Q: Describe what it feels like riding from Durango to Costa Rica, in one run-on sentence.
A: Imagine how YOU feel when you’ve done a great new ride somewhere that you’ve never been before and it was hard and beautiful with all sorts of demanding terrain and interactions and it took all day and you finished with a feeling of great satisfaction and adventure as the ride included wind and weather and
a few other unexpected challenges some of which were bicycle related and others that had nothing at all to do with this ride that you were doing and then multiply by 105 because that’s how many days it took me to ride my bike from Durango to Costa Rica and when you’re done imagining that throw in some crazy border crossings in foreign dialects and currency calculations and bad directions that led you onto some very dangerous stretches of road, some with awesome scenery and others with the stench of garbage and delinquency followed by moments of doubt and elation and monotony and acheivement, then YOU’ll have a pretty decent idea of how it felt to ride my bike from Durango to Costa Rica…..
Q: What is the mountain biking like down there and what bike or bikes are you currently shredding? Who do you ride with?
A: The mountain biking here is awesome, however limited as Costa Rica doesn’t have an organized public lands infrastructure that has funding and manpower to build trails. The trails that do exist are generally slimy and technical as we’re in the tropics and it rains regularly. Think roots and rocks. One of my main riding buds, Paulo, has worked hard to gain access to historic local trails. He hires local campesinos to help him build, clean and maintain them. Many local mountain bikers ride the countless dirt roads that link remote villages to paved roads. I usually ride with a local gang of downhilleros with names like Mosco de Pina, Ricardo, Alvaro, Andres and the Pizza Hut team. I’m shredding my Turner 5-spot on the trails and my touring bike, which I call the Noodle, for general road riding.
Q: How did you score a job with Pizza Hut? Do you get free pizza?
A: I’ve had a long friendship with the director of the team, a man named Albin Brenes. I called him when I arrived in the country and he offered me a job immediately. And yes, I eat free pizza 3 times a day. In fact, they pay me in pizza coupons, which are more valuable that the local currency.
Q: Olympics man, what? Who was the coolest athlete you met in person..cycling and non-cycling?
A: Since Costa Rica only qualified 2 cyclists, only 1 support person was allowed to accompany them. Both of the riders are from my team, so Albin decided it would be more important to send me, as the coaching could be done via e-mail or the telephone. The coolest cyclist I met was Janka Stevkova, a mountain biker from Slovakia. She was friendly and smiled a lot. The coolest non-cyclist athlete I met would have to be Nery Brenes, who competed for Costa Rica in the 400 meters. At first, I thought he was rude because he barely lifted his head when I introduced myself. It wasn’t ’til later that day that I realized he was just super focused on his qualifying heat. After which, he proved to be a happy comic who’s ear to ear grin was infectious. Constantly positive vibes poured out of him.
Q: If you could be an athlete in any sport, what would you be?
A: I’d like to be a cyclist when I grow up!
Q: Do you have a crush on any of the Olympic ladies? If so who and what would your first date entail?
A: Svetlana Rysenko, the Ukrainian weight lifter was kind of cute, although rather large, call it big-boned. On our first date, she could “crush” me.
Q: What do the Costa Rican Youth do to progress through the cycling world? Is their a national race series, do the have sport, expert cat names?
A: There are a lot of very dedicated and generous cycling coaches in Costa Rica. Most work with athletic programs at a county level. Many, if not most of these coaches donate their time to train and support their local teams. The catagories are pre-junior, junior, and sub-23. Most cycling events in Costa Rica provide for these catagories, as well as elites, veterans and masters. There are a couple of race series that are very well attended. Per capita, cycling is quite popular in Costa Rica, only surpassed by soccer. Each year National Games are held to crown champions in various sports, including cycling.
Q: What do you want every junior racer to grow to understand?
A: The values of sacrifice, sportsmanship, teamwork, and humility. No champion, past or present has won every event in which they’ve participated. One of the most important attributes any athlete posesses is knowing how to lose gracefully and turn it into motivation. Practice your sport ’cause you love it and it will make you happy and healthy!