Monday, 30 January 2012

TransAndes debrief

I really enjoyed the terrain, vistas, weather, people and overall experience. I'd really like to come back again. Cindy has expressed interest in doing the challenge version for the last three days, which is much more fun riding and just less pounding your head against the wall till it cracks. They do a good job of finding fun stuff to ride, with some that's harder too. Reminds me a bit of TransRockies 5 years ago.

Chileans are organized and calm. Even when foreigners would congregate on small hotel restaurants, join into one massive tab, rearrange the tables, and tell stories all aft with the South African's killing their cerveza supply, they weren't even remotely fazed... just nice and calm.

Food is fantastic in restaurants. Just tastes so good, and like there's very few preparatory steps and additives. Very natural tasting. Little light on the grainy mustard, hot sauce and pepper availability, but I'll try to fix that next time. Race food was typical camp food. Afternoons were good, dinners I had were good. Breakfast did the job I'd say, but not much more. Chilean wine offered at every meal tasted good. I need to design a mini spice kit for the road. Their idea of mess kits is good, but getting them cleaned just led to another line. A FIFO system at washing might be better than keeping "your own" plates each time.

I learned a lot more about Trish. She was super fun to ride with and I have more admiration/pride for her abilities and who she is through this experience by a long shot. She's so mild conversation, but has a huge killer instinct when it comes to competing. Deadgoat MVP! So calm all week, organized, super driven, never weak on the bike, and practising that Spanish! Great partner.

Superthanks to Cristobal Garcia for being the first to stop for Trish. He was riding mixed and was quite strong, and he expressed dismay (ok, let's say he was downright livid) that as he stopped a massive group of the Carmichael people went by, seemingly without care or just oblivious to someone who could benefit from some help, (and help like pronto). He then went to a farmhouse to call the police to get them to call the medics, which is why they were at that nearby corner. Very thoughtful. The medics were efficient and very nice, kudos to them. Superthanks also to John Ramsden for doing up the bandage roadside then later doing the staples for Trish.

Everybody knows Steve and Gerry are great riders, great beer drinkers, and great storytellers. Nothing changes!

My camping mat is 10 years old and it appears most new ones are half the size. I think it's time to upgrade. That makes a difference in a race duffel; especially if I can then fit an A1/mustard/tobasco kit. I've spent, and will continue to spend, enough time living out of race duffel bags to make that worth it.

I've brought a cold weather sleeping bag over bag for last few years, all it's designed to do is move the frost layer out on a winter bag. It's awesome cause it packs to the size of a watermelon without compression. Then I wear my clothes to stay warm if it's cold and save space. I was cold a few nights after losing my icebreaker sweater. I think it's time to get a compact, light, 15% warmer bag. Or maybe just a silk liner would suffice. We'll see.

Icebreaker merino stuff is awesome. Warm wet or dry, never stinks. Can bike, sleep or lounge in it. Excellent way to shrink the packing by needing less different stuff.

It's fun to watch bike trends and technology change. All these Cannondale 29er hardtails are lighter than my first road bike. I bet they'd be nice for this type of race. But not once during 6 days do I not love the Scalpel. It just works for me; I love the geometry and feel. It's been through a lot. Being realistic though, it might need a refresh if BCBR/TR/Breck all happen on that bike this year.

The big Carmichael group here is interesting. High price training and event package. Insular in culture from rest of race. Sets up aid stops 3m ahead of race provided one, instead of perhaps 3m after in same spot, which would make sense to me. This facilitates their people being able to yell at nearly every rider who rolls up just seeing a stop: "Carmichael group only, you go to next one". The girls working for them irked me early by being aggressive line cutters for dishes, silverware, etc. At the end, what matters is the event, scenery, I guess result to some, all for the combined experience. It wasn't immediately visible to me that *that* experience was going to create a better memory. To each their own. Amongst the race participants from various parts of the world whom we chatted to during the week, it did seem to do a good job of reinforcing American abroad stereotypes.

Speaking of training, it's amazing what a winter of 90 min intensity trainer rides can do for fitness in the off season. Felt good this race. Day 2 the climbs were so steep I couldn't even granny gear without blowing through my threshold, but was fine after that.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

TransAndes Day 6 - Termas de Menetue to Pucon

Final day was a 52km sprint to Pucon. Lots of road and gravel, little bit of climbing. We chased onto our front row starting competition after the first few climbs. We did cat and mouse on the rollers, and Trish apparently had nothing but jet fuel for breakfast cause the fire in her belly was stoked.

On the 10k of road we did essentially a neutral section with them on our wheel. I soft pedalled as to not burn out for the hills. Once we got to the gravel climbs, Trish started to fire off bullets. We talked about just sitting in, as there's no need to put in time, and 8 minutes is essentially insurmountable on a stage like this.

We hit a downhill with a bend at the bottom and Trish went a bit wide and had a minor wipe out. Picked up the bike and hopped on for the hill. I slowed down to see, cross chained, then broke my f'ing chain. Ended up having to do two quicklinks. Or I'd call them moderately prompt links. Probably wasted 8 minutes while Trish was solo with the team. I had confidence she could hold in. So by the time I got my act together, I was settling in for the mental task of the best time trial I could muster, and I was stoked as the light rain, cool, and terrain with fast gravel corners were perfect. Also plenty of people ahead now to catch for mini breaks, and the rollers I could do.

So head down for 10 mins as hard as I could go, then come to a straight and see a group of people in a gaggle at the side of the road. Then as I near I see John Ramsden's jacket (doctor who intubated the Shimano mechanic who got shocked by touching a tent pole to a power line after day 4) and he's talking to... oh no it's Trish!

So Trish had a high speed spill on the gravel. Said it didn't even hurt, and when she got up she was surprised it was even bleeding. But it was, a lot. Big elbow/forearm cut, and flap open on the knee. She had a bandage on that was soaked. We regrouped, and soft pedalled onward. Stopped at aid 1 but decided to keep rolling. Her arm was sore on the bumps. The Codigo33 emergency crew was at the T intersection a few kilometers later and we bailed for cleaning and prep for stitches. I held sterile water, tucked her into a blanket, and tried to draw attention away every time the guy wanted to show her the flaps of skin. Trish was pretty unfazed by it all. After cooling down for a half hour standing in the shade and cool breeze with intermittent sprinkles, I wasn't hot on riding, plus I had to go find bag three for Trish and get stuff ready for her at the end. We're a pretty fast DNF at least!

Jumped in an F150 Shimano truck and cruised in. Saw both the other mixed teams finish, they just looked at me funny like what was I doing there with a jacket on. Specialized was super nice and marvelled at Trish's strength, and the above picture kind of explained the rest. Giant team wants to do BCBR.

Steve had a fast day. Gerry all smiles at the line.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Termas de Menetue

Nice lodge. They're expanding the restaurant patio toward the pool. Two more equivalent sized buildings to the left with hot pools inside. I like the natural wood construction.

TransAndes Day 5 - Termas de Menetue to Termas de Menetue

Nice camping in the same spot again. Afternoon food at the lodge has been good (breakfast pretty thin/slow); pool is great.

Many said today was the hardest day. Fortunately Trish and I didn't agree!

We started today ~3 minutes up on a hard charging Specialized team who was attacking at every opportunity. Course was say 15-20km flat, 15-20 up, 15-20 down, then 15-20 return flat, for I think 78 in total.

The first 4k of neutral weren't really, as the pace was high and the pushing started right away. There was only two hills before a long flat stretch, we crested in good place and got to work eating dust for the next 40 mins. Spit and snot came out all black thereafter. Ugh. Mary McConnelug was smart having a dust mask. We got in some decent pacelines, then it was just me pulling Trish and a pack of others for a while. After reading excerpts of Scar Tissue that Cindy is working on, and the part about how the Chili Peppers wrote Give it Away, I felt less motivated to keep a tight lid on extra energy. So I just gave it away... then dug in to stay with Trish on the climb.

We saw our rivals a minute ahead on the road climb, and we just soft pedalled and ate before the massive spike up in the middle of the course. After aid 1 the climbing started in earnest - granny gear or walking trail that was super steep and say moderate technical. Trish of course has no need to dismount on this. We see the team ahead, girl is riding and guy is walking + pushing. Other people are walking. Trish takes the outside crap line and spins by on a steep part. I'm 10 feet behind and get glorious view of this deadgoat hall of fame moment. The girl lets out something in a whiny tone, hops of bike, and guy pushes both. Perfect. I ride by cause now's not a hot time to show the beads of sweat rolling off my brow, and once I pass they start bickering back and forth in debate. It couldn't have been better. Next time you see Trish, a cheers to this deatgoat moment is in order.

We keep climbing and putting in time, then it gets to forested trail that has big logs, ruts and steeps that are hike a bike. The team are true competitors as they pull it back together, and guy can push so strong for both on the hike that they reel us in and pass just before the crest (I think they also knew exactly where to turn on the jets before the crest).

Trish drops in to chase on the descent. I stop, eat, put on my gloves (off on climbs as it's so hot). I'm having a blast, and come up first to the girl. Trish had passed both somehow, and guy was chasing her and girl was holding on. I deke by the girl, the guy sees this at a wide spot and pulls over, and off we go on some really sweet singletrack around a beautiful high elevation mountain lake. Just a great trail. We spin away doing our thing.

Eventually we get to a super steep loose dust descent then gravel road with rollers where they catch up. Headwinds complete the picture. No way to achieve any separation practically speaking, so we sit in, and she gets pushed up every hill. Trish sits on the guys wheel and accelerates over each top, and if there's any help from me it's out of their sight. This plays headgames with them and forces 10 hard pedal strokes for them over each top.

They go intense on a downhill, and turns out they know a big suspension bridge is coming. We pull off the road and try to pass, but they were smart getting in first as the trail is pure dust. We have to hang back to see the surface, and even then Trish has a little wipeout.

They walk the hanging bridge first and attack on the downhill road. Smart move gets them 30 seconds. Trish goes across the bridge first, and I ask the guy if it's necessary to walk. He says everyone does cause it sways. But I ask if it's totally necessary. He said I could ride. Talk about vertigo - big gaps in the boards, but not as much as a mountain bike tire. Plus sitting on a saddle, the entire railing is below my handlebars. Sweet. We roll off and hit the jets on the downhill to aid 2, which is 2km away. They knew this too and loaded her up with drinks he carried so she blew by. We were dry but I took Trish's bottle to fill; Trish chased her.

It took me quite a while of uncomfortable tempo with an extra bottle in my back and my cheeks full of potatoes to catch on - just saw all three of them on the other side of a creek crossing. They had friends there handing them a bottle while rolling. Trish was ahead on a loose climb of baseball sized rocks, and she drilled it. They were ahead of me, on the two lines, pushing. They simultaneously dismounted and put bikes across the trail. I splashed through the river at full speed to take momentum up. I decided to go left, and it was all basketball sized rocks. I'd either look like a dolt and have some really dipshit wipeout or perhaps make it... and fortunately I Stappler'd out of the climb and made it. We hit the jets on the downhill and had a good gap. I pulled on the gravel road, then we saw 3 guys up ahead. Trish dug in and we caught on.

The three Chilean guys were aware of the competition, and didn't appear keen to have a freeloading pair on the last 20k of headwind... but we needed them to save me severe burnout. Making friends is easy with a headwind though. I got in a few big pulls, two other guys did say 25% each, and Trish and one tired guy held on.

Last 3k had a couple climbs then rolled in, the group just thanked us and let us roll in ahead, except for one dude who seemed to want to put in his 30 seconds more. Not a problem for us.

Bam! Checked my watch, got two big cokes and bananas, and counted minutes. Started they day 3 min up roughly (unless I missed another revision), and put in 5!

Cindy got the day off from logistics for running and pool time. Yesterday was more adventurous as Juan's girlfriend tried riding the challenge event for the last three days, so Cindy got to drive his Diesel 4Runner to the finish, sin directiones, sin Espanol, and sin petroleo (until a stop). How's that for a surprise Chilean pop quiz?

We've been sitting poolside to relax. Got in my first two 10 minute exchange the right ideas through crummy Spanish conversations yesterday and today with people asking about the race. Haven't seen Steve yet other than first climb, I think the relative lack of hiking will be good for his blister situation. Hear Gerry didn't start today but I don't know.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

TransAndes Day 4 - Termas de Conaripe to Termas de Menetue

First, the idea of riding from hotspring to hotspring through the Andes is a really good one, if you're into mountain biking.

Really enjoyable day. Gravel road climb off the start, some flats to cross a valley, then a 20km climb to the high point, followed by downhill to the finish with a few km of flat in the other valley. Roadie day in some ways, beautiful views of volcanos along the way. Great scenery overall in this part of the world.

We climbed hard off the start, and dabbled with some pushing due to some of Trish's gears skipping till we worked out some barrel adjuster strategy. Everyone else pushes to the max.

On the valley floor there was a bunch of singletrack that led Trish to get frustrated with the riding "skills" of the field, and did sweet blazing passes of handfuls at a time. I did a bunch of work on the flat keeping us in a group to draft, burnt a few matches.

We eased into the big climb, and right off the bat the Specialized Chilean team saw us and started pushing. Trish just stormed by and we didn't look back. I'd boost her over the steep to flat transitions to get her up to middle ring, and off we went on our own. I was feeling tired by aid 1, and chowed on potatoes as Trish motored off. Had to chase back on uphill with potatoes in my cheeks which took 10 minutes. Climb was long long, top was shaded in a beauty forest though. So hot at the top. I forgot to mention earlier, but the last few days when I'm completely strung out on the climbs, sweating as much as possible, I've really enjoyed the cool refreshing burst of energy from hot peanut butter Gu's. They should do egg nog too.

So I kept telling myself the top was near, just empty out and keep going, as I had caught Trish and was setting pace. That willpower worked until a last steep climb she spun up and I just gulped peanut butter for a second in the sun.

Didn't matter, downhill was a blast and easy to make up 10 seconds on. Long downhill on nice trail, then road. We screamed into aid 2, and as we were almost ready to leave, the other mixed team spotted us as they rolled in. They descend fast. The girl rolled on and dude grabbed stuff then took off. We caught on, then just sat in, as results showed us 12 min up (more on this math later). He did a large number of hero pulls, but eventually realized on a net downhill, separation wasn't going to happen. On the flats I pulled with another Canadian guy, and they sat on. I think if he pulled he would have just rode 15km/h in protest.

Turned left with 3k to go up a steep climb and she launches. He moves in for the push, and Trish follows. Unwilling to yield time at the end, I push Trish hard. Road flattens, then it happens again. Top of that one he looks over and I just smile. After he looks away I gasp for breath as I'm not made out of that many high Watt intervals!

We descend the hill, and at the bottom two cars try to pass each other (toward each other) on a narrow road. They squeak through better and make a gap. They look back, see it, and hammer. We think this is cheesy, and hammer to get back up to prove a point they don't get a second today, especially not like that.

Steve came in a couple mins after and liked the day. No dismounting, no blister pain. He's rocking his category.

We didn't see Gerry come in later but he sounds sore.

Tomorrow is supposed to be very tough. Despite the 12 min gap yesterday and no seconds yielded today, we're now 3 min ahead only. No idea really how that works. We jockeyed back and forth today and burnt some matches, so who knows.

The food at the lodge is great, we skipped the tent food. The pools are nice.

Termas de Conaripe

Good place to relax post ride.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

TransAndes Day 3 - Huilo Huilo to Termas de Conaripe

Nice dinner last night and a good sleep in the cabin helped - plus a shaded, lower percent grade climb to ease us into the biggest climbing day yet at 2,496m.

After the first climb section, we dropped down a steep eroded cut that had a lot of traffic to a beach of a pristine lake with a volcano in the background. Beauty. From there it was a pretty serious hike, motivated by our competition teams in sight. We passed both and kept moving as fast as we could. Finally got to a long fast gravel descent, with the first aid station about 12k of mountains past where it was suggested to be - so felt a bit dry and hungry by then. We got going quick, but both other mixed teams caught us.

Climbed hard on a La Ruta last day special type climb. Some guy's Garmin registered over 100F apparently, I just sweat like a madman. Trish was a couple meters behind the whole way, until one time I shoulder checked and she was taking a walking break. We regrouped with a little bike double push, a gel, and we were off again with one team behind and one in front, both pushing like mad. I drank a whole bottle on that climb, then went to switch my other bottle from my pocket and... realized I left it at the feed zone after oiling chains. Oops. Not a good spot to go dry. Trish had a second bottle, and from here to aid 2 was net down, had an awesome "dirt jump" track, then gravel road.

The descent was awesome. I came really close to hitting two cows, but other than that it was just jumps and soft dust. At the bottom we hooked left on a path, and I heard crazy sounds in the bush and the bush rustling, then a pig burst out from the left and sprinted in front of me. Relieved, I just chased along, but it would do the smart thing and turn off the trail. Finally it stopped, did a 180, and came right back at/past me, and went back to Trish. Funny little guy was probably having more excitement than usual.

Road to CP2 was nice, fast and fun. We then looped back on some single track along the river that was all smiles... which evaporated thereafter as the last 10k were headwind, rutted farm road climb, muck crossings, barbed wire, overgrown bushes, logs, rocks, and everything that made momentum for more than 25m at a time impossible. Got a quick descent to the Termas de Conaripe. Nice spot. Good food. Lots of muffin tops being tanned and spa'd at this place.

Steve didn't find the hiking compatible with his blister. Gerry survived just ahead of cutoff at aid 2, and stopped taking pictures and hurried more after.

Looks like they rejigged times again last night from what I saw yesterday, whatever, next few days will sort it out. Aside from mechanicals messing it up perhaps, it's been the same order every day.

I felt good today and could climb with Trish; then the flats and headwinds felt just fine too.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

TransAndes Day 2 - addendum

The wrong turn appears to have been corrected in times, with organizers slotting people randomly into times that fit yesterdays order of results. Trish and I were eating lunch when the Chilean mixed teams came in, but one is 30 seconds behind us today and one is like 5 minutes ahead. This worked out well for Steve on the other hand who holds second still in his grouping.

The "hive"

Has a river going through it, a waterfall that lands in a pond that has a see through bottom and is 15' off the ground below.

Cervezeria

The Huilo Huilo cervezeria brews a good product that impressed the whole crew.

Peregrine

There's not really paths, all the hotel and other buildings are built off the ground and with paths like +15's joining them, which allowed me to get close to this bird.

TransAndes Day 2 - Huilo Huilo to Huilo Huilo

We chowed on massive amounts of delicious pizza at the local brewery yesterday and watched more dancing and folk music. All good, except my icebreaker sweater on the back of my chair went missing. Hoping someone picked it up and realizes its not theirs, only long sleeve I have here and if it's cold tenting, I'll need it. Bugger, especially after my prescription Oakley sunglasses stress cracked across both lenses, presumably temp related, as both of them were done as tight as possible holding the lens in place from the optometrist so it probably put undue stress on the lens.

Had a great sleep. Slept in, and did breakfast in the cabin instead of at the breakfast tent. Pickings were a bit slim, but better use of morning time.

Start temperature was nice, Trish and I seeded well, then it was off to straight climbing. Same climbing today as yesterday but 30km less distance (I prefer having some road miles). Big first climb, "small" second, middle last.

First climb was crowded, some guy toppled over and fell into my front wheel with his hands which didn't work really great. As it went on Trish and I got to some open space and did our thing. Did a little descent on singletrack to move away from the crowd (actually, knowing after we really pulled away as it sounds like some people missed a turn after us - I've found the course markings here to be excellent).

Pulled into the base of the big climb on our own which was perfect - it was a washed out old logging road or something, and with the giant erosion rut had only one narrow rideable line. Trish just spun away, and my double caffeine gel kept me close all the way up. Perfect that with only one line, teams who pushed couldn't do pushing.

Once the climb crested, there were a few k's of descent and then lots of hike a bike climb. Eventually that wore me out, Trish gapped ahead. I caught up at a feedzone on the way down, then chowed down on potatoes, then caught Trish and gave her a bottle on the descent. Next climb was hot, steep. Trish passed a bunch of guys walking by just spinning along like a sewing machine. It was fun to watch from 20m behind... then 30m... then it's apparent that on 15%+ logging cut roads that we aren't quite the same power to weight ratio. Maybe cause I weigh 50lb more?

Today's let's be a solid team motto: "till death do us part"*

*except for super steep logging roads that go on for more than 40 minutes.

Passed the jittery cows at the top, then tried to rail the descent to catch back up. That worked well on the next flat section, then the final climb kicked off with a straight up the mountain cut line that just kept getting steeper. I did my last caffeine gel and stayed with Trish for about half, then kept her in sight for the rest a turn or so ahead, meeting back up at the feedzone on the descent. Fun rip down a fast road, then the same singletrack/river crossing/singletrack finish as yesterday. On the flats I get the joy of breathing a bit less hard and picking the lines.

I think it's official that we're different but haven't slowed each other down. I was timing some of the climb corners and figure at max we go 60-90 seconds apart. We don't know results but think we had a good day.

Steve had a good day but did take a 4k climbing detour just cause his legs felt legendary (or something like that - must have been the massage). We haven't seen Gerry yet other than Steve passed him out on course.

The interior of the hotel here is crazy cool, the whole thing is concentric circles, kinda feels bee hive like. Only building I've been in with same shape was Guggenheim. The smaller ones on the sides feel like hobbit houses. It's like being in another world. It's relaxing with all the organic shapes and natural materials.

Legs

My legs feel as dead as this dude.

Monday, 23 January 2012

TransAndes Day 1 - Pangupuilli to Huilo Huilo

Today had a lot of awesomeness. Trish's awesomeness was on par with Craig and Shawn's awesome fest at BCBR a few years back. The course was great and had a few good tries at technical layered in. Weather was overcast which was great, just a few sprinkles at end. Our accomodations are wonderful.

We started at the back and eased ourselves into it. After first few climbs it sorted out and we were near people our speed. Some intenso guy wanted a very serious road paceline, probably too serious for in the neutral zone (first 8k or 10% roughly were neutral). Passed on that.

Once the climbing started, it was just Trish passing people and me hoping the bungee wouldn't snap. Mostly gravel roads, farm areas, around the lake, etc. Really nice country side. It's just so awesome being here, pedalling away, through such a beauty area.

Today's first big climb was good for about half, then the heat and Trish's pace got to me. I spun it out in first gear as second kept skipping. We figured I'd make up the gap on the 10+km of descent. I also then stopped to pick some grass and crud out of my cogs cause the skipping sucked. Had Trish in sight at the top, so stopped and had a full pack of gummies before heading down.

Downhills were grass and overgrown cutlines on the mountain, pretty easy. Passed a bunch, upset one who thought I passed too close, but I thought a passing on the right, taking the ass line and leaving the clear path plus a couple meters in between were pretty fine. Whatever.

Got onto the flat road bit which was nice respite for me (Trish and I have opposite preferences). A guy from Vancouver came up behind us and went by pretty quick, Trish said she was game to stay on. We did, then Chris Carmichael and Rebecca Rausch blasted by with some fast pulls. We came up to the next hill and Trish just picked up the tempo till next aid station. We did a fast stop with faces full of bananas and potatoes that needed to fuel us up the last big climb.

I set pace on the road; when it turned up Trish took over. The last 5k were flat and technical, so for the last climb I just told myself I didn't care how I felt, I was going to hold Trish's wheel no matter what. In actuality, we just leap frogged back and forth as the grade changed on the climb - it worked great.

Technical bit at the end was funny. Whole row of people dismounted for a rocky bit that was a bit like some of the choppy sections of the TransCanada trail by Quaite area. We motored through undeterred.

River crossing was fun, water was nice. Some slippery wet old collapsed bridge on another one we walked was deadly slippery, I accidentally skiied a bit of it. Yikes.

We pulled up the last climb both cramping equally about 30 seconds behind another mixed couple. Probably around 5h even. For not riding for months very long/seriously, I think we both felt pretty good. Chowed down a few bananas then went to find our cabin Juan helped rent for us. Didn't have our bags, cold and wet. Trish got a hot shower and snuck into a bed. I played boyscout trying to light the stove with damp cardboard and wood; did finally get it going. I got a few minutes of warm shower before it went ice, right when I was soapy. So I bailed and sat by the fire, hoping more hot water would happen. Cindy went looking for Steve and Gerry, while I lounged Burt Reynolds style by the fire with a towel trying to warm up. Eventually just mixed a kettle of boiling water in the tub and did that.

Sounds like Steve had a reasonably good day at around 5:15, and Gerry came in a bit later having a bit of a tougher day (Ger's mat and sleeping bag were in the bag that went missing, so he slept mat-less with lots of clothes on in his tent last night - he get's the softest bed tonight!). Most importantly, we're all in now, and laughing, stories and massaging ensue.

Only one guy asked how much "my wife" trained to get that fast today - funny. Another German? sounding guy just blurted out a short sentence in his language, finished by "wow" as Trish went by on a hill.

The accommodations are cool. This Huilo Huilo place is really neat, has like a tree house hotel thing. We're in a cabin built free form, really neat raw log techniques, probably not a lot of building code. Craig and Jon this is the best woodwork feature shot the little blackberry would do.

TransAndes day 0 - Panguipulli

We finally had all of our luggage arrive, other than a bag Ger forgot in customs. Steve almost didn't get his bike - the airport said they didn't have it - but the friendly counter staff got tired of lugging bikes out and just told me to come back and get mine (it travelled naked with the wheel bungeed to the side until Santiago where they made me to that plastic wrapping tape they sell). When I was behind the counter I found Steve's bike. Double bonus.

Drive out of Temuco was nice. Pretty warm in Panguipulli. Worrying when some white guy says he just spent 2m in Mexico, then got burnt on his first ride here earlier this week. It's nice they give big hats. Food everywhere is natural and excellent, every time I come to this continent its a reminder that our foods taste so much more processed.

Bikes went together easy, did a little half hour spin, then settled in for people watching before dinner. Lots of muffin tops on the local chicas, I think the pastries everywhere on offer and the lack of sports catch up.

Dinner was good. They give you mess kits to keep the whole week, and wine at dinner.

After dinner the perro's were out everywhere for scaps. Pretty friendly. Then they had traditional Chilean music and dancing. It was actually really nice. First was cowboy-ish type, then it just got more sensual. Mapuche indian dancing that was pretty much a war and princess story with a very worthy looking princess. Then they went to Arapa nui dances from easter island with sort of like Hawaiian grass skirt and coconut styles but instead both tops and bottoms were bird feathers. That got a little saucier too. Finally it was floral print barely there stuff with the dudes in loin cloths. Too bad Ger and Steve drank beer instead of taking in the show.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Temuco

Half the flight's luggage didn't arrive.

Chile!

Jekyll and Hyde

Our flight from Toronto to Santiago was about 90 min late departing, so we got some extra seat time once we boarded and just sat at the gate.

In an ideal world, I'd recall nothing of the flight other than sleep. In reality, this personable, cherubic little Chilean girl pulled a Jekyll and Hyde and became a night time Hellion just 8 feet away, shreiking all night. Once breakfast came, she was back to cute bundle of joy in her white onesy.

I'm guessing Steve and Ger up in first class were out of earshot.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mckee!

Reunion. Trish, Gerry, Steve, Mckee, Cindy, Erik for brews in Toronto!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Obligatory...

Sh*t eating grin pictures.   Thank you Island Lake!















































































Canada/Chile weather trade

I’m gonna call this a good trade at this time of year!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

It's deep

Island Lake is getting snow. It's great right now, and still snowing. Spin classes have freed my legs from burn; it's amazing. First run I just launched in with some speed off the cat track and was just so pumped and focused to hit every turn to soak it all up. Skiing more this year has the legs in better shape, and no holding back out here. Found myself airborne, looked down, and thought this is just one of those days where you stomp every landing.

Friday, 13 January 2012

So good

There's something magic in being transported to a special place by snowmobile, watching All.I.can, drinking Kokanee, watching the snowflakes fall, and being equipped with some flash swag Oakley goggles that just can't be beat.




Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunshine, or lack thereof

Shawn, Cindy and I decided for a Sunshine ski day with Matt and Jenn Joss. Also bumped into Nic Christofferson. Fun times. Nice temps, best snow I've had this year, best company and most fun. Grey out, but saw terrain relief on all but say a quarter of one run in morning, one in aft.

After a first run ledge drop on Standish that got me inverted and intimate with the snow that was Shawn's first witness of my lack of skill, we settled into a few runs of keeping to the fall line on Standish face. I'm impressed - Bunnin has never mentioned much of his snow sporting, but he's as slick as his hipster style, and flows *almost* as good as he does on a 'cross bike. It's like his youth in that flat postage stamp province was all a cover up. Cindy asked to join on the steeps in a display of confidence. Good stuff.

Few runs on Wawa, then a tour up Teepee Town to scout it, but into the lodge for lunch. Footlong gourmet hotdog with chili. Can't beat that. Plus we mixed blue and purple Gatorade to make Blurple.

Back over to Teepee town to hit the Shoulder, probably been 5 years since I was there. Came around to the traverse on the cliff and there's a guy just above me. He turns around says I can go first, he's waiting. I look up and it's VADIM the DREAM! We spent most of university right in that very spot together. Heavenly. We hooked far skiers right for some fresh turns he had scouted, then had to hike out a bit. Seeing him bounce turns effortlessly left and right was like a decade flashback; it made me so happy.

Did one on Goat's eye, and true to Vadim's old saying, was great, just the first 10 turns had rocks.

After that stayed down low, watched some kid fall off the lift like 2m after loading, which caused a 15 min stop and lots of paramedics standing around.

Finished on part of the back door I hadn't done before, more trees and less open. All in a super day.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Icy saturday

Jon, Craig, Craig, Kate, Graham, Ceasar, Shawn and I met at Cadence for some winter adventure.  This week the warm temperatures really helped ice everything up, right from the single track in Bowness and throughout the day.

I felt perhaps my yin and yang was in balance in '12 and put it to the test with the 40m long skinny in Tuscany.  Fun!

From there we battled headwinds until making it to Big Hill Springs, then figured conditions were good enough to ride through the valley to Cochrane.  They were firm - ice cobbles.  Definitely the group dispersed a bit based on who's ridden slick stuff a lot before.  Since I was weak all morning, I was happy to be there to offset lack of Watts with a little extra technical.  The single track provided lots of adventure with dry loamy turns or hero snow turns urging you to speed up, followed by glaze ice turns.

The comedic highlight of the day was at a cafe I didn't previously know about - Guys' Cafe and Bakery. Delicious stuff, definitely a wide selection.  Could be my new favourite stop there.  Jon didn't know what to get, and they were ready for him... see bottom of menu.


So as it turns out, this sandwich contains every meat and every cheese and every veggie.  Upon ordering it, the cashier upped the ante.  If you eat that sandwich and a bowl of soup, everyone at your table gets a free pastry.  Jon is the perfect guy for this!  It's large.  Jon did some warmup stretches.

Of course Jon is a success story in many rights.  This was no different.  We shared the spoils!

From there, we headed up the hill, but at a sub tempo pace.  We hit the new trails along the river, which ridiculously end about 5km before Bowness with a bunch of no trespassing signs when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Ridiculous.  It's like having the Trans Canada highway end at Scott Lake Hill with a sign just saying it's reserve land from thereon and tough luck if you want to get to the mountains.

We made our way on a side path for a bit, then it was slow going.  Faster route?  Ride the perfectly slick, glaze black ice of the reservoir by Bearspaw.  The warmth this week made it mirror like.  Trick is to get going, go fast, and don't turn or brake.  There's a few mini bumps from melting snowmobile tracks that are tricky, but rest is easy.  Fast is best, that way if you fall it's a glancing blow rather than straight down.  So fun. 

Talk about a multi skill day overall...  6h of ride time for me.  




Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Similar, but different

Hooper's year end 2011 data was interesting, partially due to the data, but partially due to the behavioural revelation.

Energy industry financial people.  Check.
Adult aerobic athletes.  Check.
Equals data trackers?  Check.
Not too dissimilar in annual activity?  Check.

I should probably try to nudge 2012 above 500 hours - those were some of the best years I've had.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Oregon

If I chose to relocate to Oregon, I'd have to bring this outfit.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Schweitzer, Sandpoint

Sandpoint is nice, town will be even more quaint when the highway bypass is done. Rustic. Schweitzer ski area is great, small town real ski hill feel. Steep. Uncrowded. Nordic skiing, racing Friday nights for anyone who wants to go fast; terrain park programs. Lots of kids programs. Lots of tele skiers. Lots of people saying hi to each other by name on the hill and complaining about the crowds (2 minute lift lines for about 2 hours of the day). Fire outside back lodge on the snow. Professional lifties with personality, not just Aussie imports. Still double lifts without safety bars that come down, even in the litigious ol' USA. The area appears to be very strong for Subaru sales and repairs well into a given car's 20th year, as well as a hearty population of Toyota Tacoma's on the road, date of manufacture anything from 1980 to present. Dogs. Microbrews. Flannel. Beards.