Louise's take on her favorite race
Louise Kobin is a regular on the endurance racing scene. She's participated in a number 24-hour solo races, 100 mile events, Europe's toughest marathon event -- the Salzkammergut Trophy and numerous stage races. Lou's raced in The Cape Epic, The Transrockies Challenge and The Transalp Challenge. Last weekend she raced her first 12-hour solo race to get in some training for the upcoming Cape Epic.
In '04 Lou finished an impressive 36th overall at La Ruta and this year she became the first three time La Ruta champion. I think a lot of that has to do with the back-to-back 8-10 hour training rides with plenty of climbing that she does in preparation for the race, not to mention the group road rides she does on her mountain bike sans slicks.
M: What years did you race La Ruta? Does it get any easier? Did you finish all of them?
L: I've raced in Costa Rica in 2003, 2004 and 2005. I've finished every year but it doesn't get any easier.
M: Which year was the hardest?
L: The first year in 2003. I missed the start on the second day and had to make up a lot of time, but I finished with a 4-minute lead by the end of the race.
M: Why do you keep going back to La Ruta?
L: I like it because the days are long and hard. I also like that you get to cross a whole country and meet the people.
M: Was it your first multiday race--is that part of it?
L: No, my first stage race was the Transrockies Challenge in 2002, the first year it was held. I like La Ruta because it's a little low key compared to something like the Transalp. I like that you have to "wing it" a little bit down there.
M: Do you prefer a hardtail or suspension for that race?
L: I prefer to use a full suspension. I've used one every time that I've been down there. The backside of the volcano on day two and the railroad tracks on day three are the main reasons behind my choice.
M: The finish rate at CR is about 2/3 to 3/4. What do you think is the most important determinant for a first timer finishing?
L: Don't underestimate the difficulty of the race. Prepare with very long training days. A bike that's in good working order with new or fairly new components is required. It's very important that the bike be able to withstand all the mud.
M: You've won the woman's category three times in a row. What does it take to put together 3 good days?
L: I think it's necessary to include blocks of hard training days. For example, train for three days in a row on a long weekend. Learn to ride on tired legs and include plenty of climbing on your rides.
M: Did you train differently this year as opposed to last year?
L: No. I did long back-to-back training days.
M: What items are the most important to take with you each day while racing?
L: Thermotabs, Sustained Energy, Hammer Gel and thick lube. If the lube isn't thick it won't stay on at all.
M: I had bad cramps on day 1 the last time I was at La Ruta in '04. How do you deal with cramps down in CR?
M: How do you deal with all the mud down there?
L: I dunk the bike in as many stream crossing as I can and try to keep the chain lubed.
M: What's your favorite day or part of the race?
L: I like riding up the volcano on day 2. I was 10 minutes faster this year compared to last year!
M: Do you think multidays are more fun than 100 milers, 12-hour races and 24-hour races?
L: Yeah, since they last longer.
M: Will you be going back in 2006?
L: You bet!
M: What are some of the other races are you will be doing this year?
L: The Cape Epic, The Ironbike, the Transrockies Challenge and The Cascade Creampuff 100 to name a few.
M: Any tips for the racers? Do's or dont's?
L: Eat a lot after each stage as soon as you finish to refuel for the next day; I eat twice after each stage. Have fun, enjoy the challenge and don't get stressed out. Be flexible if things don't go right or as you planned...that's part of the challenge!