When it was snowing and minus 10 in Canada La Ruta seemed like a good idea. While pushing my bike through gongshow mud for 1.5 hrs in plus 33 temps with humidity on day 1 with Costa Ricans sprinting pass me I began wondering why I thought this was such a good idea. Racing day 1 of La Ruta with improper training is about as smart as sticking a metal fork in a socket. I like sticking metal things in sockets though especially in Costa Rica. Midway through the day was a tour de france type climb for 22 km over a mtn. Ben Sonntag from Cannondale had some troubles in the mud as well and caught up to me half way up the climb. He probably had the 3rd best legs in the race this yr. I tried to keep up to him for 15 minutes, blew up for the 3rd time on the day, got passed by 4 more riders and was soon pretty much over the race and began looking for ice cream. Half way down the back side decent Rune Hoydahl ripped passed me asking “What are you doing”? “Looking for a ice cream I shamefully replied”. He shook his head and continued on his rampant decent. Having a World Cup downhill winner rip past you doesn´t happen often so I put my ice cream aspirations on hold and took to eating his dust. For the last 3 hrs of the day we road togethar. We made good riding partners as we were both suffering hardcore from being 165 lbs riders from snowbound countries trying to keep up to a bunch of freakish mountain goats. At one point we met a car head on and I was about 6 inches from being the rocketeer. Thankfully I am use to dodging two hundred pound defenceman and made a finesse move to the lefthand ditch. Hoydahl was impressed.
Day 3 Bishop ripped over the Volcano with Tinker and would get lost going down the decent and would eventualy finush 10 minutes behind a Tico that knew the way. I spent the day riding in 11th, 15 minutes behind the lead group and 15 minutes ahead of 12th place. On the decent I made it to 8th before disintegrating my back brake and eventually finishing 10th. Decending Costa Rican roads with brakes is sketchier than Guatemalan street food and without brakes its pretty much suicide as dogs, cars, kids, chickens and donkeys are all over the place. At the finish line I talked to Bishop to see how his day was. He responded “Great, I still have control in this uncontrollable environment. I knew coming in that racing down here was full of suprises and I´m just running the course.¨ Pretty solid words to come from a guy who had the legs to win the race but had mechanicals, route finding problems, and ticos trying to fight him.
In the end La Ruta is always a great adventure. I will probably be back for more but it will either be as a reporter as an end of season cool down or possibly with a support crew and proper training to try and even a few scores. For now it is off to Panama for spanish school so I can learn new trash talking words.