Vamos a la playa!
All of a sudden it's the final day of the 2017 Andes Pacifico ... the time feels like it has flown by and it's ending all too soon. That being said, I'm not sure how much more our bodies and bikes could endure.
As we mentioned yesterday, the wild fires that raged in the south of Chile had the Montenbaik organisers scrambling to find new stages and campsites. If you think the last few stages were going to be a second rate you were in for the surprise of your life!
First up were two stages close to our camp in La Ligua. To wake up our sore bodies a 600m vert hike-a-bike took us to the first of the final four stages - Mesones - and our first sighting of the Pacific. After an initial flat out section above the tree line the trail entered the forest to rail dirt that had been getting grippier by the day since leaving the Andes. Then after a particularly brutal 25% hike-a-bike back up to another part of the hill a short, physical 2nd stage took us back down to lunch and the pick-ups.
Loading up into the trucks we all wondered how tough the last hike would be and more importantly what thrills the last two stages would provide. Thankfully the listed 800m-plus vert hike-a-bike was shortened with an uplift to "just" 390m vert but it was still tough going after almost 5 days and about almost 3000m of climbing. But that all faded away when we hit the trails for the last two stages. After some initial loose descending on a brand new extension trail we joined one of Chile's best known trails—Quebrada del Tigre—Tiger Creek. This bench cut masterpiece went on and on for what felt like forever - the winning time was 8 minutes 22 seconds to put it into perspective. It was such fun that myself and the photo crew railed the whole thing from top to bottom without stopping—it was just that good. We were giddy by the bottom.
The next stage was more of the same goodness with a vocal crowd gathered in the steep woods near the finish to cheer on the racers. A last punchy climb awaited the riders at the end of the stage before a brutal flat out pedal made sure they emptied the tank in the last pedal of the race.
A quick downhill liaison to the new camp at Cachagua, a cold beer and then it was time for a dip in the even colder Pacific Ocean.
Then it was time for the prize giving and closing party where the pisco flowed like wine and many a story from the week's action was shared long into the night to end the 2017 Andes Pacifico in style.