Day 2: A Good Day
November 16, 2002 Costa Rica
Matthew Della Croce, an amateur mountain bike racer, avid adventure athlete and published writer from the U.S. returns to La Ruta for the second time. Three years ago La Ruta kicked his ass and he was only able to complete two of the three days. Now he is headed back for another attempt.
Today was a good day. I had no idea what was in store when I slowly made my way to the shower at 4:45 a.m. My stomach was still in knots, rendering me unable to eat last night or this morning. My riding companion, Paul Warburg, wasn't doing much better. Both of us privately wondered why we weren't staying in bed because everything hurt.
Today's stage was a ridiculously long climb up and then a nasty decent. I like to climb, so riding up into the mountains surrounding San Jose was breathtaking. The views over the plush valley below helped me forget about how tired I was.
I rode the day with my new found friends at the back of the pack-those of us just wanting to finish. For us this in not just a race, but also more of an adventure ride challenging our will and hearts. One of the benefits of suffering among others' is you quickly become good friends who constantly encourage one another and look out for each others' well being.
The climb was a mix of road, gravel, cow-path and rock garden. 45k up. The last 3 were the worst of the day for me. For those few minutes I basically lost my shit. A sudden shock of fatigue, dizziness, sweats and nausea hit me hard. I got off my bike to walk. It was raining pretty hard, and I wasn't sure I could go another step. Luckily it's at these times when your head just ignores the physical crumblings until the private hell you are visiting passes. For me it was a water bottle of warm sugar water that did the trick.
The decent down the volcano Irazu was intense-a lot of fun. Steep, fast and technical with lots of mud, puddles and loose rocks of varying sizes. My arms were screaming at times from holding onto the brakes for so long.
One of the huge benefits of today was the weather. There was almost constant cloud cover in the morning, which helped keep the temperatures manageable. It only rained for a short time while I was around the top of the stage. At about the time of my decent the clouds cleared to allow views of the amazingly beautiful valleys below.
Just had a huge dinner with friends and getting ready to go to bed. One more day to go. And tomorrow is a long day. But, after the misery of day one, today's ride was a great way to raise everyone's spirits.
Courtesy, Back to the Earth Group