This past Sunday was the 2014 Cerro Abajo race – an annual downhill race that takes place in the hills of Valparaiso, put on by Red Bull (read more about it here). We had been looking forward to seeing it since we got here last June, having seen videos of it before, but seeing it in person was even cooler than we thought.
The day started out at about 11 AM with a BMX demo at Plaza Aníbal Pinto, where the finish line of the race was located.
It looks like this guy was just flung into the air and is about to crash to his death, but he is actually doing a backflip tailwhip, and he did land it.
Some racers relaxing at the bottom of the hill before the race.
After the demo ended we made our way up the hill to get to the starting line for the beginning of the race, and got a chance to check out some of the obstacles.
They used some shipping containers from the port (which there are plenty of) to create this obstacle.
A boy buying a completo (giant hot dog loaded with toppings including guacamole and mayonnaise) through one of the gates near the starting line.
The starting line was packed with people, who were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder behind of the fences blocking off the racing area, or perched up on top of a roof to get a good view.
After waiting a while the first racer burst from the start line, unannounced, and the crowd broke out into a roar of cheers.
I spotted a Chicago Deers fan amongst the crowd.
I secured a prime spot below the starting line while waiting for the next round of racers to come through, but the event staff kicked out all of the media from within the gates, so I had to move before I got any shots from here.
Some people had some prime views from the roofs and back yards of their homes that lined the race track.
I found a spot hanging over one of the fences that was rigged to the side of the stairs, which was already occupied by three or four other people, threatening to collapse.
Some of the crowd were actually getting in the racers faces, shouting at them to go faster, and stronger.
I’ve walked up and down these wooden steps before, and was worried they wouldn’t hold up with just me on them, so I was pretty shocked to see the racers flying down them without a care in the world.
A packed crowd waiting for racers to hit this wall ride, which was in repair at the moment.
This spot in the race had the bikers jumping from one street to another, over a crowd of people!
Another crowd waiting for another wave of racers.
Luckily I ran into a friend who had an extra media pass that he gave me before the start of the race, so I was able to get inside the gates to shoot. With some smooth talking I was able to secure a pass that gave me access to all of the Canon press pits, and access to this view from one of the sponsor areas.
Here are those shipping crates in action!
At the bottom of the hill a pack of racers wait to be taken back up to the starting line at the top.
Some of the crowds were dangerously crowded, and the threat of someone getting trampled seemed to be very real at times.
Lindsay and I found a good seat to wait at the finish line for more racers to come through.
Another Chicago Deers fan spotted in a large crowd.
A racer blast through the air to on his way to the finish line.
The event was really awesome, a lot of fun, and I highly recommend that if you are in Chile during next year’s race, you make it into Valparaiso to see it.
Here is a video recap from Red Bull: