La Ruta de los Conquistadores is one of the most important cycling events in Latin America – 230 grueling kilometers traversing Costa Rican terrain, from coast to coast. The race, now in its 25th year, spans three days in which competing teams trek from Pacific Jacó, past Turrialba Volcano, all the way through to Caribbean Limón.
Members of EARTH University’s faculty and staff have been training hard for the November 2-4 competition. The 10-member team – named EARTH Frutas Secas (“EARTH Dried Fruits”) – has existed for many years, having represented the University in minor cycling events, such as the Vuelta al Lago Arenal, among others. They first had the idea of signing up for the major Conquistadores race about a year ago.
“For all true mountain bikers, taking on the Ruta de los Conquistadores is a real dream that can sometimes seem unattainable,” mentioned Luis Carlos Ruiz Bolaños, projects engineer at EARTH and one of the teammates.
Through their participation, the cycling team hopes to inspire others to view athletics as a fun, rewarding and healthy pastime.
Attending an event such as this requires great physical and mental preparation, along with a large dose of fundraising. Thanks to a special funding agreement with race organizers, plus multiple raffles, product sales and support from EARTH coworkers and friends, the team was able to cover all its fees – inscription, housing, food, transportation, mechanical support and, of course, cool uniforms.
The team’s primary sponsors include EARTH, VTH, Colono Agropecuario, Alltech, Itecna, Lumeca, Wooki, Calzado Moderno, Dyscresa, JIMEZA, Clínica Dental Dittel y La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
Meet the team:
Name: Alondra Gómez Arias
EARTH department: Housing and Services
Years working at EARTH: 2
Race experience: Two-time participant in the Vuelta al Lago Arenal
How does it feel to represent EARTH in such an important competition? I’m very proud to represent the University!
Name: Mildred Linkimer.
EARTH departments: Faculty / Center for Research and Development in Renewable Energies
Years working at EARTH: 6
Race experience: I’ve been competing as a swimmer since childhood. Years later I started cycling and participating in many events, including the Vuelta al Lago Arenal with the EARTH team. For the past few years I’ve trained as a triathlete and have competed in different events with very good results.
Why do you love cycling? It’s one of the best sports around. It improves your health, it offers you the liberty of the open road, it takes you to extraordinary places and it allows you to meet lovely people. The bicycle is a tool for bringing happiness!
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? Representing EARTH in any event or in any capacity is always a great source of pride. We’re very thankful the University supports this type of initiative.
Name: Miguel Yen
EARTH department: Procurement and Supplies
Years working at EARTH: 27
Race experience: 14 years practicing and competing in the Vuelta al Lago Arenal
Why do you love cycling? It’s a doctor-recommended activity that gives me a lot of positive feelings.
Name: Luis Carlos Ruiz Bolaños, cc: LuCa
EARTH department: Special Projects (General Administration)
Years working at EARTH: 5
Race experience: La Ruta de los Conquistadores 2016; Guanaride 2016, 2017; Volcano 100 (100 millas Rincón de la Vieja) 2015, 2016, 2017
Why do you love cycling? It all started in 2012 thanks to a doctor’s recommendation on how to manage stress and to my wife who motivated me to buy a bicycle.
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? Representing EARTH is very significant for me because I believe so fully in its values. Internalizing these values helps us focus on the greater goals in our lives. Dedication, teamwork, sacrifice and discipline are key to achieving – oh and the thought of arriving at Limón’s Playa Blanca.
Name: José A. Wilson
EARTH department: Transportation
Years working at EARTH: 27
Race experience: 14 years attending the Vuelta al Lago Arenal, among other competitions
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? It makes me feel even prouder to work for this institution.
Name: Luis Enrique Solano Barquero
EARTH department: Information Services
Years working at EARTH: 10
Race experience: I practiced street cycling competitively for 10 years, participating in different events across the country, including five times at the National Games of Costa Rica. After that, I began doing mountain triathlons for four years. Currently, I alternate between cycling and swimming – trying to attend hybrid events that challenge me.
Why do you love cycling? Cycling is a highly physically demanding sport, which is something I’ve always liked. Additionally, it gives you a large sense of freedom – you can head in almost any direction, to any place, including those you can’t reach by car. I can stop anywhere that piques my interest and enjoy the landscape.
Name: Francisco Serrano Rodriguez
Race experience: Five years of recreational practice and competitions such as the 160k in Rincón de la Vieja and races in small, nearby towns.
Name: Henry Soto Mora
Race experience: Seven years participating in the Vuelta al Lago Arenal; three years of Palmarín Fiestas Palmares; one year of Fondo Calero
Why do you love cycling? It began as a personal goal, to lose weight and improve my physical condition, thanks to the motivation of family and friends.
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? It’s a pleasure and a great opportunity!
Name: Geovanny Rodríguez Gamboa
Race experience: La Etapa Costa Rica by Le Tour de France 2017; 160k Rincón de La Vieja 2017; Competitiva Los Duros
Why do you love cycling? I started because I wanted to adopt a healthy lifestyle, without ever knowing I’d end up taking great pleasure working hard at the pedal.
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? At once it’s a great opportunity and responsibility. We’re representing the University for far-off towns – many of which are places our teammates come from.
Name: Alexander Vargas Rodríguez
EARTH department: EARTH Commercial Activities (VTH)
Years working at EARTH: 9
Race experience: La Ruta de los Conquistadores 2015; Vuelta al Lago Arenal; multiple recreational events
Why do you love cycling? Since high school, I’ve practiced here and there, motivated by Walter Chaves and José Santos Blandón (Tinker Tico), in San Alberto de Siquírres. After suffering a knee injury in soccer, the doctor recommended bicycling as an alternative exercise. I haven’t stopped pedaling since!
What does it mean to you to represent EARTH in such an important competition? It’s another opportunity to communicate EARTH’s message, to demonstrate the commitment of every staff member to the mission of forming young leaders and adopting alternatives in our daily activities to reduce our negative environmental impact.
Luca, Alondra, Deivis, Alexander, José, Francisco, Henry and Miguel are the members of the EARTH Frutas Secas team who’ll represent the University in la Ruta de los Conquistadores this year.