Cycling Race in Costa Rica Will Determine the World's Toughest Mountain Bike Rider

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La Ruta, a four-day mountain bike race held in Costa Rica that takes solo cyclists from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, was named by Time as one of the "Top 10 Endurance Competitions." On November 2, over 200 elite off-road cyclists from 25 countries will compete for the title as the "World's Toughest Mountain Bike Rider."

Early in the pre-dawn hours of November 2, two hundred and fifty cyclists from over twenty countries will begin the first leg of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which is a four-day mountain bike race held in Costa Rica that takes solo riders from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.

La Ruta is often called “the toughest mountain bike race in the world.” It’s easy to see why. Standing between both coasts are 240 miles of thick jungle, inactive volcanoes, unpaved farm roads, narrow trails, river crossings, and nearly 40,000 feet of endless climbing.

Now in is nineteenth year, La Ruta made Time magazine’s list of “Top 10 Endurance Competitions.” The only other bike race included on the 2010 list was the Tour de France.

The world’s top endurance cyclists will be competing in La Ruta to determine who is “the world’s toughest mountain bike rider.”

These elite mountain bikers include Ben Sontag (Germany) who won La Ruta in 2010 and will be riding for Team Factory Cannondale; Alex Grant (USA), who is the only American to ever come in second place twice and also will be riding for Team Factory Cannondale; Manny Prado (Costa Rica) who won in 2009; Todd Wells (USA), who won the Leadville 100 in August 2011 and will be riding for Team Specialized; Jason Sager (USA), a professional rider for Jamis, who has placed in the top ten at La Ruta; Milton Ramos (Spain), who placed first at the IRONBIKE Italy race; and Federico “Lico” Ramirez (Costa Rica), who is a five-time La Ruta winner.

Well-known bike coach, trainer and bestselling author Chris Carmichael (USA) is returning to La Ruta for a second time and he’s bringing a dozen Carmichael Training System riders with him.

“La Ruta is just such a spectacular event,” says Carmichael, 51, a former member of the U.S. National Cycling Team (1978-1984), who competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and was a member of the first 7-Eleven Cycling Team that competed in the 1986 Tour de France. After racing La Ruta in 2010, Carmichael declared it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done on two wheels, saying it was "like riding four back-to-back Leadville 100s."

“I am excited that La Ruta is once again fielding such a strong group or riders," says race director and founder Roman Urbina, who nurtured this event from its humble beginnings when only a few local Costa Rican cyclists were crazy or brave enough to follow the coast-to-coast route of the sixteenth century Spanish conquistadors. It took one of those early explorers, General Juan de Caballon, twenty years to lead a hundred men, horses, cannons and wagons from the Pacific to Atlantic. The modern-day conquistadores on their mountain bikes make the crossing in only four days.

Then again, all riders might want to heed Juan de Caballon centuries-old warning about the coast-to-coast crossing: "Os macha carna las piernas y nubara la mirada.” Translated: “It will break your legs and blur your vision.”

Registration is still open to participate in this year’s La Ruta.


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Roman Urbina

Monica McIntyre Zienkewicz
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