A Story about La Ruta

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 2 is probably steeper then M-ount Everest. I road hard staying in 13th place, just behind the lead group of 12. Decending down the back side of Everest I caught up to 3 riders including Bishop who had took a wrong turn. Riding with Bishop we caught up to a Costa Rican taking a feed from his car and holding on for an extra ride. A little after he took some pills from the car. With the race organizers stating that anyone receiveing help outside the feedzones would be disqualified Bishop and I reminded the Tico of this and he had a spaz attack and began riding into Bishop. Bishop told the guy if he ran into him again that they were going to get off there bikes. The next 10 minutes included being run off the road into a front yard, having gum spat at us, being called ass holes by 5 guys supporting the rider and finally Bishop sprinting off to get away from the unright Tico. A little after I was gaining on my friend before he took a short cut. At the finish line there was a confrontation as I wanted to jersey the guy but his support crew stepped in and his sister sweet talked me out of it.

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.

Day 4 is a day for the diesel engines. With my legs coming around I managed to get over the first two climbs of the day with the leaders and was stoked to get down to the flatlands to give some payback to the climbers for making me suffer for 3 days. Unfortunately I bent my front derralure on a fall and then proceeded to crank my chain around my crank and bending a link on the chain. The next 30 minutes included 2 broken chains, a ripped off front derrailur and a bent rear derrailure. I was soon back in the 40´s riding a 3 speed. I caught riders for a while but then a Tico sped by me motor pacing behind his support vehicle and I got rattled. This wasn´t proper racing so I changed tactics on the day and slowed down to help American Louis Kobin. Louis was in 2nd overall in the womans gc and needed to gain 5 minutes on the Costa Rican that was winning the race. Apparantly the Costa Rican had two male riders helping her and a support scooter throughout the race. After my experiences at La Ruta over 3 yrs I decided it was time for a whitie to get some help and let Kobin draft off me for 80 km to the finish. She was riding well on the day and may have taken over the lead anyways but this way she won by over 23 minutes.

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.

5 Comments on “A Story about La Ruta”

  • Alexey November 18th, 2009 4:09 pm

    Cory, great job, congratulations! I'm starting to think seriously about La Ruta for the next year.

  • Ronald J November 18th, 2009 7:42 pm

    Hello Budy

    Good story! and good lucjk in Panama , please let me know when you are coming back to Costa Rica , maybe for some triple xxx rides , near from my house.

    take care

  • cory smith November 23rd, 2009 1:54 pm

    Good job man!Nice talking with you at the race.

  • The Squamish Dude November 23rd, 2009 8:44 pm

    A good read, made me feel like I was there…right on!

  • BikingBakke November 24th, 2009 12:55 am

    Cory, I followed the news and totally missed participating this year in La Ruta… oh well, will be back.

    By the way, if there was anyone going to pull a shirt over a tico's head for a good ol' canadian salute, I think you're the man for the job… considering it's such an international experience.

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