Just when I thought that after exploring Argentina and Chile for seven years, I had seen most everything, I was thrown into a place where steam explodes from the earth and perfect single track lays out below, a place that has a mountain bike scene that is over flowing with energy and momentum, NICE!!
Chile is such a LONG country that it encompasses just about every type of geographic zone and season all at once, really similar to Canada, making it a mountain biking mecca..
Matt Hunter and I had been talking about doing a trip in South America for over a year and finally it all came together. He would be in the south of Chile, at a place called Nevados De Chillan, a ski area that apparently had some amazing mountain biking.
When we got our dates set, I jumped in my 13 passenger diesel van, loaded it to the nines with my bike and camping gear and headed for the border from where I was living in Argentina to Santiago, Chile. My radiator had been giving me issues but that morning I patched it with some jb weld and it seemed good to go!
Up over the 14000 foot pass to Chile! I met Mitch Cheek from Solos Productions at the Santiago airport at 1 in the morning and we decided to make the drive to where Hunter was that same night. What was supposed to be 3 hours turned into 8 and we rolled into the mountain village of Nevados De Chillan just as the sun was coming up.
Hunter was stoked, he had been waiting for us in a pretty sweet little cabana and had been riding and scoping all the terrain for almost a week! We were ready to film!
First day on the soil, I was blown away by how rich it was..the forest was enchanting, moss hanging everywhere and a smell of soil in the air. It was exactly what Hunter was looking for for the film, very fast, smooth single track..
All the while, in the trees, you could see the steam billowing out in the air, just above treeline. On the top of the mountain was the source of the Termas, (geysers). The next morning, at sunrise we hiked our bikes up to the geysers and cooked our breakfast in the boiling steam!!! crazy, we were all pretty stoked. Eggs , "geyser style" for breakfast and then a couple thousand foot descent on perfect single track, great way to spend the morning.
By the 4th or 5th day we had shot a ton and were very happy with everything. Hunter had met some riders a few days earlier that had raved about their hometown, Concepcion, Chile and told him that he had to come and visit and ride. SO we loaded up our stack of bikes and gear into the van and began to navigate our way to the coast, where Concepcion was located.
With no real plan, everything just kept folding out in front of us. We arrived to what appeared to be the center of Concepcion, there was a big market going on so we got out and had a wander around. We didn't have a contact for the riders here, we just knew they had a Specialized store so we asked the first biker we saw if he knew where it was. He knew, but was pretty sure it was closed for the day. Just then another rider came rolling in on a bike and recognized Matt, then it was on, several others crowed around and pretty soon we had guides to lead us up to the big freeride mountain in Concepcion, where apparently the guys we were looking for were riding!
We followed the guys up the mountain and just started seeing riders everywhere..There was a scene here. We did a ton of shuttles and everyone was pretty stoked. The sun started to fall and it was time to BBQ!!
One of the guys , Aldo, owned a huge piece of Land just outside of the city. He invited us to come and stay and we would have a huge BBQ, then in the morning we would ride the trails he had built in his back yard! Perfect.
We ate so much meat that night that we were sweating meat the next morning on the trails. The crew in Concepcion was the best ever, we rode the whole next day and ate like kings the whole time we were there.
After this trip Chilean hospitality goes on my list as number one..
Thanks Nico, Aldo and family and all the other great people in Concepcion that made our trip everything it was!