitors on what lay ahead for the following day. The briefings were informative and contained some light hearted humour including, 'You will see a lot of cactus, don't look at the cactus because you will end up in the cactus' and another favourite, 'Be aware of the festival of switchbacks.'

7 Liftie lunch

The views were mind blowing, we made sure to stop now and then just to take it all in.

On our drive to camp Antawaya we had to pull over to let the local Chilean cowboys by. The rugged terrain didn't make this look like an easy task.

The first stage of Day 2 began here and descended into the valley below. If the views weren't enough to get you excited, Red Bull also had a DJ pumping out the tunes as riders crossed the start line.

A rider waiting at the start line, waiting their turn to descend into the unknown trail ahead.

 Enjoying some alpine single track high in the Andes during the transfer stages.

At the end of a long day and 6 stages of racing, we were treated with some delicious Chilean cuisine. Empanadas, the South American equivalent of a meat pie. They were destroyed in seconds.

 Every meal was delicious during the week at Andes Pacifico. There was a great variety featuring various local specialities.

Day 3 was situated in Santa Cruz in the Colchagua valley wine region. Riders set off from camp to the top of the mountain ahead for the first stage of the day.

16-Lunch-at-vineyard

18 Garmin

Once we got back to camp we had the option of visiting some of the local vineyards. We took a tour of Lapostelle Winery, 6 stories tall (5 underground) which allows them to process all their wine by gravity and also allows them to regulate the temperature in the building keeping it a cool 15 degrees. In the tasting room the glass table (pictured top right) is also the entrance to a 2 story cellar housing 6000+ bottles below.

Due to the nature of the shuttle roads throughout Andes Pacifico 4x4 trucks were a must. Here the convoy waits for a few stragglers left behind.

Santa Cruz marketing man and BMX legend Allan Cooke high 5's some local kids who were out cheering us on.

An example of  'Anti Grip'. The term that describes Chile's loose moon dust surface.

After 4 solid days of racing we arrived at the small coastal town of Matanzas. It felt pretty good to make it to the end this year and take a well deserved swim.

After not completing last years Andes Pacifico due to a broken elbow. It was an amazing feeling to not only make it to the finish this time, but also to land a spot on the podium.

It's a tradition here at Andes Pacifico to celebrate with the local speciality of Pisco sours. Its even got its own hashtag. #nopisconodisco

Andes Pacifico 2015 was a truly unique race packed with many unforgettable memories. Thanks to all the organizers and staff for putting on such an amazing and well organized event.