Let The Race Commence

A racer launching himself downhill during the Cerro Abajo in Valparaiso.

Let the bike race commence! Once a year in Valparaiso, there’s a large (and terrifying) bike race called Cerro Abajo. This year my family and I were lucky enough to go see it. The race takes place on one of the many hills of Valparaiso. The bikers go down the hill, through houses, over a bus, and along alleyways only a couple inches wider than the bike. The racers go down flights of stairs and off numerous jumps, all the while attempting to keep dogs and people out of their path.

This year, the race was longer than in past years, and it started further up the hill. My family and I only had time to be there for a couple hours, as I wanted to be back in time to facetime my friends. (something which went incredibly well and was very fun. GG Tobias) Upon arrival to the incredibly packed and ridiculously noisy (there was a DJ in an armored car), we became aware that the bike race hasn’t started yet. With the heat reaching us, we were desperate to find a spot to watch the bikers before I had to go back.

Eventually, we made our way to a somewhat less crowded area by the jump and waited, for an hour, in the full heat of the sun. With no water. I was ready to take a perfect slow-mo video of the bikers jumping off the ramp but got tired of holding my phone after 15 minutes. We had no idea when the bikers were coming down, but we were running out of time. After a while, the security guards came and made sure that there was no one on the race track, and closed the gates leading into it. “This was a good sign,” we thought. “This means that they’re almost ready.” Boy, were we wrong.

It turns out being another thirty minutes before the first racer comes down the mountain. To say the least, we are not prepared. A whistle from up the hill. The crowd goes wild. People bang cowbells against the fence. Another whistle, this time closer. The people all around start cheering. A movement on the ramp. I take out my phone, the bike launches into the air, I attempt to hit record. The biker lands on the other side of the ramp and disappears down the mountain. Everybody goes silent. Just like that, I miss him.

Then another whistle. I hit record, the racer launches himself off the platform and continues down the hill. I check the video; it’s awful, the bike isn’t even in focus. More time goes by, but eventually, another one comes down. This time I get a good slow-mo video. One after another racers come down, each time the crowd goes wild.

In conclusion, the day was fun but the way back to our apartment was blocked by the race. Despite this, I still managed to make it home to the facetime call. From what I saw, I think that this competition means a lot to the people of Valparaiso, and it was celebrated accordingly. It was really fun watching the crowd get excited whenever a person came down. It could have been a little sooner though.

Ian

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