If you think you’ve pushed your athletic boundaries, try La Ruta de los Conquistadores–Costa Rica’s extreme 4-day bike race and one of the world’s most hardcore races ever established.
This extreme sport isn’t for the faint-hearted and the approximately 250 participants who come in every year from all parts of the globe have the same testament. For the last 19 years, this bike race has pushed each cyclist to their limit not only for the price of $15,000 but the glory and honor of conquering the entire 240-mile route across 5 mountain ranges.
It started off with three Spanish conquistadors led by Juan Caballon in the 1540’s. They braved their way from the Pacific Coast all the way to the Caribbean in a span of 20 years and because of this, they found a shortcut between these two regions. Of course at this modern age, it won’t take you that long to get you from one region to another.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores took inspiration from this historical journey and from then on, professional riders from around the world join in the most intense hike-and-bike experience of a lifetime.
The Stages of La Ruta de los Conquistadores
Stage One- The starting point of the race is at Playa Jaco on the Pacific Coast. The first few minutes are a smooth ride but it won’t be long until the riders feel the ruthless roads, muddy terrains and a lot of river crossings as well as an ascent of 4,400m. From Jaco, they take their way to Ciudad Colon all the way Carara where a lot of howler monkeys live.
This first stage is about 100 km and the time limits is 12.5 hours. It’s reported that 20% of the riders don’t get past this point.
Stage Two-This stage is about 75 km and the time limit is 10.5 hours. They will be passing through the rainforests of Ciudad Colon to Tres Rios consisting of 20% gradient roads and very steep climbs. Technical descents along coffee plantations are the challenge in this stage.
Stage Three- This is where the high point of the race is at 67 km from Tres Rios to Turrialba. Riders will be climbing the Irazu Volcano. Although there’s less mud in this area, the rains are heavy and the mist is almost breath-taking come the descent. This stage is timed for only 10.5 hours as well.
Stage Four- This 125 km terrain may be the longest but it’s actually the easiest. The race ends at Bonita Beach but it doesn’t ends as easy because of the challenging train tracks and the almost bone-breaking weather drains the energy out of all the participants.
A monumental point anticipated in La Ruta de los Conquistadores is when the riders come tumbling down their bikes and kiss the sands of Bonita Beach, truly feeling like the conquistadors who first dared to cross the regions of this diverse country.
The next race is about to begin on the 2nd of November so if you’re one to dare yourself for this race, you better come prepared for the almost impassable paths, river crossings, muddy trails, rocky roads, mountain terrains and elevations of different heights with up to 39,000 cumulative climb of this ever-surprising coastal country. Moreover, be ready to get soaked in rain, dried in high sun and freezing in high points of the race.
From the International Airport of San Jose, it’s only a short 2-hour drive to get to Playa Jaco. Considering you’ll be entering a bike race, might as well ride your bicycles to get you to the starting point of the race.
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