Articles tagged with "chile"

Cerro San Cristóbal – the final descent

In November I’d set the 5th fastest time on Strava for the descent from Antilén to Pedro de Valdivia. I wanted the fastest time but in December I’d crashed heavily while on course to set it. After that, I had a few rides where I was way slower around the corners before recovering my confidence, and eventually I managed to set some times within a second or two of my best.

On January 20th, I was emigrating from Chile, and in the runup to that I was desperately trying to at least break my personal best. On January 18th things had been going well until a car pulled out in front of me and forced me to slow down. January 19th felt like a good one but at Mapulemu I’d collided with a bird which didn’t get out of my way in time. And I thought that was the last chance gone, as the removal company was supposed to come that day to take my stuff. Luckily, they screwed up and had the wrong date. They couldn’t come until 20th, which caused all sorts of chaos and stress, but at least it meant I had one final chance at the record. I was on a mission, determined to give it everything, and to have no possible regret about not trying hard enough.

I set off at 7.30am, wanting the roads to be quiet. I had a great warmup ride up Bicentenario to La Piramide, and I was feeling fantastic as I climbed up to Antilén. I pushed hard for the last bit of the climb and carried a lot of speed over the brow of the hill. It was a beautiful morning, perfect for riding. I kept my speed high down towards Mapulemu, not dropping below 30mph. I took Mapulemu better than ever before and avoiding crashing this time. At the lower hairpins, there was no traffic and no other cyclists so I took wide lines and carried tonnes of speed through. I was sure I was on for the record.

Right at the exit, they were watering the grass and there was a slick of water across the road. I was too into what I was doing to take much notice and powered across it. The tarmac stops at that point and there are cobbles for a few metres before the gate. I shot across the water and onto the cobbles at well over 30mph, and as I braked and turned for the exit, I lost it.

My first crash came as quite a surprise for me but this one didn’t. I was very calm as I flew towards the tarmac, although I was desperately wishing I could turn the clock back just a few seconds and avoid what I knew was coming. I hit my head quite hard and scraped horribly along the cobbles, coming to a stop about 10m from where I’d come off. My ears were ringing, I was covered in blood and it took me a few seconds to start getting up.

It was worse than my first crash but after a few minutes I was OK to ride home. I set off, blood dripping from my hand. I couldn’t bring myself to look at it until I got home but it turned out I’d sliced a chunk of skin off the top of my finger. I’d scraped myself all up my right arm, and my right ankle was also bleeding quite badly.

But the worst damage was to my phone. It had been in my pocket but it was deeply scratched all over, and to my horror it wouldn’t turn on. I tried and tried but it was dead. I’d killed it. My strava data was in it and would never come out. I will never know if I actually set a record.

Towards La Leonera

Towards La Leonera

Cerro La Parva

Cerro La Parva



On Christmas Day I’d tried to cycled to Farellones, but given up after starting to get cramp due to dehydration on a savagely hot day. On New Year’s Day I tried again.

Again I planned to leave extremely early, and again I failed, but I failed a little bit less badly and I was on the road at 8.15am. And whereas last week I’d had the feeling quite early on in the ride that I might not make it, this week I felt right from the start that it was going to go well. It was strange to cycle the same route again so soon and a lot of the way to Corral Quemado felt pretty boring, but much easier than it had last week. Then, I had expected there to be lots of cyclists and there were almost none; this week I thought there would not be many and there were quite a few.

I got to Corral Quemado a bit more quickly than I had done last week. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear but still cool by 10am when I got there. So now the hard work started, and it was awesome. I powered up the first 8 curves, as last week, then found the section to curve 9 far easier and powered up the next 6 as well. Then began the long slow drag up to curve 15, which was way easier than last week, with no dehydration or cramp to contend with. I got to Yerba Loca at curve 15 and stopped to fill up my water bottles. There were a couple of other cyclists there, and some people out for a new year drive. “Tired?”, one of them asked me. “Nope”, I said. “Arrogant jerk”, he probably thought. But it was true. I didn’t feel at all tired and I knew I was going to make it to the top.

I refilled my water bottles and headed on. Things got tougher, with fewer hairpins and more long harsh gradients. And here there were lots of huge and vicious flies, which kept on biting me. I kept on wondering why I had a sudden sharp pain in my knuckles, only to look down and see another fat fly biting me through my gloves. But they were easy to deal with, unable to disengage before I swatted them. I must have killed hundreds.

After a long slow ride up with few hairpins, I reached curve 26, two miles from Farellones. I was getting slow at this point, tired but really loving the climb. 40 minutes after curve 26, I got to Farellones.

I had some lunch and then headed down. It had taken me 4h45m to get from my house to Farellones, and it took me 1h45m to get back. 3200m of climbing was a great way to start 2016.

Strava log


Sadly the camera’s memory card filled up and the video stops at turn 28

Curva 15 en el camino a Farellones

Curva 15 en el camino a Farellones

On Christmas Day, I decided to cycle to Farellones, a ski resort outside Santiago. The road climbs slowly from around 600m above sea level in Santiago to 1350m above sea level at Corral Quemado, and then things get serious – 40 hairpins in 10 miles to go from 1350m to 2400m up.

My idea was to leave at 6am. El Niño had given us a way worse summer than usual and there had been lots of cool cloudy days where there is normally unbroken sunshine for months. But it was a proper summer day today, and if I left too late it would be much too hot for a serious uphill cycle. But… I got up at 6am, and thought I would sleep for just a few more minutes, and woke up at 9am. Then I needed to make some adjustments to the bike, and prepare some food and drink, and I didn’t manage to leave until 11am.

It was warm already. The streets were deserted, which made the ride out to the start of the road to Farellones pretty relaxing, but early on in the ride I knew I’d made a mistake by leaving so late. Even by the time I got to Mallsport, 7 miles from my house and about 200m up, I was feeling pretty thirsty and pretty tired.

The start of the road to Farellones is pretty easy, gently rising for a few miles. The first real test was just after Puente Ñilhue, where I’d set out to climb Provincia in July 2014 and October 2016. Here, the road climbed steeply for a few hundred metres, and I had to drop down quite a few gears. Generally the gradients were not savage but I just didn’t feel that great. After about an hour and three quarters, I stopped for a break and to check how far it was to the start of the hairpins. I found that I was only a mile away, and psyched myself up for the real work.

I reached the hairpins. By now it was really hot but at first I felt great. The hairpins were easy – just a short sharp climb, then an easy flat bit until the next one. I powered through 8 of them with no problem. But after that it got tougher, with a long slow steep climb until curve 9. By now, all my water was disgustingly warm and I didn’t have much left. I began to doubt I’d make it.

I kept on pushing. By curve 14 I was suffering, and beginning to cramp a bit. I knew there was water at curve 15, but there’s a huge gap between curves 14 and 15, where the road just climbs relentlessly, at a gradient of about 7.5 per cent. About half way along it, I decided I was going to have to call it a day. I was getting too dehydrated to carry on, and I really didn’t want to get crippled by cramp out here. So I reluctantly turned around and headed home.

The petrol station at the start of the Farellones road was pretty much the only thing open in Santiago. I was incredibly glad it was because I had long since run out of water by the time I got there, and the last bits in my bottle had actually been hot. I bought a lot of liquid, and the last half hour back home was a lot more fun than the descent up until that point.

It was a shame not to have got further but I knew I’d left too late to make it. 41.1 miles and 2000m of climbing was still an OK effort, I thought.

Strava log