Plenty of hike-a-bike on Day 3
Race leader (and local) Federico Ramirez makes it look easy
I think I´m in love with my bike. I probably just had one of the best rides of the year (definitely since Wednesday). Stage 3 of La Ruta is one of the signature stages with a simple message to the riders – start here, ride over that 3,000m volcano then down the other side, it’s about 67km and only 2,600m of climbing. The drawback is that pretty much all the climbing is in the first half…
We exploded into action at 7am as usual and straight into it – 600m of vertical to be gained with a mix of road and some extremely steep dirt, but no mud! Our first crest came in an ever-steepening gulley with spectators on both sides urging us on as we scrabbled for grip. The phrase “I love you Rocky Mountain man!” from a burly chap put me right off my line at a critical moment but I held it together and made the climb. Man love in the mountains was not on my agenda coming out here and he wasn´t my type anyway.
Firing a Torq bar and lots of fluid down my neck we dropped some height before the big climb, bigger than anything you can do in the UK – if you started in Fort William you´d need to raise the top of Ben Nevis a bit. This was on road so the travel on the Rocky was cranked down to four inches and locked out. Surprisingly I felt good in the leg department and elected to “give it the berries” to the top, and for once the body agreed. I even manged to drop a girl who races for Canada.
We topped out in sunshine, took in more spectatular views and I wound the travel out for the descent. Imagine riding down the Garburn Pass as quick as you can, but then multiply it by however many times you’d need to for a drop of 5,000ft – absolutely fantastic. I managed to keep it rubber side down and after about 45 minutes of being on the ragged edge made it to the finish.
5hrs 11 today and my best result by miles, picking up 14 places overall in the 30-39 category to put me 22nd going into the final day. One the subject of the final day if anyone has any tips on how to ride at speed along railway lines I´d be grateful, its a new experience that I´m not sure I´m looking forward to. At least there’s the Carribean and large amounts of ale at the end…
Standings after Day 3
1. Federico Ramirez 13:09:51
2. Paolo Montoya +13:46
3. Enrique Artavia +59:12
4. Thomas Dietsch +1:00:20
5. Manuel Prado +1:04:14