First time at La Ruta
I thought it would be interesting to ask a first time La Ruta participant what he thought of the race. Tim Zandbergen is a local SoCal racer and captain for the Velosport Mountain Bike Team. Here are his thoughts on his first La Ruta (2005):
M: What attracted you to La Ruta?
Tim: I was looking for a good challenge. It was something I have never done. The attraction increased when it was hosted in a 3rd world country. I knew that there would be no luxuries.
M: What tires's did you take to CR and what would you recommend?
Tim: I used the Kenda Karama (no flats). I recommend a tire that is as narrow and not too aggressive. The first day has a lot of mud so you don't want the tire to hold on to it. It is also rocky so you want a tire that is tough.
M: Hardtail or Suspension?
Tim: I rode a specialized epic. It was the perfect bike. [I have to agree with Tim on that one...3 La Ruta's and a Specialized every time!]
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? No mechanicals, a little luck, fitness, no crashes,etc...?
Tim: To finish you need fitness and determination. The first day was 8:45 minutes. You have to train your body to go and go and go.
M: What does it take to put together 3 good days?
Tim: Training. Any rider can finish the race. But you need to finish it within the cutoff times and be ready to do it again the next day.
M: Being your first multiday race how did you train for it?
Tim: I would train hard one day and ride easier the next day for 4 plus hours. I also did hill repeats in a big gear to help with producing power. Next time, I would train harder both days. Example would to do the Vision Quest one day and the Counting Coup the next.
M: What 5 items are the most important to take with you to the race in general & each day?
Tim: Bring all the supplements you would need; ie: Cytomax. They have food but your body is not use to using it as fuel. Bring what your use to using. Bring clean cloths.
M: Did you get bad cramps? If so, how do you deal with cramps down there?
Tim: No cramps at all. I used Hammer Heed mixed with Sustained Energy. It was the perfect combination.
M: What's your favorite thing about La Ruta/Costa Rica?
Tim: Finishing. Comradery with the other riders. The sights. The course.
M: How do you deal with the mud down there?
Tim: Just deal with it. Don't get frustrated. Train knowing that you will have to do a lot of steep slippery hike-a-bike with a really heavy bike on you back.
M: My first time at La Ruta I was 2 hours into the race and I was asking myself why the hell did I decide to ever do such a race. Was there any point where you felt like that?
Tim: About 3 hours into it I had an atomic bonk. I was literately suicidal for what seemed forever. Once I recovered, I was fine. That feeling tainted my experience. The main memory from the 3 days is how bad I felt on the first day for that short time.
M: What do you normally carry every day?
Tim: Spare tube.
M: Any tips for racers? Do's and dont's?
Tim: Do train, train, and train. Do hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. Do eat, eat, and eat.
M: What are some of the races are you doing this year?
Tim: I will be competing in the NORBA National marathons along with some epic century road rides that include over 10,000 ft of climbing.