Emily Slaco didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the Andes Pacifico enduro race in Chile.
But once she decided to attend the gruelling race, which was held from Feb. 6 to 12, she certainly got on a roll.
In a field littered with World Cup mainstays, Slaco placed second in the five-stage race, trailing only superstar Tracy Moseley of Great Britain. Slaco completed the event in a total time of 184 minutes, 27.88 seconds (184:27.88), just under 15 minutes behind Moseley. However, she held on to edge bronze medallist Florencia Espiñeira by just over five seconds.
Reached via email while in transit, Slaco explained that her riding went well, though there was certainly an element of luck involved with the podium finish.
"It's pretty exciting to finish a race like Andes Pacifico with no major injuries or mechanicals — a lot can happen in five days of racing," she wrote.
Though Slaco hadn't done the race before, she was under the impression it was perhaps a little less physical than in previous years, meaning her body only had to overcome a few bumps and bruises and the usual fatigue as opposed to any extra struggles.
Staying based in the Sea to Sky, Slaco's training comprised of keeping fit on the mountains, but being winter, it's been on skis, not her usual steed.
"I haven't ridden a bike since November so the conditions were really different than the snow I've been skiing! The trails were really fun, very natural with lots of loose dirt and long fast sections," she explained. "I really liked a stage called La Parva on the first day. It was pretty long and fast down a big ridge, your arms felt like they were going to fall off, then right before you finished it dropped off into a steep, pretty rocky and technical bit, a good mix of terrain.
"Also, Day 2 was pretty stunning as we rode a beautiful liaison trail through the alpine. At one point, a group of horses galloped by us!"
Slaco noted that work was the primary reason she wasn't able to prepare like she might have liked, as she is in the backcountry for extended periods of time. She noted Juliana Bikes helped with a ride suitable for the Chilean challenge while Pemberton's Bike Co. got it set up while she was at work for extended periods.
"I didn't know I was going to be heading to Chile until a few weeks before the race so it all seemed like a bit of a whirlwind. I also work out of town at a backcountry ski lodge so training on the bike wasn't really an option for me," she noted. "My friends also helped tons in lending me gear, picking up and dropping stuff off for me while I was at work and giving me good advice. I logistically couldn't have gotten down there without everyone's help!"
Fellow Canadian Casey Brown finished sixth, riding well aside from a challenging third stage. In the pro division, Whistler resident Yoann Barelli also took sixth.