Words and Pictures by Barney
Back in January, Barney found himself in Patagonia for a few days for the Santa Cruz Hightower launch, which also doubled as the trial run for a new XC/Enduro-style event, the Aysen Rally. He wrote the story up in the feature “A Question Of Dust” for issue 105.
When riding on this trip, Barney could travel light. He was lucky enough not to need a huge camera with him on the trail, as ace photog. Gary Perkin was on riding-shot duty, so Barney just carried his trusty Canon S95 with him, and left his Nikon at the campsite for those atmospheric pre-coffee morning shots that rarely work. And even in Patagonia, most of them still didn’t.
Here, he takes us through some of his favourite shots which didn’t make it into the magazine – it’s hard to take bad photos in Patagonia, but nevertheless Barney did his best.
This was the first singletrack we were faced with on the first day. This is the bottom of the first descent; it’s steeper and more bermed further up, but it’s an extraordinary environment to ride a bike in. The old-men’s-beards covering the trees are even more substantial than this pic suggests. And yes, brown pow.
As memorable as the first two stages were, the final ‘transition’ back to the road was arguably even more so. Traversing wild meadows with no trail to follow is an extraordinary experience.
The first morning in the field (as it were) was impressively chilly, with quite the temperature inversion.
Seb Kemp wheelie-drops to flat off the back of a cart in front of a gnat-like line of bikers.
You need some meaty kit to get about in Patagonia; I make no bones about the fact that I have a soft spot for Jeeps.
A snake line of bikers; a barely detectable trail and an exquisite view on a glorious day. It wasn’t all dust – a lot of the riding was totally sublime.
The underground fire that raged in the area in the ‘twenties went on for either 5 or 25 years, depending on whom you ask. Either way, it had a profound affect on the local terrain that still startles today.
Yes, a similar shot found its way in the magazine, but this is one of the best places I’ve ever camped. A fascinating ramshackle barn, a meadow, a lake, some stunning views… the best descent of the day finished right. Here.
Ace photographers Sven Martin (at left) and Gary Perkins in rare ‘behind behind the lens behind the lens’ shot. Gary is clearly vigorously scratching Sven’s arm with his enormous hand.
Cedric Gracia is a man fond of a dramatic selfie or two. Or three. He’s a lovely chap with boundless enthusiasm for riding and (sorry for the cliche) life.
Here he scopes a comedy line…
…which he promptly rides. Literally *everyone* else bottled this one.
Those 4x4s aren’t for show. We were being bounced around on one particularly gnarly double track when one of the American journo’s asked the girl driving if they ever had US off-roaders out here on holiday. She seemed a little non-plussed by the question. “Out here, this is just called driving” she replied.
And to finish off, this is the final view of the trip taken on my little pocket camera just before the last (amazing) descent. Fifty mph winds not pictured, but the photo hardly does the 360 degree view justice. It really is an astonishing place I’d love to return to.