Costa Rica UCI Marathon- Trans Costa Rica

Popping down to Costa Rica after the Whiskey 50 in Arizona was a bit of a homecoming after having spent so much time in the country from 2007-2015.  My buddy, Paulo Valle, who is the Kona Rep down here picked me up at the airport and off into the Latino culture we went.  The first stop was at the Chiropractor to try and get my back sorted out as it locked up good at the Whiskey 50.  Paulo dropped me off at his guy and I got cracked like never before.  At one point the Chiro yanked as hard as he could on my head pulling my spine straight, probably lengthening it a good couple inches.   The next two days I was pretty sore but my body felt back in tune. Next up we took off on a couple rides to acclimatize in the tropical environment.  One day on the roads of the central valley and another day on some rad jungle single track up in the mountains.  The trails down here are rad as they are basically tunnels through the jungle foliage which is very similar to Jurassic Park.

After a couple chill days up in the mountains, Paulo dropped me off back in San Jose to join 8 other Pro riders from Europe and Columbia that Dax Jaikel and the Trans Costa Rica had invited down to race.  They have us set up in a small boutique hotel with chefs, support staff, and a masseuse for two weeks as we prepare for one of the Americas premier stage races, the 4 day UCI Trans Costa Rica from May 9-12.  We’ve been treated like royalty and can’t say enough about how much this group from the Trans Costa Rica is doing for the state of mountain biking in there country. 

This past Saturday we drove down to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast to take part in the Copa Endurance UCI Marathon series in a very hot a humid part of the country. Dax and the TransCosta Rica team organized the trip and had us staying in some sweet lodges in the jungle the night before the race.  This was the real Costa Rica that we all dream about as we all shifted into tourist mode for the night. For dinner we dined on Casados, Costa Rica’s typical food consisting of rice, beans, salad, plantains and either fish or chicken.  Race morning came early and soon we were at the start line with nearly 400 racers to tackle a fast 82 km course on some Paris Roubaix style roads with lots of cobbles and some rolling hills.  

It was a road race on mountain bikes as the large lead group slowly dwindled from the hundreds down to around 25 as we hit the final 35 km of the course which included some nasty short climbs.  The weather had been tolerable for the first half of the race but now the sun was scorching down and the max humidity had us all dripping like leaky faucets.  After a rough Whiskey 50 it was a pleasant surprise to be riding without back pain and the legs were firing surprisingly well for one of the first race efforts after a huge winter of dieseling around the Himalayas. The race was getting tough though as riders started attacking every steep climb, which came at us one after another like a series of max effort intervals.   Every descent we’d try to recover the best we could for 20-30 seconds before sprinting up the next wall.  This is the pain cave we racers live for although the first session of these efforts every year is damn tough!  

The lead group eventually dwindled down to 15 riders when a couple Ticos ahead of me overshot a corner, leading myself astray into the ditch. Luckily I kept the bike (Kona Honzo) upright but had to scramble back up to the road losing the lead group.  Chasing hard the gap came from 20-10 seconds but then sat there for quite a while as I was at the limit with no more gears in the legs.  Then came a tough decision as I came around the corner to a feedzone with 25 km to go.  Out of water I knew I should stop but it would also end my chances of catching back to the lead group.  Thus I aborted the effort to find water and sprinted hard to latch onto the leaders.

 

Once there my buddy Ole from Norway gave me a sip of his water but in the back of my head I new I had just made a kamikaze move as I was already dehydrated and racing another 45 minutes plus in the 37 degree jungle heat wasn’t going to end well without H2O.  I was a ticking time bomb and 5 km later my race in the lead group came to and end as my fuse ran out.  With 15 km to go the challenge was now to get to the finishline before any of the 380 racers behind me caught back up.  A couple Ticos from the 7C team did catch me and we would roll into together for #’s 10,11 and 12 on the day.  It was a rough last few km but having some company helped ease the pain of riding through some intense dehydration.  To save the day, Frans one of the support staff from 7C got me an ice cold bottle of water from his motorbike which was engulfed in 1 sip and helped ease the rough trudge to the finish.  It was weird as the body went from sweating profusely to nothing, and then to goose bumps.  It probably wasn’t a good sign but thankfully the race wasn’t crazy long.

All in all it was a pretty rad experience to race so hard through such a unforgiving environment in Costa Rica.  It was shocking how quickly the body went from feeling fine to barely surviving. Apparently the jungle environment isn’t very kind to a Canadian who’s used to riding around in the frozen mountains of Nepal and Canada!

After the race we got even more dehydrated as we tried to each lunch in the open air hotel dining room.  I went through two t-shirts and probably 3 litres of water while trying to get in some recovery calories.  Eventually we made the escape to a AC filled car as I joined my co patriot from Canada, Mathiue on the drive back over the volcanos to our base camp in San Jose.  The day after the race, Mathiue, Ole and I decided to treat ourselves to a 4 hour trail ride in one of Costa Rica’s mountain bike parks in Ciudad Colon.  It was rad, but left us dehydrated again and in need of a couple rest days. 

 

After 2 days of rest we are rehydrated and ready for Tommorow as we start the big one at the Trans Costa Rica!  Go go climbing legs 🙂

 

Pura Vida!   

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