News You Can Use
Janet Alexander and Chris Maund
April/May 2015
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Welcome to our April/May newsletter! We are changing up the pace and giving you a small glimpse into our racing world (and why we have been distracted from writing newsletters) with our most recent adventure to South America. Hope you Enjoy it!

 Plan A: Racing in Patagonia

April was an exciting blur for both of us as we were in Patagonia racing Alpac Attack, a six-day mountain bike stage race, which started in the remote town of Alumine, Argentina and finished 650kms later in Pucon, Chile. We went early to Alumine to get time adjusted and to make sure our bikes and ourselves were ready to race. What we hadn't planned on was the unusual business hours of Argentina. Shops were open from 8.30am to 12.30pm, closed from 12.30pm to 4.30pm and re-opened again at 4.30pm to 8.30pm. Restuarants opened 'early' for dinner at 7pm if you were lucky but the usual starting hours were 8.30pm to 9.00pm and in some cases the norm for an evening meal was 10.00pm. Woah! You guessed it...eating dinner at the time that we should have been in bed? Not going to happen so consequently we didn't eat out once while in Alumine and thankfully had booked a delightful cabana by the river with a full kitchen so yes - we cooked for ourselves.

Mother nature gave us an interesting display and had us on alert with the Villarrica volcano erupting two weeks prior to our arrival forcing Pucon, (where the race ended) to be evacuated. Savage cold headwinds with threatening rain welcomed us to Argentina on the 122km stage one from Alumine to Pehenuia with the wind buffeting us every which way but forward. We passed many lakes but couldn't really take in the view as our collective eyes were firmly on the road ahead, concentrating on staying upright and just getting to the end. Stage two was a 115km loop starting and finishing in lake side Pehenuia with interesting landscapes as seen in the photo of Chris racing below. The weather was fickle but those rain laden clouds stayed perched above like balls of grey cotton wool and it was just dust and gravel for the riders. There was supposed to be an out and back portion up to a volcanic crater and as much as it was a downer not to be able to ride those trails, it was inspiring to know that the indigenous people of this area of Argentina still had the right to say 'get off my land!'Stage three started with a relaxed neutral ride to the border control of both Argentina and Chile. It was uneventful, always a good thing and with our freshly stamped passports we were off racing on a 110km stage from Icalma to Lonquimay. A 15km bite of a climb took us out of Icalma before a nerve wracking 14km HUGE fast descent on winding gravel roads, speeding traffic included as it was a main artery highway to the border. It dropped us into an area that had recently been destroyed by forest fires with permission being granted for us to pass through having been given only three days prior. It certainly made for a dramatic stage with the sound of helicopters overhead still dumping water on smoldering trees as we climbed 21km past blackened tree stumps and traces of smoke a constant reminder of the fire. On the other side a colorful burst of autumn hues that escaped damage was a stark contrast to the burn area. Next up was cold rain in the valley and a change of course for stage four as the Volcano Lonquimay which we were supposed to summit was now in a cloud of dense fog and covered in deep snow. Instead of a 130km loop it was to be an 80km out and back. Wet weather gear was the required clothing of choice as seen in this 'chilly, arms crossed do we really have to' photo before the start with those ominous clouds and snow on the mountains in the background.We did get one full day of sun for stage five riding 60km from Curacautin to Mellipeuco with glorious views of Llaima volcano along the way. The 130km stage six from Melipeuco to Pucon however brought more rain, this time with a vengeance and provided near hypothermic conditions. Yes it was Patagonia and we all should have had our rain gear but alas we were bewitched by the early morning bluebird skies so we started the stage sans rain gear and paid for it later. Me crossing the finish line, completely soaked to the bone was not a pretty sight! Our only saving grace was the finish line being at a thermal hot pool resort and a good soak was in order. Our race was finished but momma nature was not with the eruption of Calbuco volcano the day after we flew out disrupting travel plans for some of the racers who stayed on to holiday.  Bonus spectacular images captured the moment below....WOW!

Plan B: Sometimes you just have to roll with it 

In terms of racing it was not what we both had envisioned. I was unable to finish stage one due to projectile vomiting 75km into the stage and also missed stage two due to illness and the need to be near a bathroom. I rode what I could of stage three (3.5 hours) and four (4.5 hours) but a meager bowl of rice for sustenance does not make for a great race nutrition plan. I resigned myself to the fact that - 'hey, this was going to be a good (and expensive) training camp' and there was no point stressing over it, move to Plan B. I raced stage five as it was a short and spectacular stage, rode most of stage six so I could at least finish with all the other racers and just enjoy being in Patagonia.


Chris on the other hand was racing well up until stage five where he was taken out by another rider, who caused him to crash hard breaking an inch off the back of his helmet, sustaining 'mucho' volcanic gravel rash to his left side and a 'ding' to his left hip and elbow. Being the hardened athlete that he is, he still managed to finish the stage fueled on by the thought of catching 'the said crash creator' and was treated by the medic once he crossed the finish line. Due to his injuries he decided to have his own little adventure on day six in an attempt to avoid aggravating his elbow with the potential hammering of bumpy trails on the designated race route of stage six. Shall we say a detour through knee-deep mud from torrential rain, sections of some very off-road trails and bush whacking, a bull, a fallen tree, buying a towel and the stripping off of wet cycling clothes in a remote store to avoid hypothermia with the owner looking on gobsmacked yet providing copious amounts of hot coffee to the gringo AND an eventual bus ride to Pucon nine hours later occurred!

Life indeed is full of surprises and you just have to make lemonade when you are handed lemons. Good tasting lemonade I might add!

 Next up is Canada and BC Bike Ride. Plan A will be back on the cards and YES you guessed it...hopefully race and stay in the game.  


Thanks to Phil Evans and Kate Hobson at, Monica Arruda Photography and Harry Kikstra at for the wonderful images and to all our fellow racers for making it such a great adventure.

That's all for now. If you would like to read back issues of our newsletter these are now archived on our website:


Cheers Janet and Chris xxx