LA RUTA DE LOS CONQUISTADORES is Costa Rica’s premier mountain bike race and one of the most difficult athletic events on the planet. The world’s original multi-day fat-tire stage race, La Ruta is the “Grandfather” that created and inspired this now-worldwide genre — and still the most loved, feared, and respected.
La Ruta is a soul-sappingly hard, exotically wild, singular journey across laughably steep inclines, hysterically steeper descents, through jungles, plantations, villages, across ecosystems and temperate zones, over volcanoes and beaches and terrain that you never quite imagined you could ride on a bike.
~Chris Case (2013 finisher) - VeloNews Managing Editor
This is quite possibly the hardest of all mountain bike events on the Epic Endurance Bucket List. For perspective, consider that for time-in-the-saddle it’s like doing the Leadville 100 three days in a row. There’s more climbing than Leadville in Stage 2 alone, and in half the distance!
~ Chris Carmichael (3-time La Ruta finisher)
The toughest race in the world
Every year, hundreds of the very best mountain bikers and endurance racers from around the world come to Central America to test themselves in this unique odyssey of distance, geography, climate and culture. La Ruta, the only bike race that traverses the American land mass from coast to coast — from Pacific to Atlantic —is no easy day at the beach. Between its sea-level start and finish, the 161-mile route crosses 5 mountain ranges that force you climb a cumulative 29,000 feet! The daunting terrain is so harsh that half a millennium ago it took Spanish conquistadores led by Juan De Cavallón 20 years to cross the land of Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea; today, following almost the same trails they blazed, modern-day explorers racing on mountain bikes will do it in 3 days.
But the legendary difficulty of La Ruta is just one reason why this adventure will take your breath away. Its setting is one of the most special places on earth. Costa Rica has been called "the most biodiverse place on the planet" by National Geographic because it packs a full 5% of the Earth’s species of birds, plants and animals onto just 0.01% of the planet’s land mass.
La Ruta riders get a chance to see and hear many of them as they travel through nine of the country’s twelve different microclimates. As the route snakes through tropical rain forest, 12,000 feet volcanoes, banana plantations and tiny farm towns, it alternatively drenches you in rain and freezes you in high elevation. Over every imaginable riding surface— singletrack and fireroad trails, gravel, hard-packed dirt, pavement, thigh-deep mud, sand, volcano ash, and more — the route will have you making endless granny-gear chugs, hike-a-bikes, and white-knuckle descents through and over rain forests, sweltering jungle, steaming volcanoes, breezy coastline, suspended bridges and deep river gorges.
La Ruta It is not a race for novice mountain bikers. Even professional riders often roll their eyes in disbelief when they recount what they have done. This race is a test of everything you’ve got — your riding abilities, physical endurance, mental strength and equipment durability. In this struggle of joyful adversity, you may even learn something new about yourself. That’s why many who experience the grueling terrain that bedeviled the original Conquistadores nearly five centuries ago often describe it not merely as a “race” — but as personal growth journey.