Intro: EWS 2016 Round One - Chile

Mar 24, 2016 at 16:40
by Matt Wragg  





It's been two years since the EWS set foot in Chile. In 2014 we landed in the fabulous playground of Nevados de Chillan, a showcase for how successful Chile is today. For 2016 we head further south to the Patagonian outcrop that is Valdivia. A ten hour drive south of Santiago, this is a very different country. There are no English language translations here to help the hopeless gringos as we stumble around the countryside. On the island of Corral where the race course is, you reach the race village by a 20 minute boat ride from the mainland. Houses cover the lower slopes, small wooden and metal cabins packed tightly together, sheltering from the ocean. The town is dominated by the pungent seafood factory that gives much of the local community their livelihood and just outside town are the remains of what was once the largest foundry in South America. It is worth keeping in mind here that the most of the bikes being raced here cost more than a year's salary for many of those who live here... Yet they are happy to welcome us to this beautiful little outpost towards the end of the world, and it makes for a completely new setting to begin a new season of racing. We're certainly a long way from Kansas here...



There is a long naval tradition here on the Chilean coast.
There is a long naval tradition here on the Chilean coast.

Image from EWS 2016 Round One - Chile article
Valdivia. Chile. Photo by Matt Wragg.

The fleet of small boats and one ferry are Corral s lifeline to the mainland. It is possible to drive round via bridges but it takes two hours while the ferry is a twenty minute hop.
The fleet of small boats and one ferry are Corral's lifeline to the mainland. It is possible to drive round via bridges, but it takes two hours, while the ferry is a twenty minute hop.

The lagoons are patrolled by huge flocks of pelicans these giant birds have something of the dinosaur about them as they skim low over the water before diving in to scoop up their prey.
The lagoons are patrolled by huge flocks of pelicans; these giant birds have something of the dinosaur about them, as they skim low over the water before diving in to scoop up their prey.

The fish market is the heart of the town of Valdivia and it s one of the placest where it s clearest that you are not at home any more.

Image from EWS 2016 Round One - Chile article
Valdivia. Chile. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Image from EWS 2016 Round One - Chile article

The fish market is the heart of the town of Valdivia and it's one of the places where it quickly becomes clear that you are not at home any more.

The fishmongers have their helpers on hand...
The fishmongers have their helpers on hand...

Well fed
Those are some well-fed sea lions.

While waiting for the action to kick off the Ibis team headed for the volcanic resort of Pucon for some bigger montain fun. Here the Gehrigs twins pin it through the loose rock and volcanic soil.
While waiting for the action to kick off, the Ibis team headed for the volcanic resort of Pucon for some bigger mountain fun. Here the Gehrig twins pin it through the loose rock and volcanic soil.

Robin Wallner used the time at Pucon to make sure his bike was running well after the long journey.
Robin Wallner used the time at Pucon to make sure his bike was running well after the long journey.

The area is not short of mountains...
The Pucon area is not short of mountains...

Gary Forrest is coming back from a spinal injury last year but is looking to be back at full strength ready for the season.
Gary Forrest is coming back from a spinal injury last year, but is looking to be back at full strength ready for the season.

Don t you wish your team bonding days looked like this
Don't you wish your team bonding days looked like this?

One last push for one last run before the sun dips below the horizon.
One last push for one last run before the sun dips below the horizon.

And yeah the views here in Chile...
And yeah, the views here in Chile...

The sun sets on a weekend break before it is time to head back to Valdivia for the serious business to begin.
The sun sets on a weekend break before it's time to head back to Valdivia for the serious business to begin.

To reach the race village in time you need to catch the 8am boat from town - the golden hour express which means you can watch the sun rise over the water as you head to Corral.
To reach the race village in time you need to catch the 8am boat from town - the golden hour express, which means you can watch the sun rise over the water as you head to Corral.

Valdivia. Chile. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Not a bad view for a morning commute.

El jefe aboard on of the smaller ferries that dart between across the fjords here.
El jefe aboard one of the smaller ferries that dart between the fjords here.

Welcome to Corral
Welcome to Corral.

On an island like Corral many of the locals can t afford trucks for work so the hard graft is picked up by the cows.
On an island like Corral many of the locals can't afford trucks for work, so the hard graft is picked up by the cows.

That work can even include pulling logs from the forest down to the houses below.
That work can even include pulling logs from the forest down to the houses below.

Cows pulling the logs down the trails makes for interesting riding conditions - especially if it rains. This rut was so slick that you could turn your front wheel through 90 degrees and the bike s speed would not change...
Cows pulling the logs down the trails makes for interesting riding conditions - especially if it rains. This rut was so slick that you could turn your front wheel 90 degrees and the bike's speed would not change...

When it s not muddy here it s nothing but hero dirt.
When it's not muddy here, it's nothing but hero dirt.

Overnight rain made things a bit sticky for the media reecho but thankfully the forecast is for sun and dust all weekend.
Overnight rain made things a bit sticky for the media reconnaissance, but thankfully the forecast is for sun (and dust) all weekend.

EWS director Chris Ball gets his slip and slide on during the first media recce of the 2016 season.
EWS director, Chris Ball, gets his slip and slide on during the first media recon of the 2016 season.

Matt Wragg drops into the steep chute that makes up the bottom of stage 2.
Matt Wragg drops into the steep chute that makes up the bottom of stage two.

As riders reach the bottom of stage two they will be greeted with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
As riders reach the bottom of stage two they will be greeted with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Death to course cutters. Everything on the side of the track is sharp and will make you bleed.
Death to course cutters. Everything on the side of the track is sharp and will make you bleed.

On the Pacific side of the island the coastal road looks like a driving road to die for.
On the Pacific side of the island, the coastal road looks like a driving road to die for.

Epic Sunsets from the press room
Epic sunsets from the press room

The sun sets over Corral - tomorrow we bring you all the action from practice.
The sun sets over Corral - tomorrow we bring you all the action from practice.


Author Info:
mattwragg avatar

Member since Oct 29, 2006
753 articles

27 Comments
  • 89 1
 While we may not get live video feed for all the EWS rounds, I feel like the photo epic's really do make up for it. Stoked for this season's racing.
  • 74 2
 SO much better than reading about 12-speed drivetrains. Amazing snaps and storyline!
  • 36 1
 Chile is beautiful!
  • 7 0
 Couldn't agree more.
  • 4 0
 Nice photos too
  • 3 0
 Sea Lion is a pet, ... now that's chill
  • 20 0
 man pinkbike's photographers stepped up their game....again
  • 20 3
 I wonder what the people of Corral think of Sram's 12 speed drivetrain.
  • 6 0
 I heard 90% of the town has already started saving up
  • 4 0
 I think you mean 500%
  • 10 0
 Matt's photo is always superb! covering the city, surrounding, natural and the race track in well balanced... some wide shot are definitely top wallpaper quality
  • 3 0
 Agreed, favourited the shot of the volcano, epic
  • 10 0
 I live in pucon, come and check it out, it's pretty f*cking rad!!
  • 6 1
 Well I'm not (yet) interested in Enduro racing, but the pics and information about the country and landscape are very interesting!

"It is worth keeping in mind here that the most of the bikes being raced here cost more than a year's salary for many of those who live here"
With the current price trend, that can be true for Europe and North America in 2 years too.
  • 4 0
 Seeing the photo of matt wrag in there makes me think it would be kinda neat to see personal bike check of the writers at pinkbike. I mean they try pretty much everything on the market so they have insanely well informed decisions when it comes to choosing bikes and kit.
  • 4 0
 Absolutely fantastic photos, and having lived there I find it extremely cool that the country is getting so much coverage for mtb.
  • 4 0
 yes yes yes yes yes yes
  • 2 0
 Corral (the town near Valdivia at least) is not on an island... Just across the bay.
  • 2 0
 The sunsets, wow _ sublime.
  • 1 0
 You guys have some nice shots in this one!!
  • 1 0
 I suspect we are seeing oxen rather than cows.
  • 1 0
 Amazing photos! What a great place. Hows the ceviche?
  • 4 4
 they are not sea lions...but sea pigs
  • 1 0
 a nice lunch for the great whites in chilenian waters
  • 1 0
 sea dogs
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