Román Urbina, director of the world-famous La Ruta de Conquistadores mountain bike stage race, was just inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame was established in 1988 to document and record the history of this burgeoning new sport. It honors the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the sport of mountain biking.
Urbina’s “La Ruta” as it is commonly known, was the first event of its kind, and has been run annually since 1992. Crossing mountainous terrain over multiple days of racing, from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, the event has been lauded as one of the most difficult and strenuous races in the world.
Roy Wallack, a journalist and six-time La Ruta finisher, introduced Urbina to a literal Who’s Who of mountain biking history in the gathered crowd. He recounted stories of the challenges of the race, Urbina’s passion for mountain biking, and how it inspired so many. Wallack recounted Urbina’s remarks about why he made this such a difficult and strenuous race. “It is the hard things that allow you to find the truth in yourself,” Urbina told him, a statement that had a life-long impact on Wallack.
There are now dozens of mountain bike stage races being conducted in La Ruta’s pioneering multi-day format. Events such as the BC Bike Race and Breck Epic in North America, Trans Andes Challenge in South America, Cape Epic in South Africa, and many more have Urbina to thank. They have provided the ultimate challenge for tens of thousands of mountain biking enthusiasts — from pros to weekend warriors — who want to experience a new level of adventure, excitement, fun and motivation.
Notably, Urbina is the first Costa Rican to be inducted into any sporting hall of fame. A worthy honor not only for himself, but for all of Costa Rica. The inductee class of 2016 also included: Hank Barlow who started Mountain Bike magazine in 1985; Missy “the Missile” Giove, a downhill racer who dominated the women’s fields for many years; Matt Fritzinger, who began with four students on a high school cycling club in 1998 and turned mountain biking into a high school sport now operating in 18 U.S. states with over 11,000 students racing; and Jeff Archer, curator and founder of the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology (Mombat), who passed away in July in a tragic accident.
This recognition is well-deserved. Not only did Urbina create a whole new genre of mountain bike racing, but his contributions have helped put Costa Rica on the mountain bike tourism map. His efforts pushed the limits of mountain bike racing, and have had a positive and lasting impact on the sport as a whole.
The 2016 La Ruta de Conquistadores race will start in Jacó on November 3, and end in Limón on November 5.