Ben pulls double duty with Specialized. As the current AMA Supersport champion, the elder Boz Brother stays fit and focused by training on his Tarmac. When not ripping up the racetrack, Ben enjoys select mountain bike events as a member of USA Factory Team Specialized/Sho-Air, with a particular (peculiar?) taste for solo 24-hour races.
Ben Bostrom InterviewNovember 1, 2010
@BenBostrom and all things two wheels on Singletrack.com
Diary Of A ConquistadorJanuary 26, 2010
To suffer is character-building. To race La Ruta de los Conquistadores is life changing...
Check out the rest of the diary at http://superbikeplanet.com
La Ruta Stage 3 Post Race InterviewNovember 25, 2009
Stage 4 La Ruta Post Race InterviewNovember 25, 2009
La Ruta Pre-Race Day 3November 11, 2009
Click, click, click, click. 5am wake up call for day 3 pre-ride came a half hour early thanks to a crazy lizard that lives outside el casa de Prado. He replicates the Costa Rican knock, which is a tapping on the door or window with a coin. This day was going to be exciting. Climb 10,000 feet up a volcano, then traverse to another volcano and descend for an hour. I know the climb sounds painful, but everyone says the descent is worse. Dodging cattle in dense fog while manipulating volcanic boulders for a couple hours takes its toll on you, mentally and physically.
Naturally, the warm up lasts about 3 minutes before we slip into our friendly 28-36 gears. After another 10 minutes, Manny gives me the race 411, “Okay, Ben, the race winner attacks here every year.” The translation is, “I am going to do a race simulation here.” Sweet. After that short hell, the pace is relaxed and the enjoyment begins. Some short hike-a-bikes allow us time to see the beautiful farms and take in the amazing views, before we disappear into the fog. At our slack pace today, it took nearly 3 hours to reach the long awaited coffee shop at the summit (sub 2 hours is the race day plan).
With the intermittent rain cooling us off a little too much at high elevation, this cup of joe was exceptionally welcoming. The small café was a site to see in itself, with thousands of business cards from people around the world pinned to the walls. Two cups of coffee, a full plate of rice and beans and we are on our way to the dreaded down hill, and down hill it was. Within minutes, I understood why we hauled the extra weight of the rear shock all the way up here. Descending 10,000 feet on this typical La Ruta road would require a trip to the dentist without it. After 30 minutes, I could not believe that a 20-pound mountain bike can take this beating, and take it well, at that. Kudos to Specialized!!! I am running a full-suspension 29er, while Manny rocks the Epic full-suspension two-sixer. I cannot help but think we have an advantage here, especially our butts;).
As expected, the rain begins to fall, then, flush the toilet on us. Literally! As buckets of rain and fog obscure our vision, so does the stench of cow urine and crap that is being washed off the dairy farm hills onto the road. I am now cold, covered in piss and cow dung and trying to maintain focus so not to end up of laying in the mess. Nearly running off the road and into Manny, who has been waiting quite a while for me, I get a much-needed stop and laugh. Our conversation is short and sweet, “Manny, I am completely saturated in fecal matter and urine.” [Manny] “Yes Ben, u must keep your mouth closed.” We then continue on. The smiles of Nikki and Choco at the bottom of the descent, was a welcome site. In no mood to worry about on- lookers, Prado and I stripped down out of our team Sho-Air kits butt-naked, on the street. We were laughing, trying to put Nik and Choco in our previous predicament.
Later that evening, we heard on the news that the volcano we had just visited had some eruptions earlier in the day. It was said to be burping sulfur dioxide into the air, creating acid rain. Because of this, they did not allow tourists to drive up to the volcano on the common roads. So, maybe the ammonia of the cow’s urine was actually being pH- balanced quite well with the acid rain. By the way, they say drinking cow urine is good for weight loss. No joke. I think 4 days of La Ruta is a better program, though.
The race is going to be epic. I hope my words justify the experience for everyone. Thanks for following and stay tuned, for more race updates here on Team Sho-Air blog.
Thanks for reading,
Manuel Prado & Ben Bostrom
La Ruta Pre-Race Report Day 2November 10, 2009
La Ruta’s day 2 was about as welcoming as a punch in the face: 3 minute warm up to a 30 percent grade that lasted an hour and averaged about 20 percent to the top. Oh, and did I mention unfriendly pace that was being set at the front by Manny and two previous La Ruta winners? This hill was no joke! If you stop giving 100 percent, you fall over and roll down the hill. Manny and I have a sprocket combination of 27 front-36 rear, and that is just enough to keep you on the bike. As we crested the top, legs burning and back aching from our “sit down-lean over the bars” technique, I was hoping to reap the benefit of a nice down hill. If rutted slippery clay is your bag, right on. Throw in the fact that the clay build up is locking the front tire and you have a party.
The next part of day 2’s course is essentially a road race due to the constant road-paving project going on here in Costa Rica. Don’t think that this lessened the pain. These guys hammered the next 8000ft of climbing at unfriendly speed. We had a few breaks here and there with a nice tailgate lunch (thanks to Daniel Muñiz at Economy Rent a Car for our loaner pickup truck) and some of the best coffee on the planet. We had a fun group with all levels of riders, but the star in my book was a 3 time La Ruta top 50 finisher and amputee Dax Jaikel. He lost his leg training for his first La Ruta when he was hit by a car, but has not let that deter him at all. Bravo Dax!
As usual, the course continued to take crazy twists and turns, and each time we stopped, a new story of getting lost popped up. I could see how this was definitely going to be an issue. The signs are a bit obscure and the rain and fog make it difficult to find route symbols. Between route-finding and “don’t get dropped here” being beat into me every 10 mins, I forgot about the pain in my legs and the ride was over just like that. Thinking back on the ride however, I can’t understand how they can say, “If you make it through day one, your 80 percent there”. Day 2 had the steepest roads I have ever seen. They obviously dump the concrete from the top and let gravity take it course to build these roads.
Thanks for reading, Manuel Prado, Ben Bostrom.
I had no idea what to expect from La RutaNovember 6, 2009
I had no idea what to expect from La Ruta, day one. All I knew was, “If you make it through day one, your chance of finishing is very good.” This was told to me several times before the trip and pre-run by good sources. Not sure if that was to motivate me or to strike fear. The other advice goes something like this, “Don’t lose the leaders on the first climb; if you do, you will not catch them back and may get lost in the jungle.” Sweet! So, let me tell you what this entails: Hanging with a group of pure climbers on a nearly 30% grade for 30 minutes.
Driving to the beautiful beach town of Jaco was an adventure in itself. The twisty little road appeared to mimic the course. The road went up and down, as crazy drivers would try to find any way around the buses. Gnarly! We did stop at a bridge to see some crocodiles.
Upon unloading the bikes and suiting up, I realized my next issue: sweat. I was already soaked and had not even turned a pedal. Is it possible to stay hydrated for the next several hours? Day one consists of 70 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. Much of this is post-holing through mud and hike-a-bike in the jungle. With aid stations every hour this seemed like it would not be too big of an issue, except that after aid station one, there is no way to receive aid in the reserve region of the jungle for 2-3 hours, as it is inaccessible to vehicles. This is a “Do Not Get Lost” zone!
This first climb was definitely all it was cracked up to be, 30 minutes of torture with sweat leaving your body at an alarming rate. Manny Prado set a nasty pace as this was also to be an interval day as well. Once we got to the top, Manny and I took a moment to enjoy the view of the ocean and the jungle. Glad I saw it that day because, and I quote, “Ben, take a look at this beauty now. You will not see it during the race.” I knew what Manny meant—when suffering during the race you will only see the tire in front of you.
The ridge road soon dropped into the jungle where Manny and I would depart from our Economy Rent a Car support vehicle, which was my girl, Nikki and Alex (aka Choco). Off on our own now for the next few hours I was high on life to see what the jungle would bring. There were nasty, steep mud descents, some of which had to be walked, and endless small river crossings. It was common to stop a few times and lube your chain due to the mud and water. Fortunately, Manny has all of this knowledge on tap. Broken chains are a constant on this section of La Ruta. With all that mud weighing you down, river crossings were actually very welcoming: a break and bike bath every 20 minutes. The canopy of the jungle was so thick that sunscreen was not an issue either. The whole time I imagined the movie Predator and what easy prey we must be, but most likely just an indigenous animal like a puma, leopard, jaguar, or, maybe, monkeys eyeing us up.
Popping out of the jungle proved to be painful instead of a relief. We were greeted by sunshine and steep dirt roads. Manny tells me, “The race is about to begin!” All that could mean was that some nasty climbing was ahead, which means the leaders would attack again! After cruising through another beautiful small town, the hill did not disappoint. One hour of pain, followed by possibly the scariest downhill ever—so steep it has concrete to hold the dirt on the hill. An added bonus, due to the constant rain, the concrete is covered in algae. Did I mention twisty, too? If I lived on that hill, I would personally invent ABS for the bicycle. After descending to the bottom, the heat was relentless. Our jerseys were open, trying to get some swamp cooler effect to fight off the humid conditions. We pressed on. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it’s difficult to describe how hard it is to stay hydrated here. We were 6 hours into La Ruta day 1 pre-ride, one hour to go that consists of steep, short interval hills, on tired, dehydrated legs, and it’s almost too hot to eat. As we enter the last 3K to go, the course throws its last “hurrah” at us: a 30% little climb back to the small town of Santa Ana. No town was ever so welcoming, and never my legs so tired.
Thanks for reading, Manuel Prado, Ben Bostrom.
La Ruta de los Natives or Conquistadores?November 4, 2009
In 2 weeks, hundreds of people will gather in Costa Rica, the “rich coast,” to follow the arduous race across the country that follows the same journey taken by Spanish conquistador Juan de Caballon back in the 16th century. Lucky for us, we will be on our iron (in our case, carbon fiber) stallions.
How did this upcoming race come to be?
In 1992, Roman Urbina, along with a group of friends, had made the first attempt to follow Juan de Caballon’s route. Shortly after, Urbina was compelled to share this epic adventure with the rest of us. This world-class mountain bike race, attracting competitors from all around the globe, is known as La Ruta de los Conquistadores. . . or is it? Maybe, “La Ruta de los Natives” is a more accurate name for the race. Locals have actually dominated this race 14 of the 16 years that it has been in existence. Some say that the locals win because they have an unfair advantage. **twitter statement**
Local support definitely helps, but I’ve raced La Ruta the past five years and witnessed first-hand that the race is won through sheer hard work, confidence, and determination. You need to be able to drop your competition on the steepest parts of the course some as steep as 30+ % Grade. Winners include former farmers and just plain, tough people who are willing to work hard to win and defend the race. (Pretty soon, we will become Conquistadors of this beautiful land.)
Just about 500 years later we are now trying to do the same but with much better equipment, nutrition and for sure much better places to sleep at night. Something that has not change much is the dominance of the Natives, here is the list of some of the Native and Conquistador contenders names along with their accomplishments:
Jose Adrian Bonilla: Former La Ruta Champion; Road, TT and MTB National Champion; NORBA National Short Track winner; NORBA Nationals top 10 finisher; top 15 at several UCI World Cups.
Manuel Prado: Current Costa Rica XCO National Champion, 3rd at the Leadville 100, 2 Time Winner of the Vision Quest, 8th Overall NORBA Nationals, 3rd Place Overall American Mountain Classic Stage Race, 3rd Overall BC Bike Race,14th Place X-Games Flatland BMX, 5 time finisher of La Ruta, 5th overall in 2008.
Jeremiah Bishop: 3 Time USA Marathon National Champion; 4 NORBA National victories; 8th Place 2006 UCI World Championships; American Mountain Classic Stage Race Champion; Pan- American Games Gold Medalist.
Roberto Heras: 5th Place 2000 Tour de France; 3 Time Winner Vuelta a España; 6th Place 1999 Giro de Italia; 7th Place La Ruta 2008.
Tinker Juarez: 2 Time USA Olympian; 3 Time NORBA National Champion; 4 Time 24 Hour National Champion; 3 Top Ten UCI World Championships; 2nd Place La Ruta twice.
Ben Bostrom: 2nd Place 24 Hours of Moab Duo National Championships; 4th Place 24 Hours of Moab, solo; 3rd Overall West Coast Marathon Championships; 1998 AMA Superbike champion; 2008 AMA Supersport Champion; 2008, 2009 Daytona 200 winner; 2003 X-Games Supermoto Gold Medalist.
The real story of La Ruta isn't about who wins; it's about the people who spend months and even years preparing just to survive. Men and women—ranging from teenagers to 50-year-olds—show up with a smile, and finish with an even bigger smile. Never before have you seen people so happily enduring so much pain. It is almost as if La Ruta casts some mysterious love spell over them. This love is what brings us to Costa Rica for the 17th edition of the race. We will be arriving two weeks early to acclimated and pre-ride most of the stages. This year will be an awesome race to follow! During the next few days all kinds of tips will be posted about our experience in Costa Rica. Our goal is to motivate you to do this race and make it much easier to survive the elements and whatever else the race decides to throw at you.
The first thing we’d like to share with you is a packing checklist containing all the items you could possibly need for a race like this. you can download the checklist from here
Thanks for reading, Manuel Prado, Ben Bostrom.
1 pit stop, 2 sand plants, 5th..October 20, 2009
1 pit stop, 2 sand plants, 5th..WTF! I learned nothing at Moab apparently.
Spook Cross next week. I am going as a girl. See how the boys feel about a girl giving it to em:).
24 Hours of MoabOctober 14, 2009
Ben recently raced in the 24 Hours at Moab Mountain Bike Race. Here are some photos from his adventure. Ben loves his 29er.
On the mendJuly 10, 2009
Ben had surgery to repair an injured elbow following the July 4th weekend races at Laguna Seca. He dropped us a note, and we're happy to learn that he's on the mend. Get well, Ben, and see you in Moab (if not sooner)!
Been bouncing back and forth to the docs all week, then unknowingly till now. Drove right by u guys this am. Gotta stop in next time and check u out. I just got the 3gs iPhone. It has a better
camera and does video. Will be sending funny stuff in soon. On the mend now. Twitter is great. Super cool for the fans. Thanks again for all your support. You guys are awesome!
November 1, 2010
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July 10, 2009