Anyone who’s been in a race knows that the rush of crossing the finish line is followed almost immediately by the sinking question “What’s next?” The longer the training leading up to the race, the more acute the question. So it wasn’t long after last year’s Road to Ironman series that we were already planning something bigger, inspired by a friendly reader inquiry from Mr. Dirk Shaw, a Senior Vice President at Ogilvy, husband, father of three and endurance cycling fanatic.

You may be familiar with Dirk, who has been contributing regularly to GP on the cycling beat for several months. Dirk was knee-deep in the growing sport of mountain biking when we met him, and was training for the Fool’s Gold 100-mile race in Dahlonega, GA, in September. This was meant to be the subject of our summer series. But amidst the excitement and spirit of one(self)-upsmanship, he ended up registered for La Ruta de Los Conquistadores, a coast-to-coast race mountain bike race in Costa Rica ranking among the hardest in the world: 193 miles. 5 mountain ranges. 23,000 feet of elevation gain.

Nearly a year after his training began Dirk called from Costa Rica, where he had just completed the final mission in The Road to La Ruta: the race itself. He explained how he’d learned to enjoy the process as much as the culminating event. Process over product. Wise words, Mr. Shaw.

But we also know that race day happens to be both process and product, when reason and reflection give way to adrenaline and ecstasy — or despair. Deep, raw despair that people in the industry call “injury”, “mechanical failure”, or simply “Did Not Finish”. Luckily, as Dirk’s grueling journey from coast to coast and peak to peak unfolded, we had someone on hand to document the epic highs and lows. Now we present the final chapter in the Road to La Ruta series, our film of the epic race.

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