It is always a good time to travel to Chile and be a part of the Red Bull Cerro Abajo. This year was an extra special year for the race and I managed to track down head race organizer, Victor Heresmann to give me the low down on the race. Here is what he had to say:
2017 marks the 15th anniversary of a race that started out as a publicity stunt for a Bike magazine and then took on a life of its own, and what a life it has been. We realized it was fitting we do something special for this anniversary, but what? The answer was very simple, just improve everything
; the course, the spectator experience, the impact for the neighbors, and of course, the grin on the racers faces. And so, down that rabbit hole, we went. Boy did it take us to some weird places, from talking to the police commander into fielding undercover agents to stop drugs and booze being sold on the course, something that the neighbors were understandably very upset about, to “slightly modifying” two houses in order to check off the "riders on roof" and "through a house" items on our to-do list.
We also measured fire engines in order to be absolutely
sure our ramps wouldn’t be in the way in an eventual emergency, as wildfires were raging all over the country during the months prior to the race and put us in severe jeopardy of being shut down completely. Then we learned that the container jump feature is the lowest safe point in case of a tsunami, who knew?
For the course, we decided to go with a faster-is-better approach. We modified stairs to increase doubling of sets, took out some guard rails, increased the size of some lips here and there, and made some of the landings a lot bigger to allow for higher speed and distance. We held an undercover training session on Saturday to avoid crowds, this was very appreciated by the riders who got to familiarize themselves with the stairs and the house feature.
The features that used to be the big ones of the course were now definitely not as we had two features that spanned over 10 meters.
On race day, riders take off from inside a house into the very steep streets of the upper slopes of the Cerro Alegre. This is a course that we try to keep as similar to a dirt course as possible, with around 250m of drop and 1.8km in length, and an average speed that mimics a regular course.
We had a killer day with huge crowds and bright sun, thankfully no ambulance riders or dog incidents this year and when the dust settled, Tomas Slavik had bested the competition after coming really close years prior, second was Bernard Kerr with a huge debut here, and third was Pedro Ferreira who was a very welcome sight back on the podium. Sadly this course takes its prisoners and we had a few crack riders lose their shot at glory due to bike failures such as Bernardo Cruz and Brage Vestavik, all of them we hope will be back for another shot at the crown of Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo in 2018 when they will have to deal with not only the reigning champion but also with the previous one, Johannes Fischbach who had to sit out this time due to a bad collarbone.Results
• 1st: Tomas Slavik 00:02:48.480
• 2nd: Bernard Kerr 00:02:50.560
• 3rd: Pedro Ferreira 00:02:52.520
See you on the stairs next year! – Victor Heresmann
Words: Victor Heresmann
Photos: John Wellburn