If you’re looking for an eco-friendly adventure that will take your breath away, and leave you breathless, look no further than La Ruta de Los Conquistadores ("The Route of the Conquerors") in Costa Rica.
The countdown to this year's La Ruta, billed as the toughest race in the world, is on. Not for the faint of heart nor for novice bikers, this three-day race is the original multi-stage, fat-tire mountain bike race that draws hundreds of the world’s best athletes to Costa Rica for a unique outdoors experience and a grueling test of endurance.
Crossing a flooded road on La Ruta — Photo courtesy of La Ruta de los Conquistadores
In the only race to traverse the American land mass from coast to coast, La Ruta crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean, retracing paths taken by the Spanish Conquerors led by Juan De Cavallón in the 17th century. In those days, the terrain was so dense that it took 20 years to cross the country from coast to coast, but today’s most ambitious trail blazers do it in three days.
Conceived as an effort to raise awareness about the importance of conserving the environment, La Ruta snakes its way through 12 micro-climates and covers 161 miles of Costa Rica. Bikers travel over five mountain ranges, climbing a cumulative 29,000 feet and make their way through every possible riding surface and condition, including suspended bridges, knee-deep mud and fire-road trails.
During the race, riders experience dramatic weather changes, from torrential rains to scorching heat, and pass active volcanoes, jungles, rain forests, farms and coffee fields along the way.
La Ruta begins on the Pacific coast in Jacó, then rises steeply to pass through the Carara nature reserve, where poison dart frogs and scarlet macaws are among the creatures you may see.
On the third and final day, La Ruta winds through the mountains and descends onto the Caribbean coast, where the race culminates on Playa Bonita in Limon.
La Ruta takes place November 6-8, 2014. It's not too late to start training and take part in the 22nd edition of this one-of-a-kind race.
Registration for an individual is $1650 (companions $1350 each), which includes three-day race entrance, breakfast and lunch, lodging for two nights (double occupancy), transportation to hotels and support throughout the race. Seniors over 50 get a $50 discount.
More information is available on the official race website.