Wednesday, November 21, 2007

La Ruta Day 1

Day one is the hardest day. It has the most elevation gain and is the 2nd longest day. It also has the most mud. More on the mud later.

3 AM comes early and I try and swallow some breakfast but it isn't working too well. At least the coffee is nice and strong and so good. It's already hot and humid even this early and I know I'm in for a rough day. I fill a baggie up with endurolytes and top off my camelbak and get in line to get my bike.

Getting your bike every morning is an adventure. Basically they just toss them all into a tent in random order and it's up to you to find it. You may get lucky and it's on top of the pile or not. I eventually find mine and see that the front brake hose has come off the sticky thing that was holding it on and i don't have a zip time. Shit! It's only 10 minutes to the start. I see the Cannondale mechanic getting Tinker Juarez's bike ready and I go over to beg for a zip tie and he hooks me up. How cool is that?

I get my brake fix and get in another long line to get checked into the start chute. I can see one of the theme's of this race is hurry up and wait. I finally get into the chute and I'm crammed in with 600 other racers. There are fireworks and and music but I'm too nervous to watch any of it.

We roll out of the chute at 5:10 AM and I start off at a casual pace because we are about to do some serious climbing.

Well we hit the first hill and it doesn't disappoint. I'm getting off and walking a lot and for the first time I'm a little worried that I might be in over my head. I push those thoughs aside and continue to grind up the hill. Eventually we reach the top and we are riding in the clouds. We also go through our first little town. All the people come out and cheer for you. Especially the school kids. It's a cool feeling.

More rolling stuff and then we hit the mud. This mud is unbelievable. It's basically clay and trudge through it forever. At each stream crossing guys are washing off their bikes to get them working again. I'm secretly happy I had my singlespeed but I'm not totally immune. I have to stop and scrape the mud that build s up between my wheels and stays because they stop rolling after awhile. The mud seems to go on forever but eventually we start climbing out of it. However, the hill we are going up is long and steep and I'm starting to feel it. The sun is out and it's hot. I really crack on this thing and I start thinking I'm not going to make it again. Once again I push aside the negative thoughts and continue up the hill. Finally reach the top and I recover on the nice downhill.

The major climb of the day is about 10 miles. It's not a bad grade but it takes forever to get up, almost 2 hours. To make matters worse they are doing road construction about half way up. So not only are we struggling up this hill we have to ride on this sticky tar for about a mile. It smells and it is hot. It was so miserable :) It was so bizarre I found myself laughing.

Getting close to the end I catch up to Sean. He ran into some problems with cramping and running out of food so I load him up with whatever I have left and we take it casual into the finish. I roll in at just under 10 hours, 14,000 feet of climbing in 60 some miles. Pretty stuff stage. I take a cold shower and we head back to the hotel in time for happy hour. I hope my legs still work for tomorrow.

Typical Costa Rican Road. Never mind the water :)



This is the mud :(



Bike Wash station



Check Point in a small town



One of many amazing views

1 comment:

tarheeltri said...

Hey Kev!

Great meeting you a La Ruta and thanks for all your help with my bike! Let me know your race schedule or if you're ever down in NC!

Joe