Posted by Editoress on 01/29/13
Canadians Matt Hadley and Benoit Simard are riding the TransAndes Chile offroad stage race for Team Xprezo in the two-man team category. They won every stage in their category.
So stage 5 we started out with another neutral start, everyone stayed out of trouble and when the quad pulled off Benoit and I went to the front to get into the woods in the lead group. The racing was fast, as the lead two open men were separated by only a 3 minute gap, and the third and fourth place teams were quite close as well.
The first section was tight fun singletrack, and we were at the front pushing the pace, then the solo men attacked and got away. The course rolled a lot on gravel roads, before we started a long gradual climb on very rough doubletrack, with lots of sketchy log bridges. This climb brought us to the feedzone where we topped up our bottles and stomachs, and then we started the hike-a-bike.
It was a solid hike-a-bike, with steep grades and a mixture of cow pasture, loose rock, and sand to walk in. At the top we even had 200 metres of downed trees to climb over. It took us bout 15 minutes, and we were able to see that the fourth place team of Ricardo and Alberto was doing very well and not that far behind. This certainly motivated us, as we still wanted to win all the stages even if we didn’t need it for the overall. After the hike-a-bike we climbed for another 30 minutes before starting a super fast logging road descent.
I let Benoit go first and had to pull over to let the dust settle enough to see. Normally for the descents I could follow close enough to essentially look over his shoulder so the dust didn’t have time to billow up before I could see what was there, but for this descent I let too big a gap open up and just had to wait it out. Five minutes later I emerged from the bottom hacking up dust and Benoit and I settled into time trial mode on the gravel roads.
One of the solo men, Tiago, had caught us, and we rode together at a fast pace in “the train of silence”. Well, actually, Tiago was chatting it up about tire pressure, volume, compound, etc, which was driving Benoit crazy, so we rode even harder. I felt great and took long pulls, and it wasn’t long before we saw the stunning Villarica volcano in the distance - where we knew our finish was nearby at Pucon.
We finished our day by crossing a skinny little bridge and holding our bikes over the side so the oncoming car could pass. We were thirrd overall and first team after 78 kilometres, and 2000 metres of climbing.
Results not available
Stage 6 was shortened to 33 kilometres and it started out fast like an XC race. There were lots of tactics going on, as the battle for third and fourth in the team category was only separated by 3 minutes. The fourth place team got a gap early on the climb and we spent the entire 15 kilometres climb up the volcano reeling them in. We caught them just at the top and passed them on the descent.
The descent was gnarly, with no trail whatsoever, we were riding on a lava field, with big holes, some vegetation, and large rocks, so you had to look where you were to pick a good line, and at the same time scan far ahead for the pink ribbons to follow. We survived the lava field and got into some really fun fast singletrack, and cruised into the finish for the win in our category. We hung out at the finish in time to see what had happened, and the fourth place team got enough of a lead to move into third!
That evening we had the awards, where we won large woodcarvings as our trophy. The evening progressed with a display of horseback riding, where the riders cornered a cow between two horses, with one rider getting his horse to ride sideways! Next up was traditional Chilean dance, followed by an open fire pit with roast lamb on bamboo staves.
It was an awesome trip and race. We did not have any mechanicals and were very happy with our new XPREZO 650b bikes. Every day we were treated to stunning scenery, great riding, food, and friends. The weather was perfect and I certainly hope to come back next year!
Thanks again to Nativo Concept for providing support and clothing, and to XPREZO for the handmade Canadian bikes!
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