Stage 9- Cerro de la Muerta (Mountain of Death)

Every year the Vuelta de Cost Rica shuts down the Pan American highway from San Jose to Perez Zeledon and us riders get treated to riding over the Mountain of Death, both ways 🙂  It is a legendary ride taking us over the highest point on the pan american highway from Alaska to Argentina as it edges the rainforests of Chirripo National Park.Cerro-de-la-muerte

The day started with a hard climb out of downtown San Jose as the leaders fought for position leading into the Cerro de la Muerta climb starting 20 km into the race at 1 300 meters.  From here the 90 rider peloton widdled down to 25-30 of us as we went up the first 8 km step of the mammoth climb topping out at 3 400 meters.  I went deep into the hurt locker and surprised myself sticking to all the pencil neck Latino climbers until finally coming unglued heading into the 2nd portion of the relentless climb.  From here I was in no mans land and peddled a lonely race for a while before slowly picking up more blown riders as the road hugged ridge tops and snaked its way to the top of Costa Rica.  The higher we road the more I was grinning as the temperatures started to drop into the low teens and felt more like home for my Canadian blood which has been been boiling since arriving down here.12371186_10153929277680676_3326440456280823847_o

As our group grew, so did the wining as a lot of the roadies here seem to be a bit delicate.  All they have to do is sit on and enjoy the draft, but instead they start exercising there mouth muscles anytime the pace is to high.  In mountain biking riders generally spend there energy pushing there peddles instead of there mouths and either keep up or drop off and ride there own pace.  I’m nor sure what the deal is with the guys down here thinking everyone should slow down and ride there pace when there not feeling good as thats not how a race works in my head.  Cowboy up…?

By the time we hit the top of the climb we had swelled to nearly 12 riders and had a nice alpine breeze to cool us down before hitting the 48 km non stop descent to the finish line in Perez Zeledon.  With the highway being closed down for the race this makes for one hell of a ride as the smooth highway twists down the mountainside through a dense jungle allowing us riders to take full width of the road.  Not really knowing the limits of my road bike and wanting to save the risks for later on in the race year when theres something on the line I kept it relatively sane and cruised down with a group of 4 other riders, still ripping between 50-90 km/hr for the next 45 minutes.  According to Strava we set the 2nd fastest recorded time down the descent, although many of the riders in the race were going faster then us today as they went into alien like tucks risking there lives to gain a few seconds.  The descent was challenging just to stay focused and to fight off cramping muscles as we hung onto our handlebars ripping down the endless road.  Crossing the finish line to a big crowd was a stellar way to end one of the top rides of the year for sure.  Tomorrow we get to turn our bikes around and do it all over again backwards 🙂  I’ll be packing ear plugs and setting the pace high in my group.1075579_10153155736381193_5460583624047577844_o-2


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