La Ruta Day 4, revenge of the big boys

Wake up at 3am so we can make the long ride down to the start. On the shuttle this woman in the row across from me has to go to the bathroom so bad she can´t stand it. Being a trooper she pulls down the tights, swings it out the open window, and goes while i hold onto her wrists as everyone claps for her. Moments after she brings it back in a truck goes barreling by. nice timing. I´m looking forward to today, finally starting to feel a bit beat but because of the low gears we´ve been pushing the legs aren´t that sore. It´s 75 miles with only 5,600 feet of climbing. The usual gut bustlingly steep climb to start with, one or two more, than flat for the final 40 mile or so, never mind the 40 K of railroad trestles. Maybe i´ll get to use of that big guy roadie power today.
Pick my bike up, switch out to the Nevegal 1.9´s (smoother rolling, finally). While changing tires i notice that three of the spokes in a row on the non drive side of my rear Spinergy are missing. WTF!! I gave it the once over before i dropped it off and all was fine. The mechanic tells me they were broken. Yeah, right, more like your buddy rides spinergy, needed a few spokes and there they went. Well I´ve come all this way, i´m 185 lbs but feel that if any wheel can take it, these can.
Start in the back with Michiko, she thinks she caught a cold yesterday. I´m pissed about my wheel but happy to nearly be done. The first third is fairly uneventful, more steep climbing, some fun descending. I kept forgetting about my wheel and letting go on the downhills. A group of us hook up on a paved section before the first rail section, feels sooooo good to draft again. Soon as we hit the rails that´s done with. I´m taking it a bit easy here because of my wheel, but it´s pounding the hell out of the little guys, some on hardtails. The ties are cement, about 18 inches apart and some have very little dirt-rocks left between them so you go in way deep, hit hard, then push it way high again over and over. We come to the first major bridge, for a second i think i´ll be a bad-ass and try and ride it. Noooo, bad idea, the ties here are wood, some seriously shot, and all slick as hell. Still, i gain some ground walking around people who are taking it incredibly slow. Whats the problem, we´re only fifty feet above a rushing river with crocodiles?
Another paved section a group of about ten of us get together. Where the hell did all the roadies go? I keep trying to organize a pace line but it´s not working at all. People keep surging at the front then dropping themselves or not taking pulls at all. After nearly getting my front wheel taken out by the same guy twice (¨sorry, bro¨) I put in hard effort to loose the group figuring i´d rather work my ass off alone then hassle with the group that wasn´t helping much anyway. On a long dirt-gravel section i hook up with two other guys who know what they´re doing and we get in some good miles. Its raining off and on, my eyes are killing me from holding a wheel kicking up so much dirt and grit. Seems best three inches just to the side. We ford a few rivers that are moving pretty quick, i´m working harder on the easiest stage. On the steep climbing days you can just sit back and spin all day, on the flats i feel obligated to push it. Our little manage-a-trios breaks up when we hit the next railroad section. It´s finally getting hot and i´m sore, ready to not be on my bike now, suspension sounds like hell. A few times we get directed off the railroad for some deep swampy riding along the coast, i can see the Caribbean waves right there and hear Howler monkeys to my right. I´m losing moral, but remind myself that i´m doing La Ruta, riding my mountain bike in Costa Rica, how cool is that. Hip deep pools to ride through, some of them salt water, bikes going to need a total rebuild after this, every bearing replaced, chain, maybe cassette. Finally hit the last few miles of pavement. Can really feel the rear wheel now, going up and and down in the saddle, wum-wum-wum-.... A quick left down some unexpected ramps over stairs, across the finish line Feels so good. Can´t believe i just finished an event i´ve been reading about for years. 6:28, 32nd in the open category for the day. Tires and power paid off a bit. If not for that rear... hmmm...nah i just came here to finish in one piece. Ended up 53rd on the open GC (with Tinker and those crazy fast guys).
Stage Five: A hellish bus ride back to san jose. finally caught the runs something wicked. Better then than during the race but the bathroom was intense. Shit filled water backing up into the sink, piss and eventually fecal matter all over the general area of the toilet and i kept having to go back in there for a six hour ride. Stay up until 5:30am waiting for the bikes to arrive and rushing to the bathroom. Thank god it´s over. But it was awesome.

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