Across Andes 2023: “Have you seen the weather…?”
Starting and finishing in Coyhaique, Chile for the 2023 edition, Across Andes is an unsupported, ultra-distance gravel race, spanning 1000km through Patagonia and some of the world’s most remote landscapes. While the three previous editions have benefitted from the southern hemisphere’s spring weather, this year’s forecast is looking a little different : heavy rain, freezing temperatures and snow will make some challenging conditions for riders, who will have some tough decisions to make about what kit they bring. We spoke to four Apidura riders: Rob Britton, Chas Christiansen, Alvin Escajeda and Omar Rubiano, about their setups and preparations for this year’s event.
Quitting life as a pro-tour rider to concentrate on ultra-distance gravel racing, Rob Britton quickly made a name for himself by setting an FKT on a gravel north-to-south route on Vancouver Island earlier this year. Fast forward to September and Rob is lining up at the 2023 edition of Badlands, where he took the overall win at what was one of the most competitive start lines in the race’s history.
With the weather being as questionable as it is I’d rather be in a “have it and not need it vs a need it and not have it” scenario.
“Not sure if you’ve seen the weather forecast but uh….let’s just say I made a few mods to the pack list!”
Hoping to run a slightly lighter setup for Across Andes, Rob has gone with a tried-and-tested combination of packs – the same he used for his FKT on Vancouver Island. Spare clothes and cold weather gear will live in his 7L Racing Saddle Pack, while snacks, batteries a spare light, tools and quick-access layers will go in a 4L Racing Frame Pack. A Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack will give Rob space for more snacks and a battery pack, completed by a Racing Hydration Vest, where he’ll carry – yes – more snacks, chain lube, cash, a rain jacket and a drink mix.
No stranger to the world of ultra-distance racing, Chas has competed in a number of races including The Transcontinental, Atlas Mountain Race and The Bright Midnight in Norway. Starting out as a bicycle messenger in New York City, Chas always finds the perfect balance between fun, adventure and competitiveness when he rides.
When the weather turns bad, it’s crucial to be able to add extra carry capacity to your go-to setup. Usually opting for the 7L Racing Saddle Bag for races of similar length, Chas has chosen the 9L Expedition Saddle Pack to carry extra layers and spares for this year’s Across Andes.
While this isn’t the first time Chas has run a Racing Aerobar Pack, this will prove even more useful with such challenging conditions forecast. Together with the 4L Racing Frame Pack and 2L Racing Long Top Tube Pack, Chas’s setup makes the most of the space on his Santa Cruz V4 Stigmata CC.
This will be Alvin’s second time at Across Andes, but despite learning a lot from his first loop around the Araucania Region of Chile, the new location and route mean there are plenty of unknowns.
The bike setup itself is identical to my 2022 setup, but with weather being close to freezing and plenty of rain in the forecast, my bag setup has changed.
“I’ll be riding a Cervelo Aspero with Shimano Di2, Easton Cycling Cockpit and a custom wheelset with a SON Dynamo Hub with Pirelli 700/40 Tires.
“For the rear, I’ve chosen the 9L Expedition Saddle Pack to carry a variety of layers: rain jacket, rain pants, down jacket, spare bibs, socks, wool underpants and every ultra-racers’ best friend – an emergency bivvy. The bungee straps are my favourite for quick access to layers when constantly taking them on and off.
“On the frame, I’ve got a 3L Expedition Frame Pack for food, some tools and my power bank which is routed through the cable port. The internal pocket is crucial for keeping valuables like my passport, spare cash and my brevet card dry and safe during the race. The last piece is the 1L Top Tube Pack, in here I keep all my quick-access electronics, cords and my trusty film camera.”
Omar is a Colombian cyclist who, after discovering bikepacking 5 years ago, did his first ultra-distance race in 2022, placing first in The Transcordilleras in the nonstop category.
Riding his Open WI.DE gravel bike for this year’s Across Andes, Omar joins the other riders in relying on the welded, waterproof construction of our Racing Packs to keep his gear safe and dry.
Choosing the race-proven combination of a 7L Racing Saddle Pack, 4L Racing Frame Pack and 1L Racing Top Tube Pack, Omar’s grit, determination and fitness together with a solid setup will put him in good stead for a podium position.