Riding the La Ruta was a little like extracting a tooth. I had been toying with the idea, knowing from my experience in Guatemala that Costa Rica would be hilly, hard and beautiful. But it wasn't until Thomas brought back some great stories, and his wife even giving me a hard time about doing it (she did it and finished it in 2005), that I ended up saying yes. Thomas had invited me to do the TransAlp a couple of years earlier, and I knew how hard that was, so when he came back and said La Ruta was harder, I didn't have the frame of mind or much motivation to go. In the end I did go, and even though I ended up getting sick, I did finish, and I really did have a great time. What didn't happen were any flat tires, which I was very, very thankful for. I was so fatigued all the time that I worried I wouldn't have enough energy to fix a flat or repair my bike were I to experience technical difficulties. Costa Rica was incredible - pristine jungle, wildlife, volcanoes, mountains. It was over the top. I'm really thankful I went. I brought my Breakaway Titanium prototype mountain bike and was the only guy out there without a suspension fork, bouncing over head-size boulders down the face of the volcano, and I still didn't get a flat. Maybe I had overinflated my tires... It took everything a 49-year-11-month-old rider had to give. With no crashes and no flats, the suffering only lasted three days. Making it to the Atlantic was great: a wonderful crowd of people to talk to, and to share the pain stories with. It also provided a nice opportunity to tell people about Project Rwanda, the cause I was riding for.

Project Rwanda's vision is to "further the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and as symbol of hope. Our goal is to leverage the bicycle to help boost the Rwandan economy, as well as 're-brand' Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and tour freely."   Links: