La Ruta on a Fat Bike?

If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I occasionally dabble in the “fat arts” by riding and racing (poorly) my fat bike.  Don’t get me wrong, I love riding the fat bike under certain conditions – just as I love my road bike for riding on the roads, my full suspension bike for bombing down technical trails and my hardtail for routes that involve climbing my brains out.  Each bike has certain things at which it excels.  Even though the closest I’ve ever been to a horse is cautiously standing trailside as one passes (while praying it doesn’t kick me in the head) the idiomatic phrase “horses for courses” immediately springs to mind when I ponder my own stable full of trusty steeds out in the garage.  Each one caters to a different skillset.  Which is why I darn near spit my coffee out this morning while reading in Cycling News that La Ruta has added a fat bike category for next year’s race.  Why?

Maybe that visceral reaction has something to do with my own spotty history with La Ruta.  Back in 2008 I clearly picked the wrong horse for the stupid-steep climbing of Costa Rica (when factored in with my talent at least) and decided to singlespeed the damn thing.  Not that there was a separate singlespeed class to enter and compete in, I just thought that simplicity was the way to go for the tough conditions I’d heard about down there.

My race didn’t end well.  At some point during Day 1 I found myself sitting beside the road cramping like mad in the tropical heat, although cramping was the least of my worries when I subsequently discovered that I was also sitting on top of a fire ant colony.  After DNF’ing the first day followed by a trip to the clinic for some IV fluids and a couple of mystery injections to each leg (I still don’t know what they were),  I continued onward and upward with ant-bite swollen legs until Day 3 when I decided that pushing my bike up impossibly steep trails snaking up the side of volcanoes was getting old.  Longing for a granny gear, I quit and bummed a ride back to San Jose to have a real vacation. Lesson learned – choose your weapon (and where you sit) carefully.


Which is why I’m mystified as to why anyone would ever want to ride La Ruta on a fat bike.  Not only because of all the pavement climbing that would surely be hell on a fat bike, but also due to the potential for a massive buildup of all that sticky mud on the wheels and tires of a fatty.   I recall having my shoes damn near ripped off my feet during some of the hike a bike in the Carrera National Park so I think my 9:ZERO:7 would weigh over 50 lbs coming out of that section.  You couldn’t pay me enough to ride La Ruta on a fat bike.

Ahhh who am I kidding? If someone were to pay my entry fee I’d probably ride it on a fixed-gear fat bike – I’ve got unfinished business down there and I’m not getting any younger (and clearly not any smarter).  Costa Rica is a beautiful country no matter what bike you’re riding.

So what do you think about the addition of the fat bike class to La Ruta?  Yea, nay or who cares?  I say ride whatever you want but don’t go making separate classes based on tire width.

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2 Responses to La Ruta on a Fat Bike?

  1. WMuecke says:

    Come back this year! Happy to put you in a Team CoreCo jersey and hand you a kitchen spatula to clean off the mud on Day 1. We just ran a weekend training camp, dubbed “Fat Camp” for the riders that showed up on their fat bikes, and it was a hoot! Looking forward to racing La Ruta this year on our Fatback bikes, and hope to see you there, too!! If not La Ruta, and you just want to come back and ride in CR (fat bike or one of those skinny-tired things…a 29er or such?), happy to have company on the trails down here. Just drop a line to and we will be sure to hook you up with a local crew with legs and trail knowledge to match. Best, Will.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Will, maybe I’ll see you there. Beautiful area of the world to spend a few days riding a bike and I’d love to go back!

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