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Mountain Biking in Santiago, Chile

Story by Steve Giordano and Lynn Rosen

All photos by Steve Giordano

Taking a Nap

In our gung-ho world, it's reassuring to see someone who knows how to relax. This man could be following the training advice of university and Olympics track coach Ralph Vernacchia: Start out slow, then kick back.

As this group, on its way to Santa Lucia Hill, shows, just getting started can take some time.

Will you PLEASE get on your bikes so we can GO already?


OK, OK, but which way is the park of Santa Lucia Hill?


Finally the group takes off, strategically avoiding busy streets with no bike lanes.


Just about the best and most thorough sources of Chile biking information is http://www.chipsites.com/chile-travel/extreme-sports-cycling.html, a site maintained by Colin Bennett. Bennett is a writer, cyclist and English teacher living in Santiago. He says that urban and trail biking are catching on in Santiago, but the infrastructure and good attitudes of drivers are a little slow to catch up. "The Chilean government launched a campaign last summer to promote the use of bicycles called Bicivilízate, which loosely translates to 'Civilize Yourself By Riding a Bicycle,'" Bennett says.

Keep in mind, though, Santiago is a city of five million people. Wear a helmet, ride defensively, and stay alert.


This is safe urban mountain biking across the Mapocho River, which slices through metropolitan Santiago.


Santiago is in an inland basin between the Coast Range to the west and the Andes to the east. Skiing is only 45 minutes uphill - the base areas are at about 7,500 feet.

The park begets trails with no car traffic, so while you're winding your way there, keep an eye out for some fun sights.

But first, the Café Literario, a fine place to rest from the strenuous biking and soak up some espresso.

Back on the bike, here's something you won't see back home - a trio of clowns on their way to work.

How about this bar in what may be a sinister neighborhood?

This bigger-than-life statue certainly deserves a looksee.

People-watching is always fun, but watching people watch other people is even more fun.


What could those be?

Wait a minute - exactly what planet are we on? And where's the park?



Ah, OK. We must be in the park finally


Now and then, there's a dog or two, too.

Photographers are always getting their eyes caught on something.


They don't seem to mind the attention...
or the results.
The day's destination - Santa Lucia Hill. This is where the Spanish Conquistador Pedro deValdivia founded the city of Santiago on February 12th, 1541.

It takes some climbing to get to the top.

But the view of Santiago is worth the effort.

It was a good day for a bike ride.



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