Monday, November 30, 2009
The race and trip went really well! It was all a real blur because of the back-to-back trips but the luggage gods were good to me, the flight was easy, and we had a good trip there. I will always wonder why the South Americans think 8 guys with bikes and luggage can all fit into one van....
But we got where we were going and were safe, despite the rain and
I'll tell the story as best I can and will start with a trip to the children's cancer hospital and then talk about gears.
The after we arrived we visited the San Jose Children’s Cancer Shelter. What can I say about this except it breaks your heart to pieces to know these wonderful children and their families suffer. But they still greeted us with laughter and smiles and we were so happy to be there. In 2010 we will be having a contest selling coffee and the contest winner will win a trip to Costa Rica to race in the La Ruta. The proceeds of the contest will be donated to the San Jose Children's Cancer Shelter. Keep checking the MonaVie-Cannondale website for the details and when we get it all together I will post here, too.
Now about the race. Before I left did not have time to get the bike ready. I was in Florida and got off the plane in the evening and got back on a plane to Costa Rica the next day. When I arrived in San Jose, I decided I needed a triple so Engin our team mechanic put it on for me and I used what we had - 22/32/44. I had a 29/42 and wanted a 22/29/42 but that combo wasn't an option. So Day 1 worked good with the 22 and I needed it. The other two were too tough for this race as the climbing is brutal but the Cannondale FLASH made it happen for me. What an awesome bike. I felt great climbing on the super light bike and worked the gears the best I could.
You can imagine Engin's delight when I asked him to change me back with the double - so for Day 2 I went back to the 29/42 double and it worked better but not perfect. Day 2 was as hard as the first day but I had bad luck and it got worse. I burned myself out the first day and was fried on day 2. Next year Sram is working on a special combo I plan to use for the race....
In the heat of the race I was descending a steep muddy decent and the gold crucifix necklace my mom gave me a few years ago that I never take off hooked on a branch and ripped off. I couldn't go back for it so I kept going. It was such a steep hill and at that point I was still in the front pack. But I couldn't shake the fact I left my crucifix on the hill and it broke my heart mostly because of the sentimental value and how much I rely on the power when I wear it. The race got worse when I took a bad line on another descent and ended up with a flat. I had a tough time getting the tire filled and rode with as much as I could put in. So for the rest of the race I rode on an almost flat tire praying I wouldn't pinch flat. And I still had around 10 miles to go.
Day 2 kept getting worse. I was riding by myself, worried about the tire, my lost crucifix, and trying to keep my 8th place, wondering how I could possibly focus on finishing. Well somehow I turned the wrong way and my tire eventually flatted completely. About an hour later I was just hoping I could find someone to help me get back. I found a race official and still had a long way to go, had no idea what place I was in, but I had a flat and I gave in for the day and got a ride back to the finish.
Days 3 and 4 were now just for fun as I was disqualified for the overall, but I was able to ride and decided to see how it would go. I was angry for the dq and knew I could finish well so I set my mind on it.
Day 3 was an amazing great day and I led the race for about half the race. Midway on the Irazu Volcano Jeremiah passed me but eventually I caught him and we rode together. It was raining a lot on day 3 but we were in front with the lead motorcycle. Well we got turned around a few times and lost about 10 minutes of time and Alex and Ben caught us. We all finished together to the end with a short sprint to the finish and I ended up 3rd but it didn't count. I can say for certain that this day was one of the best days racing with my teammates I can recall.
Day 4 was another fun day even though it rained the entire time. I rode with the lead group for most of the race until the train tracks. I was eventually a few miles from the end in 3rd place riding with Ben Bostrom and I flatted. I made a huge mistake and didn't have Stan's tubeless sealant and was running with a tube or I probably would have had a better chance. Also, unfortunately, I had left my seat bag with the crew and had no tools, extra tube, or anything to repair it. So I rode the last 3 miles with a flat but still finished well in 6th or 7th place. All in all, I felt good about the event and I think I could have had a great overall finish in top 5 if Day 2 hadn't been so aweful.
It was good to race against Roberto Heras, who usually races on the road. He was here this year to better his 8th place finish last year. What a nice guy and great rider. He was a big challenge in the single track and really good at the technical stuff. It was super impressive to see him do so well and I must admit I second guessed him at first. He had a good race and finished 9th overall in the open class. There were a few other road pros and retired road pros there, and it was excellent competition. It was really great to have them there.
One thing missing was the local Costa Rican contingency. I think the race would have had a different outcome as they are always very tough competitors. But Manny did so excellent and it was great to see him with the overall win.
Next year I plan on making this one of the most important races on my schedule. Luck, preparation, and focus is important in a race like this. And if Lance A shows up, it will be fun to race and see how we'd all do against each other in a race like this.
Thank you very very much to Román Urbina, the founder of the race and good friend. I owe a huge thank you to Engin and MonaVie-Cannondale, my teammates and especially Matt Ohran for everything. I look forward to next year.
God Bless Everyone,
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Just a quick note to wish everyone a great Thanksgiving and to tell you I will post a race story for La Ruta but we've been out of the house a lot lately. We were out at Puddingstone Lake in San Dimas since Wednesday and had a great time camping, fishing, and biking. Landed 2 of these giant catfish and one more big one but spent the last two days without much luck. Way too many got away!
Wife took these photos and noted Joshua is just as happy about his fish...
We did some fun rides, too. We love our Chariot!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
"It's been a very long day, but over, Thank God. I didn't do too bad today , but before the railroad track my seat bag was falling off and I had to hand it to the crew that was fliming the team, but that didn't get coordinated quite right when I ended up needing it. The last few miles looked very good since I didn't flat riding the train track, but with just 3 mi or so I was racing for 3 place and got a flat so I rode on the flat tire to the finish line since I didn't have a tube. I ended up with 8th place for the day and I think so I'm just happy I had 2 good days. It's late right now and I have to wake up at 4:30 am which means I'll be home to my wife and son who I miss very much!"
It has been a long season and we miss you very much, too, Tinker.
We wish a safe journey to all the athletes....
Stage 4 La Ruta de los Conquistadores
Colt From Cyclingdirt
November 14, 2009
As if the previous day wasn’t enough, the Caribbean weather opened its clouds and rain fell from the heavens all of last night and throughout the entire day.
Yet what for many might be terrible weather for some it means no more than a day at their hometown slopes with the cool water keeping them sane, or must we say insane?
Setting an amazing pace the compact leading group left the town of Turrialba towards the railroad tracks in the lowlands where one of the main highlights, besides riding on the tracks for over 50 kilometers were the railroad bridges over some of Costa Rica’s most ferocious rivers.
Special carts were created to transport some of the racers across the bridges, mainly those that were affected by vertigo.
The level of the rivers, high in volume roaring down from the many mountains forced the organization to detour the race to a new course which led racers nearly 20 kilometers on a parallel highway. Cars, buses and trucks were now also involved in the race, beeping as racers passed and taking pictures of the racers while they passed them along the way. An entire country participated on this event.
Flat tires, blown gear sets and broken rims were the seen all through this section.
At the end, Manuel Prado, a true conqueror and a humble man faithful to his roots shower the leg-power that brews on the mountains of Costa Rica.
Congratulations to Manuel Prado, Alex Grant, Deiber Esquivel, Louise Kobin, Adriana Rojas, Emma Smith and 219 racers from all over the world on the completion of this challenging event.
1 Deiber Esquivel 4:34:15
2 Benjamin Sonntag 0:00:17
3 Manuel Prado 0:02:46
4 Alex Grant 0:02:47
5 Carlos Abellan Ossenbach 0:04:53
6 Roberto Heras 0:11:10
7 Jeremiah Bishop 0:15:06
8 Luis Diego Sibaja 0:17:44
9 Bart Gillespie 0:17:45
10 Marc Traiter 0:22:04
11 Kris Janssens 0:29:30
12 Juan Ignacio Mendez 0:31:53
13 Alfredo Acosta Gonzalez 0:34:59
14 Alban Figueroa 0:35:50
15 Cory Wallace 0:37:56
16 Simon Tremblay 0:40:20
17 Esteban Pacheco Quiros 0:41:11
18 Brayan Alders 0:45:45
19 Eduard Hernandez Teixidor 0:58:38
20 Samuel De La Sotta 1:01:19
21 Oscar Marin Jimenez 1:06:55
22 Daniel Garcia Matamoros 1:11:13
23 Arnoldo Loaiza 1:14:52
24 Sebastian Conejo 1:29:55
1 Louise Kobin 5:13:00
2 Adriana Rojas 0:26:16
"Things went a lot better today, I led half race with most of the hardest parts and climbing up the volcanos. I took the lead early with at least 2 min lead. Bishop caught me at the top of the volcano. At one point I had a 5 min lead and kept trying to hold off the group behind me but they were working together. Bishop was the only rider to ride away from the group and he just caught me right at the very top. We were so glad we had our jackets and arm warmer. We started heading down hill and half way down there was a climb that was pretty long and almost near the end of the climb he started riding away. It was hard to get traction since I was just pounding over rocks on my Flash and his Scalpel cruised over them really easy! I looked back and two more rider were getting near me so I tried to go down hill fast, but this part of the down hill was really rocky so I went very easy. One guy broke his chain so now I was back in 3rd place and started riding faster, because the down hill was better for me. I got off the dirt and headed on a very fast road but it was raining and had to be very careful in all the tight twisty turns. Someone told me to turn right onto the dirt and as I was starting to climb. I looked back and there was Bishop, then another guy waved us to come back so we turn around got back on the road we just were on and went the direction that I was originally going. Now me and Bishop were flying down the wet rainy road following the guy on the motorcycle. We must have lost about 8 or 10 min but he finally showed us the right way. It was only 1 km away and two more of our team mate caught us and we all finish together with me crossing in 3 place.
I hope you can make since of what I wrote. sorry a little tired.
Tinker made up for his bad day on Stage 2 and finished tied with Ben for second place. However, due to Tinker's DNF in Stage 2, his time did not count for the overall. He is on a mission, however, following suite with the theme of the event - as a Conquistador.
Click these links:
Stage Three Video
Race Report by Colt www.cyclingdirt.org
Stage 3 La Ruta de los Conquistadores
Colt From Cyclingdirt
November 13, 2009
Monavie-Cannondale team worked their way up the volcanoes on Stage 3. Tinker Juarez did an outstanding climb towards the Irazú Volcano, he ascended like it was his last climb.
Jeremiah Bishop followed Juarez with a gap of close to 3 minutes along with Deiber Esquivel and Marc Trayter, both trying to break the trio apart and move upfront on the hunt for Tinker.
Manuel Prado fell back throughout the climb, he mentioned that this was nit his day and thanked the outstanding labor of his teammate Benjamin Bostrom did to give Prado enough leverage to make it to the finish line and stick to his overall leadership of the race.
The Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes, both covered with clouds, greeted racers with a cold and wet passage through the surrounding forests. Abandoned roads of rocky terrains at an angle inviting racers to fly head first down the slopes towards the town of Turrialba hosted a cold and extremely technical route.
Costa Rica's Adriana Rojas continues ahead of the pack of women. A solid display of technical skills and strength in the past 3 stages could get her in the 1st place in the podium on the last stage tomorrow.
Stage 4 is composed of 121 kilometers of dirt roads, defying climbs and an eternal railroad segment that will lead racers to the Caribbean coast, north of the port of Moín, Limón. Racers will ride a final 12 kilometers of marshy, abandoned roads parallel to the coast.
Men’s Stage Results:
1. Deiber Esquivel – 03:53:01
2. Benjamin Sontaag – 04:01:33
3. Alex Grant – 04:01:34
Women’s Stage Results:
1. Louise Kobin – 04:58:30
2. Adriana Rojas – 05:01:50
3. Emma Smith – 06:11:12
Friday, November 13, 2009
November 13th, 2009
La Ruta de los Conquistadores takes racers on a four day, 239 mile trek across Costa Rica, following the west to east route of 16th Century Spanish Conquistador Juan de Caballon (read more about the event here). J. Andres Vargas with Lead Adventure Media wrote the following account of the second stage.
La Ruta racers took on one of the strongest ascents today about one and a half kilometers after the start of the stage, a wall that took riders from 800 meters up to 1,400 meters above sea level within 8 kilometers.
Top racers showed their world-class skill, making the first ascent seem like a ride in the park although several elite riders paid the price of a rapid pace and a grueling push to the top. Such was the case of Ben Sonntag when at 100 meters from reaching the top of the mountain, his chain jammed in his rear cassette.
Paolo Montoya from team Giant-Italy, who was near the scene as a spectator due to recent injury, said Ben had a top-five position when the chain jammed. Sonntag lost over twenty minutes and was passed bymore than half the participants, yet he managed to make it into 10th position.
Costa Rica’s Deiber Esquivel had another amazing comeback from a hardware malfunction. After finishing in 13th position on Stage 1, Esquivel came in first place on Stage 2, 30 seconds before Manuel Prado, who still holds 1st place in the general standings.
Deiber is the only elite racer from team Economy-Citi-Blue. The Costa Rican Cycling Federation threatened local elite riders with disqualifications for upcoming events if they participated in La Ruta. The event, considered by UCI regulations three years ago to be too far on the adventure-racing side of the fence, is now amidst allegations from the local cycling federation. It claims La Ruta must pay honoraries and percentages for purposes unclear to this day.
Both Esquivel and Prado would be subject to sanctions, but have clearly stated their main goal throughout the season has been to prepare for La Ruta. They said they were willing to undergo penalties to represent their country and teams.
Monavie-Cannondale’s Tinker Juarez was not able to finish the stage when he found himself lost on an abandoned road for more than an hour, immediately followed by an unfortunate flat tire that set him down to a car ride from his nearby location.
“It’s truly unfortunate, but these things happen,” Tinker said. He will continue unranked and keeps a signature smile on his face, always available for a photograph with his loyal fans.
Tomorrow awaits one of the toughest stages of the race, the climb to Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes, reaching a height of close to 3,400 meters above sea level.
Men’s Stage Results:
1. Deiber Esquivel – 03:45:27
2. Manuel Prado – 03:45:58
3. Marc Trayter – 03:46:02
4. Milton Ramos -3:51:09
5. Heinz Zoerweg - 3:51:35
6. Jeremiah Bishop - 3:51:35
7. Alex Grant - 3:51:35
Women’s Stage Results:
1. Louise Kobin – 04:42:34
2. Adriana Rojas – 04:44:52
3. Yesennia Villalta – 06:23:30
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tinker and the rest of the MonaVie-Cannondale team spent part of the day visiting a local Costa Rican Children's Hospital where they got a chance to talk with some of the children and hand out hats and t-shirts. The whole team was so happy to be able to meet everyone. They will raise funds for the children through the sell of Costa Rican coffee and a raffle for an all expense trip to the 2010 La Ruta de los Conquistadores race to raise money for the children, who mostly are battling cancer. Anyone can donate and buy tickets on the www.MonaVie-Cannondale.com website so check it out when you get time. The team posted a great video and a story about the visit.
Tinker mentioned there were some changes in the sanctioning with the Costa Rican Cycling Federation. Cyclingnews.com has a good write up about it here: La Ruta & Federation Battle
www.Bikeradar.com has a great preview here: Preview (not sure why the title is '2010'??)
Friday, November 06, 2009
PS - the photos were from Mick Shea: http://picasaweb.google.com/mick.shea/Oct09FTF?feat=email#
Thursday, November 05, 2009
We already made plans to go next year and will focus on the race first and then staying to visit and tour a little. Brazil will host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro so they want to show us the city. Also, Mona Vie Brazil is the exclusive sponsor to the MORE Project so we will get a chance to visit the facility and interact with the children. It will be so awesome. Way too many people live in extreme poverty and the MORE project provides hope, guidance, and education to the lucky ones involved. I know it will be tough not taking all the kids home with me - they are all so amazing and I can't wait to meet them.
The Iron Biker is the biggest race in South America. At least 1000 riders were at the start and the competition was incredible. It was a very fast race on mostly jeep roads with tons of climbing in the beautiful mountains. This part of Brazil was amazing beautiful and scenery was awesome. The city where the race was hosted was called Ouro Preto, built in the 18th century. They say that marathon racing in South America beganin Ouro Preto and the people are very proud of the race, the city, and their country. It is a race I am looking forward to next year and beyond and hope to do better next year. This year I had the flu - you know the fever, cough, runny nose, feel like crap, body aches flu - but I managed a 6th place over all. It was not easy and I had to really really dig deep but pulled it off.
One of the many highlights of the trip was getting to meet up with my good friend Roberto Nogueira of the Bike Park in Sao Silvano, one of my personal sponsors. He already had plans to go to the big Formula 1 race in Sao Paolo but he squeezed in some time for dinner. It is always good to see him and one of my stops next year will be a visit and race at the Bike Park next year. Here is a blog for the Bike Park: Bike Park Blog
It was also great to see Fabio Piva, the editor of Bike Brazil magazine. He is a friend of Roberto's and was at the race taking tons of photos. I can't wait to see the stories!
Thanks very much to the Iron Biker race promoter, the Mona Vie Brazil, and Bike Park for an awesome trip. Check out www.MonaVie-Cannondale.com for photos and stories. I'm not so good with the camera but they are.