Trip to Santiago de Chile: mountain bike tours on the weekend (perhaps with guide)

I’ll be in Santiago again this October, and I have a weekend to kill. Obviously, I’d like to do some mountain biking. Unfortunately, my friend and colleague who invited me is a hiker and doesn’t like two wheels. So I thought I’d ask here for advice (in addition to that in this thread. While hiking up the local mountains with my friends, I have seen plenty of mountain bike trails that were put to good use.

So at the very least I’d need to rent a decent bike. It doesn’t have to be a top-end carbon fully, a solid hard tail with Deore SLX-level components would be plenty. But perhaps I’d also be open to hiring a tour guide. Can anyone point me to some websites or so? I’d mostly be interested in cross country riding, nothing too technical as I am mostly riding my road bike these days. But I am reasonably fit (currently about 4.3 W/kg) and I can spend a whole day in the saddle no problem.

Might be worth checking VeloGuide.

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Thanks, I’ll take that into consideration. Have you tried VeloGuide before?

I have not but I’ve heard good things about it.

I wanted to leave a review for veloguide and the tour guide they hooked me up with. (I got permission from the tour guide to post his name here.) Tl;dr I had a great experience and can recommend both.

After signing up, I messaged several potential guides, but only one replied. Without me doing anything, at one point veloguide’s concierge sent me an email, telling me they will take care of this. I was a bit surprised, even doubting this person is really from veloguide. But she was and eventually told me she found a suitable guide for me. True enough, I got in touch with the guide before booking and then booked the tour. The tour wasn’t cheap, I paid $315 for an all-inclusive, but let me already say here that this was a fair value given what I got.

Originally, my guide Claus (@clausplaut on veloguide) was supposed to pick me up from a metro stop, but due to the violent protests service of the public transportation system had been suspended. Claus picked me up from my Airbnb and we set off. He is actively racing both, road bikes and mountain bikes. The bike he got for me (after checking my measurements and weight) was a top-end trail bike, complete with Pivot carbon frame, SRAM XX1 groupset, dropper post and Hope 4-pot brakes. When locked out, it was more efficient uphill than my XC fully. And lighter as well. I also got a pack of Goo gels and a pack of tabs for my water bottles. Claus clearly knows the area extremely well, I wanted a XC tour, and that is what I got. We climbed almost non-stop for over 3 hours (2,500 m of elevation in total). However, I could feel I am living at sea level, because after about 2.5 hours or so I needed another gear, 28:42 wasn’t easy enough for me to spin without going into the red. The path got very, very steep in pieces and was quite technical. I had to crouch over the bike to balance traction in the front and rear. Claus kept on trucking: he seemed quite slow initially, but he kept his pace steady the whole time. At the top he had organized lunch, although I had brought my own just to be safe. He gave me two choices of going down, a pro line or the way we came. Since my handling skills have atrophied quite a bit (I haven’t regularly ridden offroad in over five, six years), I chose the easy route. Even that proved a bit tricky initially. The Chileans call it “anti-grip”, and I slid out several times until I got used to it. Basically the area is so arid that the ground compactifies to a rock hard, slippery surface, which then gets dusted with sand. Claus had a lot of gas left in the tank and his handling skills are on another level (wheeling downhill on several occasions). I’m sure people who are better off road than I am would be happy, too.

Overall, I am a happy camper, I had a great trip and would definitely do this again. I know this was a spendy early Christmas present, but I have learnt that experiences >> gear or money. The trip also made me want to work on my handling skills and spend more time on my beloved mountain bike.

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In the future try Andes Gravity. You can find the on TripAdvisor. The owner Pablo is a former pro rider and knows all of the local trails. He set my son and I up with decent bikes (aluminum Polygon 29ers with slx components).

We did 2 days with him. One at Durazno MTB Park which is a private MTB park and one day at Manquehue which are trails above the district of Santiago by that name. Both locations have blue, black and double black trails. He also leads multi-day trips in several locations across Chile if that’s what you’re after.

The best part was Pablo. He is funny, warm and a total bro. He will find trails that match your fitness and riding ability and make sure that everyone is having fun. He’ll also show you how to ride the local soil which has the traction of moon dust. Anti-grip as he calls it.

When I come back I’ll ride with Pablo even though I now know the trails.

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I will. Since I am in Santiago at least once every two years, I will definitely be back to ride trails and do some tours. How much was it?

Yup, I did experience anti-grip. When you are not used to it, it is a total mind fork, because you instinctively think you will have better grip there except that it is the complete opposite.

This is a bit of a tangent, but in case anyone is checking this thread in the future who is planning to visit South America, looking for bike-related advice… If you’re going to be in the Bogota, Colombia area, I’ve had a great time with a company called Bogota Bike Tours.

It is run by a Dutch expat. They run tours out of their bike shop in Candelaria (the historic city center). They have various types of tours (historical, culinary, street art) which take off at regular times, but also will organize more personal tours for you. I did a general, historical group tour around the city by bike and it was my favorite part of my visit. And, if you’re a gringo such as myself, the tour guide was fluent in English.

There were very few other Americans, but there are a lot of European backpackers who come through there.

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