The Inca Avalanche is a mass-start downhill race mimicking the format of Mega Avalanche. It starts at the top of Abra Malaga (approx. 16,000 ft) and finishes in Tanccac in the valley below (approx. 10,000 ft) and fastest times are generally around 23 minutes. It's located in the Sacred Valley of Peru (the same valley where Machu Picchu is located) and the race actually goes through some Inca ruins. Aside from the location and vertical drop, another thing that makes this race different is that the entire mountain is fair game, including the paved road, so riders can choose any line to get to the bottom. Admittedly, there's a pretty well defined trail for most of the descent that everyone takes, but the top section is extremely open (and slippery) so the mass start is pretty entertaining!
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a rough weekend for Team Santa Fe Brewing - Pivot Cycles. We flew from Chile to Cusco, Peru on Tuesday and Wednesday morning I woke up with a bad cold. I felt a bit better for our pre-ride on Thursday but Friday was so wiped out that I spent most of the day sleeping. Sean felt good Friday so he decided to do another pre-ride and a few minutes into the course hit a submerged rock and exploded his front wheel. He also double-flatted and hit his leg on a rock.
The next day, Saturday, we had two qualifying runs on the course. Sean woke up feeling sick, not to mention sore, so he decided not to race, so Syd and I headed up without him. This was my best day. I felt good and had two great runs. The first run I finished sixth (in 23:45) and the second I won (in 23:38), solidifying my front-row call-up.
Syd also had a good first run (third), but at the beginning of the second run started to feel nauseous. She started anyway and made it about halfway down the course before pulling off the trail and vomiting until the police escort picked her up. When we returned to our hostel we found out that Sean had also been sick to his stomach all day so both of them were out for Sunday’s finals.
On Sunday the weather was beautiful. For the first time I could see the mountains around the start and the trails were running drier than I'd seen them yet. Unfortunately after a decent start I got taken out into a mud hole and then sliced a hole into my tire due to an extremely poor line choice. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to have a good finish (by the time I got my pack off to grab a CO2 cartridge 30 or so people had passed me) so I took my time fixing my flat and decided to enjoy the course. Apparently I started having a bit too much fun though and wasn't paying attention as I passed someone and ran straight into a huge rock, flipped over the bars and landed on another rock. I also flatted my front tire and without a second tube had to ride the rest of the run with a flat front tire and a severely bruised back.
It has now been a couple of days since the race and everyone is feeling much better. We spent all day yesterday exploring Machu Picchu (and hiking to the top of 11,000-foot Machu Mountain) and are looking forward to exploring some more ruins today, this time by bike!
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