A few months ago, our Instagram feeds were probably all filled with dusty images of riders in Chile, riding and racing the Andes Pacifico event and other local trails. Never ones to pass up a good time, Santa Cruz Bicycles sent videographer Sam Needham and photographer Adrian Marcoux to South America with a few of their athletes to have some fun and capture some footage outside the ribbon.
During the trip, Josh “Loosedog” Lewis, Iago Garay, Mitch Ropelato and Romain Paulhan spent several days riding and having what looks like way too much fun. From riding volcanoes to drifting corners and having dance parties, this crew of dirt delinquents are going to help keep us entertained in this time of quarantine.
NAME: Josh Lewis Aka Loosedog AGE: 26 WEIGHT: 158lbs
BIKE OF CHOICE: For this trip it was the Bronson. He loves a good scrap.
SUSPENSION AIR PRESSURE: Think I had about 100psi in the forks with three tokens and I’ve lost track of the rear to be exact. The horse sits at about 25% sag.
TOP 3 SONGS/BANDS: Right now its Maribou State / Burna Boy / Headie One
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR RIDING STYLE? Josh Lewis: Of late it’s deffo been bmx that’s inspired my riding. The way I look for spots and trying stuff sometimes a hundred times. But this trip in Chile we were just charging going fast and taking advantage of the “surfy” dirt. Some spots were crazy, like you could slash and turn whereever you wanted. I was coming off the back of my first ski trip, which I’d say was perfect preparation because riding down those volcanoes at speed sliding round really didn’t feel dissimilar to carving pistes in the snow.
THE BEST FEELING ON YOUR BIKE IS WHEN… JL: You’ve taken it too far but get away with it. You feel your back wheel go past that point of comfort in a slide and she snaps back instead of going the other way, ha ha.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TRIP? JL: The whole thing was honestly a pleasure, but I remember nearly wetting myself getting stuck on some snow trying to push up it instead of taking the long route round. Paulhette flew up it and gave me false confidence thinking I would stroll up it with the same finesse and I was so very wrong. As ever the case… Paulhette has a knack for making stuff look easier and more effortless than it actually is. I was stuck on that patch of snow for quite some time, getting somewhere then sliding right back down to the bottom…each time making me laugh harder and making my body more floppy.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOUR FANS PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU? JL: I was an electrician from 17 – 22 years old before taking the risk to try and ride full time using the little bits of money I strung together. Eventually it resulted in getting the opportunity to ride as my job and get 50to01 going properly. I was shotting mudguards and tees on my lunch breaks towards the end of the electrical career. I wouldn’t change a thing though.
HOW MANY TIRES DID YOU GO THROUGH ON THIS TRIP? JL: Had the same DD’s on the whole time. I put some freshies on for the Andes race though.
IF EACH RIDER IN THIS CREW COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? NAME THE RIDER AND HIS POWER: Mitch, He would turn his hand guards into wings and fly. Paulhette, Pretty sure he already has the power to hike up things fast as fuck so his second power would be to speak without speaking in true silent assassin style. Iago, I’d give Iago the power of levitation so he can float ‘round just constantly doing his enduro tweak.
SUSPENSION AIR PRESSURE: Fork 76psi, Shock 165psi.
TOP 3 SONGS/BANDS: IG: It changes all the time, but right now: “Phil Collins” – Sussudio “Chicago” – 25 or 6 to 4 “Distress Signal” – Horizon
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR RIDING STYLE? IG: I grew up in the golden era of Downhill in Spain. We had a lot of good riders and they were precise and smooth, so I’ve always wanted to be like them, smooth. I also always appreciated stylish riders, so I try my best to go down the hill fast, smooth and with style.
THE BEST FEELING ON YOUR BIKE IS WHEN… IG: You get to ride a sick new trail with hero dirt, your friends and in Chile after three days of traveling.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TRIP? IG: There are so many it is hard to pick one, but When Loosedog tried to ride a very unique black sand bank in Nevados and crashed fully diving into it and ending up with dirt in his teeth was up there.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOUR FANS PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU? IG: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in sports and physical education.
HOW MANY TIRES DID YOU GO THROUGH ON THIS TRIP? IG: I had the same two Maxxis tires for the whole trip.
IF EACH RIDER IN THIS CREW COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? NAME THE RIDER AND HIS POWER: Mitch, Being able to film videos without having to hike back up. Loosedog, Rolling Rs Paulhette, He doesn’t need one. He is already a superhero.
NAME: Mitch Ropelato AGE: 20-something. I lost count. WEIGHT: 165lbs
BIKE OF CHOICE: Megatower
SUSPENSION AIR PRESSURE: 90psi??
TOP 3 SONGS/BANDS: “Moment of Truth” by Gang Starr “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John “West Coast” by Lana Del Rey.
I could listen to those three on repeat every day, no problem.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR RIDING STYLE? Mitch Ropelato: I always loved watching Jeremy Mcgrath, James Stewart and Mike Aitken. I knew if I could harness half of they’re style and grace I could get hell yeah every now and again.
THE BEST FEELING ON YOUR BIKE IS WHEN… MR: You do something that you didn’t think was possible. The satisfaction you get from that is the best feeling.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TRIP? MR: I didn’t get to experience much after the first day of filming because of an inner ear infection, but loose doggy had me laughing 99% of the time.
What is something your fans probably don’t know about you? MR: Well back in 2016, before I signed for Santa Cruz, I almost quit racing bikes to go start my training to be a chef. I did a six-month class just to see what I thought of it. It didn’t take long for me to realize it’s just like biking – to be the best, you need to be dedicated to your craft. I decided that I couldn’t give up that much of my time away from my bike. I’d still love to go work in a sick kitchen for a year or two though, even if I was just a dishwasher. It’s amazing to watch a good chef at work.
HOW MANY TIRES DID YOU GO THROUGH ON THIS TRIP? MR: The dirt in Huilo Huilo was this unreal perfectly watered loam so I barely put a wear mark on my first set.
IF EACH RIDER IN THIS CREW COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? NAME THE RIDER AND HIS POWER: MR: Romain is Anti-Gravity Guy or, Silent Assassin. When he rides, the way he moves his bike looks like he’s floating above the ground; it’s so smooth and fluid. This was the first time I’d been able to see Romain ride outside of a race weekend also.
Loose Dog is Comic Relief Guy. Always making sure everyone is laughing and smiling.
Iago is the Time Keeper Guy. If there’s a schedule, he is making sure things are going the way they need to.
All of their superpowers played an important role in making this video happen.
NAME: Romain Paulhan AKA “Paulhette” AGE: 31 years old WEIGHT: 170lbs
BIKE OF CHOICE: Bronson CC
SUSPENSION AIR PRESSURE: It depends on the spot. The ground here in Chile was harder than the loam back home so I put 90psi in my Rock Shox Lyrik with one token, and 155psi in my Rock Shox Super Deluxe shock, with three tokens.
TOP 3 SONGS/BANDS RP: Hard to choose but I’d say, Queen, The Beatles & Georges Brassens.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR RIDING: RP: Enduro Moto and Dirt jumping always inspired my riding. Fluidity, creativity, amplitude is what I’m trying to aim for.
THE BEST FEELING ON YOUR BIKE IS WHEN… RP: My best feeling on the bike is when the dirt is loam, a bit muddy and you can feel the dirt coming up on your back when you brake. You see your friend’s foot out, flat out, corner after corner in front of you, this is the best feeling! However, experiencing the deep dust in South America was incredible too. There are no other places when you can ride such incredible terrain and have that feeling on the bike. Reminds me of skiing!
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TRIP? RP: The funniest memory of the trip! Oooh, dude, it’s hard to pick one, I really laughed hard when “Old Loosedog” couldn’t manage to climb up the snowy slope. He couldn’t stop laughing, which made it even harder and funnier. He slid down to the bottom like two or three times before making it to the top, ah ah, sacré Chien fou! His laugher is so communicative!
Another funny part was when Mitch was joking about Euro racers wearing knee pads on the ankle and helmet’s foams under goggle strap on the way up during an enduro race. “Too enduro bro.” He was pretty upset about it; I mean what’s wrong with that!?
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOUR FANS PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU? RP: Oh man, I don’t know if I have many fans! Ha ha. Well, besides my close friends, not many people know about my passion for baking bread and pastries! It can sound a bit cliché for a Frenchman, but one of my next goals could be to open my own bakery!
HOW MANY TIRES DID YOU GO THROUGH ON THIS TRIP? RP: I only put a fresh tire on for the Andes Pacifico race! There is not much grip to wear tires out over there. You better train your head to be ready for some sketchy moments.
IF EACH RIDER IN THIS CREW COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? NAME THE RIDER AND HIS POWER: RP: Iago has power to fly to the moon on each little take off like a little squirrel.
Loosedog embodies infinite perseverance, he never gives up.
Mitch defies the laws of gravity. He does things on his bike that seem impossible and somehow it works.
What a crazy experience shared with the boys, thanks again Santa Cruz for the opportunity for such an incredible trip