“I had a vague image in my head of how Colombia would look, but where we were at least, for the Red Bull Los Andes 2011, the reality turned out to be pretty different – mountainous tropical rainforest with lots of fruit trees and bamboo. The only thing that wasn’t a surprise were the coffee plantations!
“The rich soil and heavy rainfall also made for some very muddy going. The classic enduro format wasn’t really extreme enough to suit me, but the three specials reminded me of the start of my enduro career in France and meant that I was competitive against the 250 or so riders that had come from all over South America.
'Any disappointment with how the race finished was more than compensated for by the great people I met'
“Everything was going well until I punctured my front wheel on the second to last test on the last lap. Despite a few ‘moments’ I managed to ride to the end of loop and the last special, where a Mexican friend Homero Diaz ‘lent’ me his wheel, which we then swapped back again to clock in with just 1m 30s to spare! In the end I finished in second place, 20 seconds behind a young Argentinian [Kevin Benavides] who races in the Enduro World Championships.
“Any disappointment with how the race finished was more than compensated for by the great people I met during my short visit. I was able to spend time with some up-and-coming young South American riders and answer their questions about the Dakar, which they all really keen to enter. I also got to stay in a magical place in Armenia city, the ‘Don Arthuro Finca’. Nothing flashy, just a big farm in the middle of nowhere where they grew everything on your plate and made you feel part of the family. I will definitely be back!
“Many thanks to Red Bull for inviting me to an excellent event and to KTM Colombia for the loan of the perfect bike for the event – a 2012 KTM 300 EXC."
- Check out Cyril Despres' profile
- More at Cyril's official website cyrildespres.com
- Video highlights of Red Bull Los Andes