Riding the Rally Aysén Patagonia with Santa Cruz Bicycles: Day 01 and 02

You can’t throw a press launch in Patagonia without a solid plan and you can’t throw a race in Patagonia without experienced organization. The Rally of Aysén began as an idea, born in the offices of Santa Cruz Bicycles, some 10,446km away from Coyhaique, where the event would take place.

The idea was simple: in a time where enduro is hyped up, bring a rally format, multi-day event to the Aysén region of Chile, where mountain biking is in its infancy. The event would include timed climbs, timed cross-country, timed descents and downhill segments. It’d be a true battle of the most well-rounded riders and was not for anyone afraid of a bit of navigation or pushwacking…

The end of day 02 was met with a ripping descent down into a valley with a lake where we'd camp for the night.

The scene in Coyhaique is growing, slowly but the local trails are few and far between. In fact, most of the mountain bikers here take to the national parks to ride, an activity that might not be illegal, but is far from suitable for a race with hundreds of people.

Rolling hills on the way to camp.

In order for the Rally of Aysén to take place, Santa Cruz reached out to Andes-Pacifio organizer Matias Del Solar Goldsmith of Montenbaik.com. Matias would work with Coyhaique’s locals to reach out to local farmers and landowners, as well as the local government to cut new trails in order to link together farm, fire and forest roads.

Pew pew pew

For months, Montenbaik, along with the locals got together and began planning out a four-day trek through the forests and farmland surrounding Coyhaique. We were the first people to ride many of these trails and for anyone who’s ridden virgin singletrack, you know what that means: rough and rugged terrain.

Up here, it was other-worldly.

Day one and day two let us get our feet wet with a few ripping descents, a lot of hike-a-biking and some meandering cattle tracks. In short: it was unlike anything I’ve ever ridden before… See more in the Gallery!

  • boomforeal

    great photoset but wow, so far i would have less than no interest in doing this ride/race/event/whatever

    • earle.b

      Really less than no interest? This would be like multiple days of the Four Kings final day. Or multiple days of slightly less grueling Exile’s. Or I am missing some e-sarc and you’re actually fired up for it. I think the Rallye is great counter to full on Enduro. It’s like an evolved version of Tony’s rad events.

      • Agreed, Brian. I like the Enduro format but I see the appeal of the Rally format, too. Enduro focuses on the special stages when routes are chosen. A rally like this event will be (or like Trans-Provence already has established) puts some emphasis as well on the point-to-point nature, giving participants a chance to see more of the area they’re in, from the saddle.

        • Agreed… MTB in general seems to be too myopic in my opinion. It’s either Leadville or EWS… You rarely get events like this where you have to be a well-rounded rider to excel.

          • boomforeal

            @john watson nsmb.com/4963-an-unholy-trinity-the-4kings/

          • that looks really awesome! I wish there were more events like that!

            edit: I actually don’t enjoy racing, but that event looks way more appealing.

          • boomforeal

            yes, yes, yes and yes

          • A lot of people in Whistler are hoping it comes back in some form. It’s generally a good sign when people come to your ‘race’ in costume.

          • Dongoose

            I agree John. This event really emphasized my well-rounded suite of weaknesses–climbing, descending, cornering…riding…general fitness.

      • boomforeal

        nonono i really like the format – as you say b, it sounds like the last day of the 4 kings which sounds great! but in this case, it looks like you’re “rallying” scree slopes, meandering paths, double track, etc. and that has basically zero appeal. it is as you say an evolved version of tony’s race, on de-evolved (atavistic?) versions of the whistler/pemby trails

        • There are plenty of trails to be ridden and honestly, it’s the most interesting network I’ve ever ridden because it feels like a true to life backcountry excursion.

          • boomforeal

            different strokes for different strokes. i think i’ve been spoiled by some of the riding i’ve been able to experience

  • Roman

    Looks like so much stoke!

  • Ben Morgan

    The world needs more Seb Kemp!

  • Tony Clifton

    Like a Boss!

  • I hate you John Watson! Also there is no beer in any of the pictures, these pictures suck!

    • I left the beer for tomorrow! It’s so good

  • Bryce Rinkenberger

    How do you carry your camera around on these trips? Do you bring multiple lenses?

    • Yep. Usually three lenses and a Canon 1DX body. My pack usually weighs around 20 lbs after I add a hydration bladder.

  • alex

    So incredible! I want #33 as an iPhone wallpaper!

  • kasual

    That Mitsu van (Delica?) would be v nice to have.