San Martin De Los Andes March 1-2 Argentina !
After almost a month in Chile it’s time to move to Argentina.
Since few Year, Juanma Andreani from Enduro Meeting, teases me that I should come and visit Argentina for riding.
This year was a great opportunity and he invites me and Pauline for the first race of the first ever Enduro Championship in Argentina.
The event here in San Martin is managed by Endurance Trainer, represented by Maxi and Inès, 2 locals that want to show how good this area to ride bike is.
After traveling from Temuco to San Martin by car, we arrive in this nice touristic town surrounding by mountains and a beautiful lake. Really Stunning!
Here there are a no practice rules, so on the day before the race we went for some riding in others area and we can definitely feel that it’s real dusty and loose on smooth terrain. Perfect to ride without being scared and having fun drifting in dust powder.
On Sunday the start is set a 10 AM for 5 stages around Valle Escondidos, situated in a private area above the town. Nobody practices and we just have a map to guess what we will face today.
I start with number 1 for the first “Enlace” and 45’ climb to go at the highest point of the day. We are lucky to do it in the shade and it’s perfect to warm up before the serious thing.
I’m here to check how I feel and don’t plan to do any strategy expect giving everything I have and ride 100% to get use to the race mode before the biggest competitions later this year. Racing is the best training to be ready for this.
The beginning is quite flat and you have to sprint for 2’ on a singletrack with some little turns. Legs feel good and I can put power down, then you start going down, the sand is very loose and it’s really hard to stay clipped in and charge but I ride good and so far I’m happy. After 2’ going down, I arrive to a golf terrain and the trail starts going up, but there is tape so I keep going. After 2’ pushing my bike, I stop to see if I’m on the good trail, I see tape further but still uphill. I guess I took a wrong direction, so I turned back and met other riders who started behind me. We go back until we find the finish line and check out. There were no sign and the guy that was supposed to stay at the finish line wasn’t there as we start too early, so no way to find it full speed. First I’m really disappointed as I was riding well, but after few minutes, I become positive again, knowing that it can happen and I still have 4 stages to go.
Now I have to attack even more to try to catch up the time lost in stage 1 even if I know that 4’ is not possible, but I’ll try.
We know from the briefing that it will be long and physical, so I set a good pace in the pedaling part and try to stay smooth in the technical. No time off and standing most of the time. The physical parts are tough but the technical are fun and it’s mixed pretty well. After 8’22 of stage I cross the line and I’m Happy again with the way I rode and the trails were really fun to ride even if it was hurting.
This one comes back to the pits and we don’t know what to expect. It starts flat and I decide to sprint from the gate, but the uphill part is longer than I thought and I suffer for a while in the first part. Then it’s down again on a mix of trail and gravel road, so you can catch your breath. Unfortunately at the end there is still a long physical part with a lot of blind corner, where you lose your speed and have to make an effort to gain speed again. It feels really long and I cross the line exhausted, like a XC race. Everybody’s face is the same at the end and you can really feel pain.
A quick food and drink stop, to charge the battery and the mental and we go back again for SP4. This one is supposed to be 2’, so full Gaz. It starts flat and I sprint off the saddle to cross the field, then it drop in a tunnel of vegetation. It’s really fun to ride and you slide a lot. Unfortunately this time it was really short and after 45 seconds it’s already the finish line. I wish it would have last way longer. I think when it hurts it’s always feel longer that when you loved it…
It’s the same than Especial 3, so we know what will come. To keep a margin I try to start a bit slower and keep energy for the last part. With the mark of the 50 riders of stage 3, the track is a bit better and we can carry more speed in the corner which makes the stage easier. I ride well and have enough energy to pedal hard at the end of the stage. It still hard but I can keep the same power to the finish line, which make you feel mentally better.
Everybody is happy to finish, no we can enjoy a drink, hamburger and delicious Mamusia Ice Cream (you have to test if you come here). All the rider talk about their experience bad and good and we wait for the ceremony. Finally for the Pro they decide to remove stage 1,as most of us went wrong.
I can take the win in front of Gonzalo Serenelli (Zenith) and Sergio Antecao (Bike adventura Valdivia) from Chile. As I’m writing I don’t have all the result so please apologize for not giving more precision.
It was a good experience here, it’s the start of endure in Argentina, there is off course some things to improve, but we can feel that people love the sport and I’m sure this will grow here too.
Thanks to all the friendly volunteers and al riders I’ve met here, it’s really cool to share this with you.
A special thanks for Enduro Meeting for the invitation and Endurance trainer (Ines and Maxi) for taking care of us so good.