Wow! Today was a really long day. a lot longer than previous years. We started at 5:15 am (which would be 3:15 pacific time). There was a long neutral start but that didn´t stop people from crashing. i saw a couple of people going off the road. After the paved neutral start we turned off on to a dirt road which was really similar grade and length as Kennedy, so that was fun. After that we had about a 3 hr section with peanut butter mud. On and off the bike the entire time, it was really slick and some sections were hard to hike. I didn´t feel like I was having a really good race at this point. My neck was bugging me, by camelbak felt uncomfortable, and I felt like I was pretty slow. I was pretty sure I was in first place for the women, but it was hard to know for sure since my spanish is pretty lacking. At some point a local yelled something about 4 minutes and later someone else said 8 minutes, I have no idea what that meant, since I never passed anyone. Maybe they meant I was ahead by that much, I have no idea.
After the peanut butter section there was an awesome roadclimb for about an hour. At this point by camelbak was a little lighter, and after I turned my head and my neck made this really loud cracking sound, it felt much better... sounds healthy. The climb was really fun because I passed a ton of guys. Every time I passed a guy they did a double take and started pedalling like crazy for about 20 seconds. Guess the latino men don´t like being beat by a girl.
There were a couple of slow muddy climbs after the paved one. At this point it was raining a little bit, but it felt really good. I though I had a decent second part of the day, but I ended up in 70th place at 8hrs 30 minutes which was WAY behind the male winner who came in right under 6 hrs!!! AMAZING. For the first time there is a non costa rican leader. There are some really fast guys here this year. I´m not sure how far behind me the second woman was, I sat around the finish line for about 30 minutes and then I had to go EAT.
to be continued....
So on day 2 the race started in down town San Jose. Although it was a controlled start again there were 2 pretty major crashes. One because of a pothole the size of a car in the road and anothere one because somehow a car had gotten into the middle of the field and was just sitting there.
the race starts climbing up the vulcano Irazu and although there are a few small decents it pretty much climbs up to 10,400 feet. it took me 3 hrs 35 min to get all the way to the top. I was pretty happy, because that was 10 minutes faster than last year.
There is a long rocky descent and I actually had to get off my bike and walk on a couple of sections because I couldn´t keep my momentum going when the rocks were too big and sharp. there is still some climbing to do before the finish in Turrialba. I ended up in 1st place again, with 65th place amongst the men. Today a Costa Rican man won and Thomas Frischknekt got 4th.
In La Ruta the racing is only part of the adventure. Trying to get back to the hotel, and actually hoping that you are assigned to that hotel can be an adventure in itself. I didn´t feel like waiting around for 3 hrs for the shuttle, so myself and 2 canadian guys asked a local guy if he would take us in to the town. I was so scared. The "road" was like a fire road but with more pot holes, and the guy was FLYING in the pouring rain. In town the road was asphalt and I was sure we were going to hydroplane, but we made it safely!!
On day 3 no one knew exactly when the race was going to start or when the bus was picking us up from the hotel, but breakfast started at 5:15. When we got to the race start it was already hot! The race finally took off at 7:45, which was 45 minutes later than they told us when we got there!! Pretty funny! They also told us that a train had fallen off one of the bridges we were supposed to cross, so last night they had to reroute the course and add 40 km of pavement to go around the broken bridge.
We stared with 3 pretty steep climbs. My legs were really tired, so I decided to be a little conservative. There was one Costa Rican woman in front of me. I could see her on the climbs, but was hoping to catch her. After the last STEEP HOT gravel climb there is a
paved downhill of about 15 k and then the FLAT roadsection began. I was able to get in a group with 8 Costa Rican men and Dan Badger (check spelling) who rides for the adventure team Subaru. I thought this would be perfect. Dan and I tried starting a paceline, but no one wanted to work. As soon as someone else got up front, they sat up, slowed down and rode 3 people across in front of me. then they pointed to the left so Dan and I thought we should turn. As we slowed down to look for a green arrow, 3 of the guys sprinted and took off. We finally realized they were trying to slow us down, so I couldn´t catch the Tica woman!!!
Dan and I pulled away from the rest of the group, and then it was just us two taking turns pulling for about 40 K. It was so hard, but kind of fun. With 20 K to go, the race got back on the original course where we rode on the bumby railroad tracks and then along the carribean ocean. The race ended right on the beach. I wasn´t too far behind the Costa Rican woman, so I ended up in first by close to an hour. The CR girl was so happy to win todays stage that she was crying! It was pretty cool! Guess this means I have to train even harder for next year :-) Thomas Frischkneckt was appearantly working together with 2 Costa Ricans and Jeremia Bishop and ended up 2nd in this stage and 1st overall. Very impressive. My times were 8.32, 5.32 and 5.57 for the 3 stages.