Sunday, February 7, 2016

TransAndes Stage 0: Getting there......

We left our house for the airport at 4:00 AM.  After flying Salt Lake City---> LA---> Houston---> Santiago---> Temuco we bummed a ride to our Temuco hostel from the super nice race promotor who happened to be at the airport coordinating shuttles.  We arrived at our hostel after 6:00 PM the next day.  The following morning we took the 2.5 hours shuttle to Huilo Huilo, Chile aka the middle of nowhere!

 I have not mastered the art of packing light for a stage race.  
We had about 200lbs of luggage between the two of us!  

Our hostel in Temuco was very comfortable.  No one spoke English, but I was able to understand our host well enough to understand that she was very worried about how we were going to travel with all of our luggage. This was also the last time we had good wifi for the week.  At first not being 'connected' made me nervous.  What was going on in the world?  I had no idea.  Not being able to check work email also made me uncomfortable at first.   By the end of the week I enjoyed it..... 

The TransAndes folks arranged shuttles for the racers from Temuco to Huilo Huilo 
where the first three stages of the race started.

The closer we got to Huilo Huilo, the more beautiful the scenery became.  We drove past lakes, mountains, and volcanos.  

The transfer to Huilo Huilo also gave us the opportunity to meet some of our fellow racers.  We became friends with Argentinian Pablo whose enthusiasm was infectious as well as Pedro and Luis from Portugal who became our good friends over the week (photos to come).  This was Pablo's 2nd time racing TransAndes.  He told me, in broken English, that the last time he raced the power from his legs caused a volcano to erupt.  He was funny!  

Our shuttle delivered us to our first cabana in Neltume, 5km from the race venue.   

 The cabana was actually quite large and very clean, 
both which came as a surprise to me as I had no idea what we were booking.
Neltume was also the closest thing to a town to the race venue.
We were able to pick up some groceries and cooked rice and veggies the first night.
It cost less than $5.
We built bikes up before spinning over to the venue

 We rode over to the the race venue, registered and got our race bag.  
Registration was a breeze and everything was very well organized.  
 I'm sure the volcano museum was very interesting, 
but it was also important to the racers because that is where el banos were located.   

Our first day in Chile was a picturesque 80 degree day.  Before we were 'disconnected' I had seen that the forecast was going to take a turn for the worse the following day.  

 Chile is known for its woodwork.  
We thought it was super cool how the roots remained attached to the rafters of this building 
and how logs were used as insulation. 

This canopy hotel is very close to the race venue.  It also was super cool.  

The day before the race we moved to our new accommodations, 
a cabana that was only 2km and a big hill away from the venue.

Since we didn't have a vehicle we kept our race bags in our tent at the race venue.
We would load up our backpacks and just bring the essentials to the cabana. 

We were thankful for this cabana as the skies opened up and temperatures cooled off for the first three days of racing.  Our wood burning stove kept us cozy warm.  

 It was a soggy start to the race.
I wasn't too disappointed though as the mild temperatures helped us acclimate.
 Most of our training took place in 20degree weather.  

The opening ceremonies included traditional Chilean dance.

 Every night (as well as lunch) we were fed a feast of all-you-can-eat fresh local fare.
There was always pasta.  Lots and lots of pasta.
There were also dishes with lentils and garbanzo beans.  Sometimes there was rice.
The veggies and fruit were fresh and a variety of meats were served.
Free Chilean wine and beer were also a highlight.
I easily consumed upwards of 10,000 calories/day, but I needed it,
stage racing puts my metabolism on overdrive!

On Monday January 25th we awoke to cloudy skies and damp dirt for the first stage of TransAndes 2016.  On the same day 5-years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  
Over the past 5 years I have thought many times that my racing days and especially 
my days of epic adventures like TransAndes were over.  
Despite the overcast skies, what a glorious day to be lining up healthy, strong, and in remission.

Up next:  The Race!  

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