Fun in the sun in San Pedro de Atacama: Atacama Crossing 2013 build-up

Saturday the movie theme moved away from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and back to Rocky IV. I figured “If running hurts so much, then sod it, I’ll get back into the cross training to acclimatise and enjoy myself”.

Previous bike rides and the hike up Volcan Lascar totally hit the spot. Total fun, and a distraction rather than a reminder of the upcoming event. And at least the lungs/legs/heart didn’t burn as much as running!

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Road to nowhere? No, the road to Argentina, silly!!!

So I took my trusty steed out along my favourite Chilean highway, the 27-CH, aka the Paso de Jama which takes you all the way to Argentina.

Without many landmarks to gauge your trajectory, except the constant Volcan Licancabur, it is difficult to know whether you’re cycling up hill, down hill, or along the flat at times. A weird optical illusion occurs, as is also seen in the Magnetic Hills of India and the Electric Brae in Ayrshire, either way, it was a relief at times when I figured I was cycling up hill, as I was giving it everything to poodle along at 6mph.

In glorious sunshine, I took my time and just kept knocking out the distance, although when going slow it was tough with every 100 metres marked on the tarmac surface!

I made it to the 20km mark, that is, 20km from San Pedro. It had taken me ages, around 2 and a half hours, then I realised, ‘Oh shit, now I have to get back again…”

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After around 45 minutes attempting to hitch back, (not easy at a rate of one vehicle passing per 10 minutes with me carrying a bike), I finally caught a lift.

This last part is a complete lie, just checking to see how many of you really think I’ve gone completely weak out here! 🙂 Hitch back to San Pedro, are you crazy? When I’ve hired the bike for 6 hours, and me being a student and all!!! 😉

I carried on and made it to the 25km mark before I turned around and started on my return trip (without assistance). It was really only now that the true essence of the bike ride became evident. The sprawling desert, intersected with highway 27-CH, was now obviously a complete descent, and had been a continual climb to that point. Visually this was a great boost, but nowhere near as much as the fantastic boost from the fun of high-speed-freewheeling for the first 15km back to San Pedro! If I’d had the air in my lungs I’d have yelled “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” all the way down, but at an altitude of 3000 metres it was more of a “wee”.

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The descent was only interrupted by a brief interlude to do a tiny run, and more because i spotted some cool secluded rocks and i imagined a brief Anton Krupicka impersonation. For any that don’t know the name, Anton is a total legend and a hero of most of us ultra and trail runners. He’s generally found running ‘minimalist’ in the Rocky Mountains. Usually naked bar from short-shorts, and a pair of New Balance Minimus Trail.

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I guess I need to work on the tan, the hair, and the beard. Then, and only then, will I be able to move to the “Mecca” of Boulder and run amongst the greats! I realise that even then I’d struggle as the Hokas certainly don’t fit in with the whole minimalist ethos. I have figured out one way to balance things out though, so Anton, you can kiss my ass!

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Minimalist running in Hokas!

What a great day out, and so much more fun than coughing up a lung attempting a proper run in this heat and altitude! Maybe Racing The Planet will allow me take a mountain bike into the event with me, it doesn’t mention bicycle on the mandatory kit list, but it doesn’t say you can’t… It also allows for super cool fashion statements thus: Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 16.19.28

For any concerned that I might be losing it out here, do not fear, the cavalry is on it’s way! The fantastic Rebecca Pattinson (fellow competitor) lands in Calama in little over an hour, and will be followed shortly thereafter by her mother Gillian Pattinson (volunteer), aunt Jennifer Murray (fellow competitor), and Jennifer’s friend Bianca Fernandez (fellow competitor). We’ll all catch up and eat together tonight. Finally some like-minded company and a massive bonus of additional characters (and what characters) for future blog posts!

Ok, that’s it for now. I leave you with just a few more gratuitous photos from yesterday’s fantastic bike ride:

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5 thoughts on “Fun in the sun in San Pedro de Atacama: Atacama Crossing 2013 build-up

  1. Pingback: Introducing: Team GB ultra-runner Matt Moroz | Diaries of a Marathon Widow

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