The plane is taking off form Geneva, I am leaving my Aravis's snow covered mountain and La Clusaz in the middle of the spliboarding season for a way hotter land. We are in february and I go racing the Andes Pacifico in Santiago. In the program I will be joined by the film crew from FastFokus after the race to go filming in the south. The compagny is doing a 10 episode series about mountain biking and I am doing the artist-traveller chapter! I thought Chile could be the perfect stage for a exploration and getting different image ... So I take my sketch book, my Rocky Mountain Altitude and go!
First things first, I have to survive the Andes Pacifico, that race has a strong reputation. It is a four day race, the terrain is slippery and steep and it is called 'Anti-grip.' But it is also know for its technical and physical difficulties.
I join the organiser crew from Montenbaik in Santiago, everything is getting together and I get to know a lot of riders little by little after some ride session or barbecue, they come from the US, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Chile, but also France. We all got in the pick-up truck and headed to Antawaya. A camp in a peaceful valley near by a river. The beer is cold and the food is typical.
The race is starting soon, the two first day are taking place in the mountains above Santiago. The landscape is unique. Big mountain, glacier and dust. We ride some crazy trails, steep and dusty. Finding our way trough the cactus and the bushes. It is rough and long, but I am having a lot of fun. I took me two days to feel good on the bike due to a recent injury but finally on day three I start to let my brakes go and got more flowy. Days three and four are close to the coast, the terrain is still very different for me as there are almost no rocks, but trees, bushes and awesome dirt. Slippery and fun. Finally on day four we get to the coast and the last stage just get us all to the beach to celebrate this moment of joy and happiness. All stoked to finish this beautiful adventure and amazing race. The party gets on and I jump in the water to surf some waves and to enjoy the sunset from a surfboard. We celebrate the winners before a last barbecue.Chapter Two – Filming an adventure
Back from the race and the beach of Matanzas I meet FastFokus in Santiago. The film crew is making a video series about the world of mountain biking and I have the honour to represent adventure mountain biking. This idea of a trip in Chile came from our first meeting in Eurobike in August, they wanted to make a portrait in three dimension with mountain biking, surf and painting. I didn't know much about Chile so we decided that it would be the perfect set for a adventure, and that's how we ended on the road of Chile.
After two days in Santiago, we have some image of riding and of the city, we headed south to Pichilemu Punta de Lobos, the infamous wave. The conditions were looking good and I knew the place from a previous surf trip in Chile. During a few days we were looking for the best conditions but also we learned how to work together, as it is not always easy to make everything together. But little by little the teamwork was good and we started to build this episode with passion.
One morning the waves were good, the fog was going away. I show to the crew the way to get in the water and explain them a lot about the wave before I got in the water. The tension was strong and at the end even Damien and Pierre were nervous for me! But I made the entry at the point and managed to catch a few cool waves. It was a cool moment, the ocean in Chile is strong and life in the Pacific is beautiful. Everybody was having a great time. I was also painting and hanging around, that's how I met a old friend living in Punta de Lobos. Good time full of memories. The camera was full and we loaded our van to hit the road again, pointing to the south in direction of Pucon. Straight road all day, small van, three in the front and no music, we had to deserve the beauty of Pucon and lake district! This place is really nice and inspiring, the film crew was really happy that I choose that destination. We took a few days to scout the different trails around the Villarrica volcano and thanks to the help of the company Bike Pucon, we had a good idea of the potential.
For five days we were there going all around to find and film the best views, the riding in the area is awesome, it is a good mix and sandy terrain with rocks and dirt. The trails are fun and the landscape is beautiful, everywhere we have been was a new discovery and a new view to film. My best souvenir from that adventure, is this very long day when we went to the Pichillancahue Glacier by night. It was tough and long, the crew was carrying the heavy filming equipment, but as the sun was rising we had a incredible view on the Villarrica volcano and all the mountains and volcano around. This place is really powerful and fascinating. Riding on the glacier was crazy and we made amazing footage of it, then coming down on this varied terrain. The trail cross the high part with black sand and rocks, then down it travels trough the Araucania forest. This forest is unique and beautiful, it was a very special time to shoot it. We filmed a lot and finally got back to the car to heat to a parilla restaurant and finish the day with another Chilean speciality!
This filming adventure was ending, we had everything we needed for the portrait and witness the experience in Chile, so on the road back to Santiago we stop by Mantanzas to relax and enjoy the ocean one last time. Good time for a last Pisco sour and a good piece of meat after a surf session. The next day we are in Santiago airport, it is time to split and say goodbye. FastFokus crew is going back to France and then to another filming location and I am going to Peru for one month with my bike, but this is another story! This experience was really good and I learned a lot, Chile is definitely a bike destination and has so much to offer. Gracias Chile! Photos
: Gary Perkin - Fastfokus
Thanks to Montenbaik and bikepucon for your help during the trip.
Thanks to my partners Mavic, IONbike, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Urge Bike, Posca, and Clifbar