Posted by Editor on 03/20/09
Holla from Santiago! The Canadian MTB Team of Catherine Pendrel, Amanda Sin, Emily Batty, Seamus McGrath, Max Plaxton, Derek Zandstra and Matt Hadley arrived in Santiago Chile on Wednesday AM for the Pan Am MTB Championships. The trip was uneventful....but the airport was a different story and Matt was busted, taken into a little back room and presumably tortured for trying to smuggle a small bag of raisins into Chile. He forgot that they were in his bag, and there are strict rules about importing any form of fruit, seeds, nuts and food into Chile. Luckily he was just given a fine and sent on his way....the funny thing is the raisins probably came from Chile in the first place.
That minor delay behind us we loaded up vans and started our journey to the race course. The info that the CCA received said it was a 30 km trip to the course....turns out that 30 km trip is how far it is from our accommodations to the XC course. We were given the correct information on the course and it's elevation of 1100m. However, our accommodations are 30 km away, and in that 30 km there are 40 switchbacks and an elevation gain of 2000m as we (and all of the athletes) are staying at a ski resort rather high up in the Andes. We have a very quaint little house sitting all by itself about a km out of the main village of Parva with fabulous views and great hosts who have prepared some wonderful meals, it's just a bit of a trip to and from the course. And the Tarantulas in the bathroom are always entertaining....
The course has gotten rave reviews from the riders. Very sandy, loose and dusty, but some hard climbs, tricky technical sections and lots of variety. The course runs up and down each side of a river valley and each 6.5 km lap should take about 20-22 minutes. It will also be hot as the forecast for the whole week is in the low 30's. At this time it looks like the U-23 and Elite Women race at 11:30 AM and the U-23 and Elite Men go at 2 PM on Sunday. The team will pre-ride the course again on Friday, but then competition for the other categories starts on Saturday so we'll be finding somewhere else to ride.
It's always nice to see familiar faces when racing in far away places and it was a pleasant surprise to see Canadian commisairs Fred Siemens and Pierre Blanchard at the race headquarters today. Hopefully we don't need their help on Sunday.
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