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La Ruta

Fanny Paquette, elite cyclist, on her personal conquest journey of the Conquerors route to inspire you with her confessions, to participate in the adventure of your life!

HOW DID SHE KNOW ABOUT THE CONQUISTADOR ROUTE AND WHAT MOTIVATED HER TO PARTICIPATE?
I remember seeing a photo in a magazine of a cyclist with a suffering face on the road, covered in mud and his bike hanging on his shoulder. I thought, ” What fun!”Suddenly for those things in life, I received an invitation from the Organization of the route where they invited me as a journalist to cover the event. He trembled with emotion but also with fear.

WHAT CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION THE MOST ON DAY 1 OF THE COMPETITION?
It was definitely the miles of knee-deep mud through which we had to traverse, too, the deep rivers, the variations in temperature from 32 degrees to 80 degrees F.

WHEN DID YOU ARRIVE IN COSTA RICA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE RACE?
I arrived in Costa Rica on October 29, 2007 with a brand new Team Element bike from Rocky Mountain Bicycles and a credit card heavily indebted for last-minute expenses.

HOW DID THE OTHER RIVAL CYCLISTS FARE ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE ROUTE?
Most of the other competitors had much more experience than me. They were smarter as they fed themselves during the non-stop journey and thus did not waste much time. I instead, as a good rookie, stopped to eat and hydrate. I also stopped to wash my bike in a river losing 2 hours.

CONFESSIONS OF THE ELITE CYCLIST: WAS THERE ANYTHING UNEXPECTED IN THIS EDITION OF THE ROUTE?
The most unexpected was the celebration of the 15 years of the Route and the sum of one more day. This resulted in an additional 36 hellish kms. The day began with beautiful views up and down valleys. Life was very enjoyable! I ran into some cyclists from my village with whom I was finally able to talk. For everyone it was the first time on the route so we passed the time very quickly.

“I FELT LIKE A STAR AND CHARGED ENERGY ENJOYING THE FRESH SMELLS OF VEGETATION UNTIL WE REACHED THE TOP. HERE THE FREEZING RAIN BEGAN AND THE COMPETITORS STOPPED TO PUT ON THEIR COATS. I THOUGHT THAT THE DAY WOULD SOON END BECAUSE WHAT FOLLOWED WAS A QUICK DESCENT OF 22 MILES (30 MINUTES MAXIMUM), BUT I WAS WRONG, VERY WRONG; IT WAS A COLD DOWNHILL OF 2 HOURS.”

Andreas Hester on the route of the Mountain Bike Route.
Andreas Hester welcomes an old friend for a long and lonely journey
HOW DID HE FACE DAY 3 OF THE COMPETITION AND TELL US WHAT HE LIVED?
I knew Day Three would be my best day. We should only go up 22 miles and down another 22. I started with a slow step by having to traverse sections of pavement in the city. I’m not very right-handed walking on paved roads and I don’t like it either, so we barely get to dirt roads grab more speed. I passed several groups of cyclists for the first time in the competition and people would tell me motivating things like; go ahead girl, you’re strong! which encouraged me a lot. I felt like a star and charged energy enjoying the fresh smells of greenery until we reached the top. Here the freezing rain began and the competitors stopped to put on their coats. I thought that the day would soon end because what followed was a quick descent of 22 miles (30 minutes maximum), but I was wrong, very wrong; it was a cold downhill of 2 hours.

IN WHAT POSITION DID DAY 3 OF THE ROUTE END?
Surprisingly I finished in ninth place that day and filled with so much mud that when crossing the finish line it was impossible to tell if I was a woman or a man. A man from the area to my surprise ran up to me and poured several liters of water over my head. I could hardly breathe but it was fun and welcome the gesture.

HOW WAS YOUR LODGING THAT NIGHT?
That night, my last, I stayed with all the media that covered the event that year in luxurious B & B; a Swiss-style villa within the lush greenery in the mountains. It was spectacular to sleep my last night in such a beautiful place but we could not enjoy it for long since the next day we had to go at 5:00 am.

HOW DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE CLOSE TO THE FINISH LINE?
As I rode my bike on the sand and submerged in water I heard the waves of the Caribbean Sea bursting with force. This sound was mixed with cheerful music that filled my ears and heart with great emotion when I thought that I was going to finish and reach the finish line.

CONFESSIONS OF THE ELITE CYCLIST: WHAT DID YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING FULFILLED YOUR GOAL?
I felt very happy to have managed to beat the toughest mountain biking competition in the world. I felt stronger than before. I find that life is much more fulfilling when new challenges are imposed. I still have moments when feelings resurface. My heart begins to beat faster and my eyes fill with tears that go down my cheeks. I am so grateful that I was able to participate and finish the route of the Conquerors. It’s something I always think about throughout my life. I’m so proud of myself!

I finished ninth overall in the women’s category.

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