Here is my race report that I posted in my FB page about my first La Ruta try. I didn't check it for grammar or spelling composed it at a bar during a long layover. Thought y'all might enjoy the read.
Stage 1. This day was long, muddy and hard as hell where we climb a total of 12,000'. We started with a cool roll out in Jaco on the beach with music, helicopters and hundreds of crazed ticos cheering us on.
It didn't last long. Almost immediately we started climbing these impossibly steep never ending climbs off and on for hours.
Then we entered the jungle. This was a crazy section where we basically hiked up and down these narrow knee deep muddy sectors for over two hours (for me) Crossed several creeks and streams. It was so muddy and steep, every step was like walking on ice uphill with my bike. I came upon this support motorcycle stuck in the thick peanut butter mud. A group of ticos had tied the handlebars to a mule or horse looking thingy trying to get it unstuck. Someone posted a pic of a boa constrictor on the trail but I missed that. After the jungle,
we popped out on another gravel road where we started climbing again.
Then it started to rain heavily which was expected. It was hot so ok. Basically we climbed the crazy 25-35% grades for hours until crossing the finish line in a little over 8 hours. Stage 1 completed and I was well within the 11:30 cut off time! They call this the make it or brake it day. If you don't finish this stage in 11:30 hours, your out of the race.
Stage 2. This day sucked! We started out if the gate straight up the volcano. I can't describe the terrain of the road/trail/cow/goat path up the volcano except that it was straight up with 30%++ grades. At one point, we hit a section where you had to ride on a one foot wide concrete slippery moss covered slab straight up. After about two hours of climbing and hike-a-bike, we came to a "bonus" section as Roman (the race director) likes to call it. Another 2k of super steep climbing. Near the top of the bonus section were a bunch of ticos with cow bells cheering us on and pushing those that could ride this section up to the gravel road where another climb began. I had been hiking on and off until I spotted ticos of all ages. At this point, I jumped back on my bike and peddled most of the way up until an excited tico started pushing me basically all the way up. It was cool! I felt like Chipollini on Brasstown Bald during the Tour de Georgia!
Anyway that was short lived as the rest of the climbing sucked. I couldn't get into a rhythm and suffered all the way up to 10,000' where the air was thin. Then the hard part began. The highly technical decent where we dropped 8,000' in just a few miles. This mountain "road" was an indescribable road/trail/cow/goat path comprised of softball to basketball size boulders I had to navigate down. This section was so steep, the support crew motorcycles and Land Rovers couldn't follow.
Here in the south we like our corn on the cob so I took it as easy as I could and walked a lot. As a treat, there were huge cows eating grass and shitting all over the f@&$ing path all the way down. Not to mention they were standing right there on the path! Loose! I lost considerable time this stage. I think I was 6:15 or so. Well within the cutoff, unscathed and can still enjoy corn on the cobb next summer.
This was a great day! We started with some climbing and rolling terrain until we hit a long steep loose gravel road that took forever. Ticos were at various places on the climb offering to pour water over your head and back which I gladly accepted. It was very hot and humid. Most of the climbing was in the first 3rd of the 75 mile stage. My Garmin had 4300' of climbing at mile 40. Then it was mostly flat and fast. Well until the rail road track section. The section where we had to dismount, set out bikes up between live rail road tracks and ride as fast as possible to maintain a paceline. This until we got to rail road bridge crossings. Here we had to walk in the middle of the tracks, 200' above crocodile infested rivers. The race organizers said these little villages were a little sketchy and recommended riding in packs rather than alone. Which seemed weird until, at each end if the RR bridges were heavily armed policeman carrying machine guns! I guess some rough tico could get crazy with all of the commotion.
We had about 20k of railroad ties and bridges off and on to cover before we hit the gravel road again. The last 10 miles was a sandy road that ran along the beach. It was hot and windy but cool to see the Caribbean.
I felt GREAT and pushed the pace. It was one of those "no chain" days! It was fun riding in an international pack! I think I was the only American. Most of the small pack of 8-10 crossed the line together at 5:25, high five'd and hugged each other as our mission was now complete.
We completed the La Ruta de Los conquistadores and are official finishers! From the pacific to the Caribbean through the jungles over volcanos , through small villages we blew through so fast I never looked up to see to the finish line on the beach.
It was some crazy shit man!
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