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SONIA COLOMO WINS FIRST PLACE IN ACROSS ANDES

SONIA COLOMO WINS
FIRST PLACE IN ACROSS ANDES


Bikepacking in Chilean Patagonia  
12/21                                   SONIA COLOMO                  ACROSS ANDES
ACROSS ANDES

Acrossandes is the first ultracycling race held in Chile, the only one with live tracking, which crosses the Andes in bikepacking format. In its second edition, held just a few weeks ago, the route moved to the Chilean Patagonia, giving the starting signal on November 28th.

Sònia Colomo, friend and ambassador of the brand, participated in this second edition, and in addition to finishing the challenge, she took first place in the women's category after covering a total of 1018 km and overcoming an elevation gain of 15,000 meters.
General Summary:
Total km of the route: 1018km
Elevation gain: 15000m positive

Result of Sònia Colomo
First position in the Female Category
Eighth position in the general classification:
Time on the move: 68h 31minutes
Rest time: 15h 1min
Total: 3 days 11h 32min


After accepting the challenge and having some problems on the outward journey, Sònia finishes the race on Wednesday December 1rst at 18:30, proclaiming herself winner of the women's category and consolidating eighth place in the overall standings. Although she crosses the finish line without voice and with a lot of accumulated fatigue... her face reflects pure happiness, the feeling of achieving something that had cost her a lot of hard work, but for which it was so worth fighting for.

Her Megamo Factory has accompanied her on this journey, being part of an adventure that Sònia will surely never forget.

 


THE ROUTE

The 2021 edition moves to the Chilean Patagonia riding through the wonderful Andean Patagonian forest, crossed by rushing streams, with breathtaking views of the Villarrica, Llaima and Lonquimay volcanoes. During the route you will see the Andean Araucanía in all its splendor, and then descend from the heights and cross Chile from mountain range to sea, reaching the shores of the Pacific Ocean.


 
The challenge is to leave Melipeuco (Chile) and make a circular tour of the Araucania and Los Rios area, passing through 3 checkpoints in 6 days and 9 hours maximum and in bikepacking mode. Although there was a choice between Gravel or MTB bike, Sònia opted for the mountain bike and prepared her Megamo Factory with all the necessary accessories to overcome the route.

The Araucanía region in central Chile covers a varied terrain from the Pacific coast in the west to the volcanoes and mountains of the Andes in the east. To the southeast is Chile's Lakes region, with freshwater lakes and temperate rainforests.
In this edition, Sonia and the other participants passed through ancient forests, traveling through the following areas, among others: Villarrica National Park, the China Muerta Reserve, the historic Conguillío and Huerquehue National Park, and the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve. Nature reserves, such as Huerquehue National Park and Conguillío National Park, protect ecosystems with lakes, rivers and araucaria forests.


MEGAMO FACTORY

The Megamo Factory is the bike that has accompanied Sònia on this adventure and was prepared in detail for the occasion. MAVIC Crossmax Elite Carbon wheels with 700x50 tires with a rolling profile, but with enough grip for a little looser terrain. SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS groupset with 12v 10-52T cassette and 36 chainring for comfortable pedaling on the flats and also on long climbs. XT brakes, SQLab handlebars with 12° backsweep and 15mm rise and ERGON grips for comfort. Also Deda aerobars for a different pedaling position.

Apidura bags were used for this adventure: Backcountry Full Frame Pack 4L, Backcountry Downtube Pack, Backcountry Long Top Tube Pack, two 1.2L Food Pouch and Expedition Saddle Pack 14L.


 
INTERVIEW WITH SONIA COLOMO

1. How do you feel after being the first classified female and eighth in the overall category of this edition of AcrossAndres?

The truth is that I feel very happy and I am very satisfied with this result.

2. Define this experience in one word

Brutal.

3. What was the first thing you thought when the opportunity to participate in AcrossAndres came up?

Across Andes is a race that I had in mind for some time, but without the support of brands like Megamo, BUFF or Apidura it would have been impossible for me to participate. So when the opportunity came up to go, I was like: why not? And I organized everything to be able to be at the start.

4. Did you ever think you could win the race?

Not at all. I went into this race in adventure mode. Obviously, you want to do your best, but you never know one hundred percent if you will be ready for something as big as this. In the end I am a person who works a lot of hours, I try to train the hours I have free and the simple fact of being able to go and finish was for me a goal that gave me a lot of respect.
I went out the first two days super calm, I was going at a pace that was easy for me and that I could maintain for many hours. After CP2, I saw that I was really doing quite well. I was strong, I was going very easy and I was not losing anything by trying to push a little bit. My legs felt good, so on the third night at CP3, I slept for an hour and a half and started pedaling two points above the pace I had been going so far. I was very motivated and here I really believed I could win; I was going very fast, I cut the gap with the first girl and I was in the top 10 overall.
5. Was it always clear to you that you preferred MTB to Gravel? Why did you choose mountain biking?

I'm a person who does proportionally more MTB than Gravel and, therefore, I feel more comfortable on a MTB. A 1018 km race is no joke, you never know what you're going to find and your body has to be prepared for it. There is no perfect bike for such a long race, with mixed terrain that combines good trail with lots of loose rocks, asphalt, hard climbs and long descents; all have their pros and cons, but in my scale won the Factory. This doesn't mean it was the best option for everyone, but it was for me, so even though I was the only one with an MTB, I don't regret my choice at all. It was really a well thought out decision, I'm a bit of a freak and I gave it a lot of thought, adapted some aspects of the bike to what I thought I would need and consciously prepared it for what was to come.

6. What materials are essential for a race like this? What did you carry in your luggage?

This is a question that is always very difficult for me to answer, because something that is essential for me is probably not essential for someone else and the other way around. Basically, I think it is essential to carry tools and spare parts to be self-sufficient. It is obvious that there will be things that if they break you will not be able to do much with them, but it is important that you can at least fix the basics.
Another aspect that is essential for me is the peace of mind of knowing that I have enough warm clothes to pedal in any weather conditions. In this edition of Across Andes, the forecast was a little unstable, the highest temperatures were around 19º C during the day, if the sun came out about 25º C, however in the afternoons and evenings it dropped to 3º C.

In addition, it was very windy and the threat of rain was always present. In my case, light packing was a bit complicated, but I knew that wearing something extra warm would also give me some peace of mind knowing that I would be fine no matter what the weather was like. I had an undershirt, a short sleeve jersey, a long sleeve merino jersey, a small down jacket, a 3-layer goretex, sleeves, leg warmers, rain pants, neoprene shoe covers, winter gloves and two BUFF® tubulars. I missed being able to take a thin windbreaker, but I didn't have one.

Other things I had in my luggage were the essentials for bivouacking: a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat and a thermal blanket. I also had a headlamp and spare batteries, external batteries, food and 3.75 L of water with a filter to make it drinkable in case of emergency. Oh yes, and for me something very important: a lip protector. This is a detail that if you forget, you can stop and buy one in any pharmacy, because if you start to get small cracks on your lips because of the sun and the cold, the race can become very, very uncomfortable.

7. Did you ever think about quitting? What was the hardest moment of the race for you? And the best moment apart from crossing the finish line...?

I did have a moment when I thought about quitting. It was after CP2 in a gravel area that went up and down without giving much respite. There were a lot of trucks, they raised a lot of dust and you couldn't breathe. I started to bleed from the nose because of the dust and the cold, and I had the feeling that it would never end. I like being in the mountains, the more remote the better, and these 120 km were nothing like I expected to be in a race in the middle of the Andes. It's not that I really believed in quitting, I just wanted the zone to be over because I was having a bad time and I wanted to be back in the mountains out of the truck.



 
Apart from this moment, I had other moments that were also very hard. On my arrival at CP1, I got an itch on my hand and it swelled up so much that I couldn't put on a glove. I had a bit of an allergic reaction, I was shivering and I could not sleep, although my idea was to rest for about 3 hours. I got up and went out at night to pedal because I could not do much more, and after a few hours quite complicated, little by little I began to improve.

Also when I got to CP2 something similar happened to me, my body was boiling and I was still bleeding from the nose. I had been very cold and after sleeping for about 3 hours, I woke up without being able to speak.


 
There were many good moments too. The stretch that went from Pucón to CP2 was a lot of fun, roads that went up and down like a roller coaster and then crossed a track area with fossilized lava and views of the Villarrica volcano. When I found an ice cream shop in the middle of nowhere and another one with hot chocolate.

When I spent hours and hours pedaling alone through araucaria forests, following lakes and spectacular landscapes. When I left CP3 at night and the brutal stretch between Nueva Toltén and Lastarria early in the morning. The sunrise at the Colico and Caburga lakes, and also the avocado and egg sandwich for breakfast in Panguipulli after not having dinner the night before.


 
8. What was the first thing you thought when you crossed the finish line?

The first thing I thought was: how crazy. I was very excited, I had been crying since the entrance to Melipeuco and I arrived and everyone was crying too. It was very heavy, I don't have enough words to describe this moment. I had achieved something that gave me a lot of fear and respect at the beginning, something that I had prepared thoroughly and that had a lot of effort, dedication and perseverance behind it. Something that went very well, but that could very well not have gone so well and did not necessarily depend on me one hundred percent.

9. What do you think you would improve or change if you were to do the test again?

I'm very happy with my bike and gear choice and probably wouldn't change anything right now about this part. Regarding the race strategy, it's always very easy to say you would change things when they are already done, however in the moment it's not so easy and you adapt to each situation. I think it went well, could I have pushed harder at the start? Maybe I could have, or maybe it would have taken its toll on me in the end. I don't know and I won't know.
10. Do you think you will participate in more ultradistance races like this one?

When you are about to finish a race like this, the first thing that comes to your mind is: never again. You sleep one night and in my case I wake up with the desire to start pedaling again. I'm not a person who competes too much and you have already seen that it took me almost 3 days to believe that I was ready to compete and get into competition mode. Even so, there are some races that I would like to do at some point in my life, and even if it wasn't in race mode, I would love to be able to do the course to enjoy it to the fullest.

 
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start participating in an ultradistance race?

This is also a question that is difficult for me to answer. I think that ultradistance is something very beautiful but also something very dangerous. You put your body to the limit and you have to know yourself well. I'm not one of those people who will tell you the typical "if you want to, you can" and all this positivism that goes nowhere. If you want to, train, know yourself, do small adventures and plan something that, even if it scares you, is achievable and you can enjoy it, both preparing and doing it. Set small, realistic goals during the race, be flexible and adapt to the situation as it comes. I do not know if my advice will be the most appropriate or not, but before doing a race of these characteristics, think why you want to do it and from here you start exploring possibilities.

Ultracycling is a modality that if you consider it in competition mode, you have to sleep very little, which is extremely unhealthy for the body. Apart from the stress of the effort of cycling for long days, you add the stress of not sleeping and the short and long term consequences that this can generate. An ultra-cycling race is going to be hard during and also after, and this is something you have to know and want, or not, to assume.
ONE LAST QUESTION

The last question we asked Sònia in this interview was what her next adventure was going to be. Although we already know the answer we want to share it anyway: My next adventure is going to be something very big. The only thing I can tell you is that it is not a race, but I will try to fulfill a dream.

Very soon we will be able to tell you more about this new project of Sònia, in which we are going to give her our help and support so that she can make this dream come true.
Text: Sonia ColomoPhotos:
· Matt Maynard (@mattnmaynard)
· Ramias Photo (@ramias_photo)
· Relieveco.cc (@relieveco.cc)
· Clemente Díaz (@cdiazphoto)
The whole Megamo team wants to congratulate Sònia for this great work and the result obtained in such a tough race like this. Nobody more than her deserved this victory, Congratulations Sònia!