After the coastal jungle of Chile, we crossed the Andes for round two this week. Lying on the Northern side of Patagonia, close to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, Cerro Catedral was our destination this time. On one side the high peaks of Alta Patagonia (in English, High Patagonia), on the other the lakes of Nahuel Huapi. At surface level it looked set to be a standard alpine race, but as soon as you broke that surface it gave way to endless, deep brown powder. The ground conditions here were unlike anything any of us had ever seen.
Welcome to Northern Patagonia. Just gorgeous scenery everywhere you looked
Unlike Valdivia last week, we were able to practice all stages thanks to lifts or shuttles, which was a godsend with two races back-to-back like this. Even though there was relatively little climbing this weekend, the deep ruts and compressions that quickly formed in the track made it a real test for upper body strength. It wasn’t a static track either, the soft soil meant that it was never the same twice - the lines you had perfected in practice simply did not exist any more when it came to your race run.
The Andes had us in awe all weekend
And even though the trails offered a gorgeous view on lake Nahuel Huapi, Robin Wallner did not take time to enjoy it
This weekend was a real breakthrough for our speedy Scandinavian,Robin Wallner. It didn’t come easily for him this week though. All through practice he felt he couldn’t quite get his rhythm right. On race day one it was much the same story, each time he came down the hill unhappy with his riding. After a steady first two stages, the timing sheet told a different story on the third stage, where he bagged a sixth - his first ever top ten stage result. Going into Sunday he felt like the course was coming to him and he took two more top ten results - a sixth on the fifth and an eighth on the final stage. This propelled him up to a fantastic tenth overall, something he was over the moon come Sunday evening.
Brown-powder surfing at his best by Robin Wallner
Robin Wallner said, “I kept her lit this weekend. It wasn’t always easy, but I managed to mostly stay out of the dust and I’m super-stoked about some of my stage times.It is a real confidence boost to see that I can run at the front and when I get home the trails should just about be clear of snow, so I can start riding more to get ready for the next round in Ireland. I can’t wait!”
Keeping your weight on the back wheel was key to stay upright this weekend
It was a mixed weekend for the Gehrig Twins. On Saturday Caro stormed her way to sixth in the overall rankings, her best ever classification at an EWS race. While one twin was flying high, the other was finding the going tough, and Anita was back in 12th in the overnight standings after a small mechanical on stage three. Come Sunday the roles were slightly reversed and Caro found herself dropped back to seventh after a couple of small crashes and Anita managed to fight her way forwards to eleventh. This was Caro’s best ever EWS result, and, more importantly for her, she beat her sister for the first time at an EWS race, because the fiercest rivalry is always with the person closest to you!
Roller-coaster of a weekend for Anita Gehrig who suffered a mechanical on the first day
Caro Gehrig on her way to a personal best - 7th palce at GC
Caro Gehrig said, “I stayed on the pony! This was such a tough race, the ever-changing course made it such a huge mental challenge. I overcame this adversity.”
Our flying Scotsman at his best
Gary Forrest, our flying Scotsman, had a tough weekend. Last week in Valdivia he understood how much longer the road back from his horrific spinal injury last year is, so he knew that this was going to be a difficult week for him. Like the warrior he is, he fought on this weekend, not shying away from one of the most brutal courses ever seen on the EWS circuit. Even so, he found positives in his riding this week and is more determined than ever to put the work in to get back up to pace when he gets home.
Gary Forrest is steadily getting his strength back
Gary said, “Looking at my times from this weekend, I can see that the speed is there, which is good. It’s just the strength I am missing, I can feel it on the stages when my back isn’t strong enough, so the head drops and I’m just holding on. It’s much easier to find fitness than speed though, so it’s a good place to start from. It’s been an amazing trip to South America, and while my results are not where I would like them to be, I could be at work now, when I’m on the other side of the world riding bikes - life is good!”
Pedro Burns getting some air just above Cerro Catedal town center
After a great result last weekend,our Chilean under-21 star in the making, Pedro Burns, had a tough weekend. He faced some difficulties on track this weekend, find the going challenging. However he still salvaged a very respectable sixth place - which is a good result for a bad weekend.
Tough weekend for Pedro Burns who faced some difficulties on track this weekend even tough he looked pinned
Autumn is creeping in on the south hemisphere and Robin was in camo-mode in the early morning
The team now head back to Europe (well, except for Pedro of course), to take some time at home to train, ride and get ready for the next challenge - round three of the EWS in Ireland on 15 May. See you there!