Saturday, August 14, 2010

Week 9 Patagonia – Sunshine coming out our ears

A sign mourns the burning of a tree in flora loving Coihaique
Translation: What was the reason for this sacrifice?

An increasingly familiar glowing orb (found only in the sky) again came to the party this week with some fantastically balmy days. Some even pushing the thermometric scale into the twenties, a hitherto unheralded level of warmth in our small part of Patagonia.

Our weekend trip to Coihaique was a ball. On the hour and a half drive from the lodge more breathtaking views flashed past in the van windows, punctuated by river crossings and wayward cows. On arrival we stocked up on empanadas at the supermarket and checked into our cabano, a place which roaches could easily call home sweet we’re the place not so freaking cold.

In a drunken dare Jack trys to lick his elbow, Ollie watches in amazement
Photo John Butler

A round of heavy drinking ensued, several members of our crew pulled back from the brink of  rowdiness by a good old fashioned pull-up competition. On hitting the bars we we’re turned away at first sight by some fearful looking bouncers. In a display of good old fashioned racism entry was denied on the basis of the rowdy behaviour of some other trail building kiwis, who legend  told had bottled a bouncer. The bouncer's position was entirely understandable, as some of the other crews obviously hadn’t been a model of kiwi friendliness. Perhaps their personas had been warped another classic kiwi trait; binge drinking.

Thankfully, Oscar a builder at the lodge took pity on our plight and took us to a groovy salsa joint called Burlin, where we proceeded to dance the night away. Questionable gringo dancing skills were more than compensated for with enthusiasm, and some of the crew stretched the night into the next day with plenty of random stories involving stray canines, hotdogs and emos.

Refreshed by a weekend of good times, the week of trail building passed in a flash. We progressed well with a second climb below the gaucho trail, carving out almost 800m of prime singletrack from the soft loam soil.

Jack and Jake had been putting the finishing touches to the downhill trail we built last week, erecting a 5 m wall ride to add some pizazz to the final turn. We’ve called the trail ‘Get some!’ in homage to a trigger happy soldier in Kubrick’s Vietnam masterpiece ‘Full Metal Jacket'. The whole crew spent a lunchtime sessioning the wall, with DJer John boosting so high off the end that he landed in a bush above the landing. With ‘Get Some!’ complete, all that is left are some tweaks and plenty of laps to ride it in, not to much of a stretch given the sheer fun factor of this track.

Ollie boosting the wall ride at the end of 'Get some!'
Photo Emil de Vries

Track building shifted back up the hill for the last part of the week, with recently melted snow finally making it possible to ride up to the traverse where we were working. Snow had given the track a working over with smashed bridges and collapsed benches giving plenty of scope for work.

A bridge destroyed by a swollen stream.
Beams will be resused for a bridge to traverse a tricky pinch.

We’ve also taken delivery of a bangin’ (literally) petrol rock hammer dubbed the Cobra that has allowed us to unleash some indiscriminate justice on any rocks who dare challenge our trail building prowess. It can even be switched to drill mode to allow rock bolts to be installed, or rocks to be split with the aid of wedges.

Matt gets medieval with the rock drill

A new crew of gringo trackbuilders is due to arrive tomorrow, so we’ll be doing our best to show them the ropes and ease them into the daily slog. It seems like only yesterday we were in their position with 3 months of riding and digging ahead of us. I’ll be sure to show them all the great trails they can ride on the way to and from work and with the turn towards spring they’ll no doubt be spoilt with plenty of the good warm stuff.

Mountain Pedaler out...

No comments: