Iago Garay and Mark Scott of the Santa Cruz-SRAM Enduro Team, along with Free Agent Cedric Gracia, headed down to Chile to take on the infamous 'anti-grip' dirt of the high Andes. As usual, Gary Perkin's on the scene to capture the high highs and the still-pretty-high lows of the race. Read on for Gary's first dispatch, and check back the rest of the week while the race unfolds.
Day 1 of Andes Pacifico is all about the Andes—high above the La Parva ski resort to be precise.
It's where we had the first stage four years ago and where we headed again today. To stand on the edge of the summit at 3600m above sea level or so is both a privilege and somewhat sobering experience as you know you have to get all the way down the mountain!
The first stage was a revisit of that historic stage and was the perfect introduction to the day. People got to grips with the famous "anti-grip" and also shook of the nerves of the unknown for the first timers.
Stage 2 passed by the Refugio made famous in the Nomad launch video before racers headed back up the hill for lunch and the start of stage 3 - the infamous Parvaso stage. In all the previous editions we've never raced down to the bottom of this trail - either stopping short and cruising down or peeling off early. But today riders raced the famed steeps normally reserved for DH bikes.
The day's final stage was last years 2nd stage - but with a fair bit of fine tuning and to me it felt a lot better than last years struggle fest just to make it to the bottom. Mark found his way into some of Chile's famous flora, though, and said, "It was a solid day, but I managed to get off line on stage 2 and got wrapped up in the weeds which then strangled my derailleur. It was so bad I had to remove the cassette to get it all out. I then went on to win the last stage - and ended the day in 11th."
Iago's one of the more experienced Andes riders in the field, but had his fair share of high-mountain mishaps, saying, "I had a lot of fun but mechanicals took their toll over the day and had to nurse her home a bit with tubes in the tyres and that kind of thing. 13th overall though so not all is lost."
Tomorrow we head deeper into the Andes for Day 2.