Manny Prado

The Costa Rican transplant landed himself inside the top 10 overall N.M.B.S. series standings for 2008. Prado then backed that up with a 5th place finish at the grueling La Ruta Epic race. Look for Manny to be the third member of Sho-Air/Specialized's three pronged attacked at the 2009 U.S. Cup series.

Right after getting done with El Reto del Quetzal

October 22, 2010

Right after getting done with El Reto del Quetzal in Guatemala the plan was to catch a flight to California to do some more training, then head over to Mexico for the Baja Ultra Endurance race.

A lot of people were concerned about the safety issues going down into Mexico, but to be honest I did not have any issues. The whole time there I felt pretty safe. This was my 3rd time doing the event with a win and a 3rd last year. I was ready to give the local Ensenada town a good show, my fitness was good and having had won my last 2 races gave me a lot of confidence going in. The warm welcome from the riders and media at this event is always memorable. Although I never think that I am a personality or anything like that they do treat me like one. After getting my stuff to the Hotel the plan was to ride the first part of the course to spin the legs, and get ready for race the following day.

With 100kms to go we all gathered in the streets of Ensenada. While most of the town was at sleep at 7am and my muscles were firing hard to get some separation from the pack and try to get the KOM at km 12. Two riders were still with me at about 7kms, but Miguel Valadez one of Mexico's best MTB riders was not having that, so he turned the screws and the acceleration got rid of the 3rd rider. Last year I was doing way too much work before the top of the climb, and end up paying for it by loosing the $500 KOM by just a few meters. This year I rode a little smarter and got the best out of the deal collecting the $500 KOM.

For the rest of the race Miguel and I worked together to put some more time on the chasing pack of riders. Over three quarters into the race Miguel was still riding strong, I knew right then that getting rid of him was not going to be easy. I made about 3 attempts to drop him, but only to get caught later on. I did this a few more times till the gap was over a minute, by this point I was about 8kms away from the finish. With a small lead I knew that I needed to continue to pedal hard all the way to the finish in order to take the win. By the time I came across the finish line all the local press was there including a local radio station who was broadcasting the race live.

I was very happy to take the win in such fashion, a real fight all the way to the line with Mexico's best riders, as well as some real strong US riders who decided to come over despite all the bad press the area is getting in the US media.

I will for sure coming back next year to do this race again, each year I look forward to the very warm welcoming they give me. I almost feel at home when I am in Ensenada.

Now some more prep for La Ruta, and I’ll be ready to go for the biggest race of the year.

Till next time amigos,

Manny

When I said last week that it was raining

October 5, 2010

When I said last week that it was raining a lot here in Costa Rica I was not joking, 12 days of almost straight rain everyday all day, this did not stop over 700 riders from showing up at the Clasica Vuelta La Soledad, this event was a mix of teams of 2 racing for about 90kms on the dirt and solo racing on the road for 108kms.

The MTB race went well but not good enough for 1st, the duo team of Deiber Esquivel and Jonathan Carballo from Team Economy-Blue-City Bank rode a strong tempo and took home the win. Eddie Perez my team mate and I rode a strong race as well and despite all the chasing we could not catch the duo Train of Carballo and Esquibel. The great views of this race course was one of the main attractive, although I did not have much time to peak around I did on a couple of occasions and the view of the Pacific Ocean from about 500mts above sea level was outstanding.

The following day the race was 108kms long but on the Road, I woke up feeling good and mentally I was ready for nothing other than a victory, the way out of town was a very long rolling road with some climbs long enough to break the spirit of most of the pack, Juan Solis and I rode very hard out of the town of Playa Samara with a blistering pace we were riding at the front with another rider Robert Nunes who was struggling to hold Solis's wheel, quickly it was just Juan and I at the front, the plan was to ride hard all the way to Nicolla town about 37kms from the start and have a good gap on the rest of the pack so we could ride the rest of the way at a steadier tempo. When it came time to define the race in the last kilometer we knew the gap to the chasing pack at this time was over 5 minutes so all I had to do was to win the sprint, Solis made a few attempts to get away but I was glued to his wheel and in the last 100mts I made my move and with all my 1200watts of pure sprint power I was able to take the win. The event had great TV and newspaper coverage, the race interview was aired on channel 7 that night and the story ran on all the major newspapers the following day.

This weekend will be another great chance to train and get ready for La Ruta, with a major 3 day Stage MTB race in Guatemala Eddie Perez and I will be teaming up to try to take the overall win and get some really good quality miles for the 2010 La Ruta. Story about this race will be on next week's update, thanks for reading.

Rain, Rain and more Rain

September 29, 2010

The end of September brings a lot of rain to Costa Rica, and with 2 heavy storms hitting the country I have had to ride in the rain pretty much everyday. This did not slow down my spirit a little bit. I got on the bike each day and did as I was supposed to, this past week I rode for about 22 hours, and more than half of that was under heavy rain, both my road and MTB bike need a lot of work. Today I will be spending my day off the bike doing a complete overhaul on both bikes to bring them up to speed. This weekend we have a 1 day long Endurance MTB race here in Costa Rica, called, Vuelta La Soledad, weird thing is that you must ride with a team-mate yet the race is called, "Vuelta Loneliness" I will be riding with 10 time La Ruta Finisher Eddie Perez from team Seven Capital. Eddie has finished 2nd on two occasions at La Ruta, and the rest of the time in the top 10, so we should match up pretty good for this race. In fact just this Friday we rode the first half of day 2 of La Ruta as well as the end of day 1 at the same time, with a total time of 5 hours in the saddle, we both learned that we have good legs for this race coming up.

Check back next week to see how it plays out

Chau!

starting last weekend

September 20, 2010

Well this update will cover the last two weeks, starting last weekend when I decided to enter a local National Race as part of the Endurance calendar. This being the last one for 2010, the top contenders were all lined up at the front, including 5 time La Ruta Champ Federico Ramirez. The course went up Volcan Poas then back down some crazy fast-rocky fire-roads, it was perfect to test my legs, and find out how I was doing. The first part of the course was a steady climb with an occasional hike-a-bike section. By the time we reached the top I was with the lead group, unfortunately half way down the hill with 15k to go I got a rear flat tire. This was enough to set me back to 6th place, but again it was good for finding out where I was with my prep for the La Ruta.

The Monday after the race a large group of athletes from around the globe arrived in Costa Rica to preview the La Ruta Course. The 10 riders were lead by Chris Carmichael along with 3 other CTS coaches; just yesterday the whole group ended the traverse across the country. I was happy to show them around, and of course happy to see the racecourse for myself, which will help me better prepare for this years race.

Well I have to get back to eating breakfast so I can get caught up on my calorie intake, and get ready for another good week of training leading onto the 2010 La Ruta.

MP

Paseo Recreativo

September 7, 2010

Well Marathon Nationals were cancelled this past weekend so the great legs I had were used elsewhere, I've heard of an organized group ride called locally "Paseo Recreativo" with a short race at then end of it with $100 on the line, I made my way there this Sunday, but to make it more interesting I rode from a near by town 30k away, did the group ride, the race then rode back for a total of 110kms on the MTB. I felt pretty tired after all that riding but it was a great way to get to know the area and get some endurance going. The race was pretty fun too with many locals line up bagging bars for the wholeshot I can assure you that is was not easy to earn those $100.

Next week I will be riding some parts of the La Ruta Course with a large group of Athletes from CTS, details about that to come next week.

Here are a couple of images of the riders and their machines from this weekend's race.

Taking time off the bike

August 17, 2010

Taking time off the bike can really help not only rebuild some of the broken down muscles, but also helps you get motivated to start training again.

It's been about 10 days of training so far after the break, the first few days were hard, but with each day that passes I feel better and better. Things here in Costa Rica are also starting to fall into place, and I’m almost back to my old routine, you know wake up early, stretch, have breakfast, ride, lunch, shower, nap, snack, etc.... I am also starting to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night with is helping a lot in my recovery.

In the past 10 days I have done about 700kms on the bike, and gained about 45k feet in accumulate elevation gain. By now climbing feels normal, and I don't mind if the ride has 3k of elevation, or 10k is just more climbing but I don't mind it.

There is a 3-day road stage race going on this weekend, let's see how the body does as we start with an uphill time trail, then go into a 90km road race, then an 80km circuit race, check back next week for details.

Later!

MP

Well I can’t really complain

August 9, 2010

Well I can’t really complain that I’ve had many injuries or illness in the past 3 seasons I’ve been racing as a Pro, but sometimes as they say when it rains, it pours. This year has been one thing after the next, the most recent was the strep throat right before BC Bike race, since then it feels like I’ve had something viral that keeps me from fully doing all my training the right way.

After talking to my CTS coach, and Scott Tedro, Team Sho-Air owner we all have decided to take a break and allow the body to heal and recover. My fitness for the Leadville Trail 100 race is less than what I would like, and to risk getting even more sick is not worth it. For now I will be focusing on resting and starting my preparation for the 2010 La Ruta de los Conquistadores, if all goes well I should have about 2 months of good training by the time the race kicks off in mid November.

I will miss you all in Leadville this year, but I will be back next year with better fitness if the body, and the training allows it.

Thank you all for the kind words of support and a huge special thanks to my sponsor Team Sho-Air for being there all this time, especially right now.

Details of my preparation for the La Ruta race will be posted daily on my webpage, facebook and Twitter as well as a detailed weekly update on Team Sho-Air's site.

Stay tuned!

MP

Back Home

July 14, 2010

After a hard week of racing in British Columbia getting back home was actually refreshing. I’ve been getting lots of sleep and resting to try and to get healthy again, hopefully I’ll have the engine firing on all 4 cylinders for Nationals, which will take place this Saturday July 18th.

As part of my recovery I spent some time at the beach, this past weekend, I packed a bag with some surf shorts and sun tan lotion and hit the road, don’t worry along with my surf shorts was my Specialized Tarmac SL3. After a bodysurfing session I had a snack, and headed out for some road riding along the coast, you would think it is all-flat, but it is not, about 2000ft was the elevation gain on my 2 hour ride.

Well all that is left is the big race this weekend for our Costa Rica National XCO Championships, I will be pre-riding the course tomorrow, and the race is set to take place this Saturday, more details to come next week. Wish me good luck!

MP

Post B.C.

July 6, 2010

I’m sure all of us have experienced the fact that regardless of taking all the necessary measurements, and making sure you prepare as best as possible for a race something can always happen. Usually my biggest fear is an injury or getting sick, the 2010 BC Bike Race was looking pretty good for me as my handling skills and fitness were all in tune. On my way up to the US for a final prep before heading to Canada I got something on the plane, airport, or in Orange County, strep throat and feelings of fatigue all day were some of the symptoms I was having, just before the race I started to feel better so I thought that the race was going to be a good one, but after the first stage I found out that I had nothing when it came to real racing, that fatigue feeling was still there and each time I tried going hard for more than 2-3 minutes my body will force me to slow down to the point that I could only ride a medium tempo pace.

Regardless of that horrible feeling the downhill’s and technical sections of the race were a blast, my Specialized Epic with Fast Track tires handled the British Columbia single-track like no other bike, my Specialized fork was set up a little softer with the brain slightly open so it would make it really plush on the roots and rocky terrain we had all week. Keep in mind that this race has about 70% single-track so bike choice and set up is very important.

After 8 days of riding some of the best single-track in the world, I will now take it easy in order to rest and get ready for the XCO Costa Rica National Championships. I am the current National Champion so defending the Jersey is the main goal, I just need to get healthy again, get some rest and prepare myself mentally to have another great race like I did last year.

Nationals will take place in 2 weeks, stay tuned!

MP

214 Races total....

March 24, 2010

214 Races total with many of them being really hard on equipment and only 2 of them I have not finished! One of those races was Vision Quest this past weekend here in Orange County, yes my own backyard, I know. My new Specialized Epic performed really well, but when you have two riders team up against you at one point or another if you don't pay attention, and start to take too much risk, something’s got to give, this weekend that price was paid in full. I was chasing hard down one of the major descents when bad luck got the best of the sidewall of my rear tire and put a nice cut in it. I quickly put a tube and got going just to break my chain on one of the technical uphill climbs on the course. If you think that was it my rear tire went flat again, at this point I was running with my bike to aid station 2 where I had a spare Roval SL Wheel set waiting for me with fresh tires. By then I was so far back that challenging the leading group was impossible as they were more than 15 minutes ahead with 2 victories at this race I knew I can finish it, but my goal was to have a fare chance to defend the number 1 plate, and bad luck took that chance away. Next year I will be back wearing some kind of lucky charm to avoid this!

We have a good weekend of racing ahead of us here in Southern California, the Fontana National will start with the cross country race on Saturday, and short track and super-D on Sunday.

Some more great news is that the Costa Rica National Federation has selected me along with Federico Ramirez, and Paolo Montoya to represent Costa Rica at the Pan-American-Continental Championships to take place in Guatemala. More to come on this race, stay tuned.

MP

March 2010 marks my 3rd season as a Pro

March 17, 2010

March 2010 marks my 3rd season as a Pro, as each year that passes I feel like I make a little more progress especially in the Cross Country and Short Track style races. The difference from a long distance Endurance race like the Leadville 100 or La Ruta is that you really have to manage your efforts, your nutrition in an Endurance race is very critical compared to an XC race where all you need is a couple of Gels and about 40-50oz of hydration to make it. The good thing is that my body is adapting little by little to the violent hard efforts required to race XC and Short Track. This past weekend at the Bonelli Park US Cup Triple Crown, I was able to come out with a top 10 overall after the 3 events including the Super-D, now with some more speed work I expect to step it up a little closer to the top 5-8 at the national level races where all the top riders come out to race, at the end of this races I always feel like I get a lot out of them just so I can become a better Endurance Racer and at the same time rub shoulders with the Continent's best riders.

This Saturday is the Vision Quest Endurance Race here in Orange County, I have won it 2 times and I'm hoping to defend the title against some top endurance riders, more to come on that on next weekend's update.

Till then,

Manuel Prado

It’s been 2 weeks back in the US,

March 5, 2010

It’s been 2 weeks back in the US, and now I'm racing at the Sagebrush Safari, big weather change compared to the 75-80F back in Costa Rica. Despite the heavy downpour all day Saturday and pre-riding in very wet 40 degree weather the day before the race conditions were awesome! Super tacky track and the occasional mud 2-wheel drift were all part of this really fun weekend.

The pace at the start of the race was mellow with one rider getting away towards the top. This was the perfect setup for my teammate Sid Taberlay to attack at the top of the climb, before heading into the single track, mission accomplished by Sid with Jeremiah Bishop chasing

all day in second place, and myself coming in third it was a great day for Team Sho-Air/ Specialized.

Looking forward to the first stop of the 2010 H2O Overdrive Triple Crown All Mountain Series #1 – Bonelli, should be another great weekend of XC racing.

Stay tune

Back in California

February 24, 2010

Funny how it is winter here in California and in Costa Rica summer is in full swing. I guess that makes a perfect combo for a pro rider, as soon as winter kicks in I head over to Costa Rica to get my base training done, and once the race season starts I then head back to the US to race after logging pretty good training miles. My CTS coach Adam Pulford is doing a great job a keeping me fit and learning how my body works.

I have a full plate this past week with some really hard uphill intervals, right after getting back from Costa Rica. Luckily each ride I did back home had a ton of climbing so anything here in Orange County doesn't seem so bad.

The first official race of the season is this weekend at Lake Morena in San Diego California with the very famous Sage Brush Safari. This is a great race course to kick off the season, let's see what the legs decide to do this weekend, I will tell you all about it next week.

Thanks for reading.

Manuel Prado

As I write this

February 16, 2010

As I write this all I'm telling myself is goodbye summer, good-bye 32km climbs, good bye family, I'm leaving for now, but I will be back again as soon as time allows it.

On the other hand the highlight of last week was the 7th annual Ticos Jam. The event is another dream come true, and a huge goal of mine to support the sport that kept me out of trouble when I needed it the most. Flatland also gave me a chance to compete around the world, and I inherited some good handling skills to that I’ve kept with me through MTB racing career.

This year’s event had a special guest and a living legend Jesse Puente, from Los Angeles California, made his way down to Costa Rica to share more than 25 years of experience with all kinds of original tricks in front of the hundreds of spectators and the many riders who visited us from all over the world.

What a day we had, impacting all the riders who attended this years Ticos Jam. Now that the event is over they will go home, and practice hard all year and come back next year to try to grab a top 3 spot and get crowned as the Ticos Jam champion. This year Jorge Vasques from Panama won the Ticos Jam crown, congratulations to him.

Well next week I will be talking about my return to the US, and the races that we have just around the corner.

Talk soon!

MP

I can say it is pure luck

February 11, 2010

I can say it is pure luck, but sometimes that’s not the case, I believe and what many people say "things happen for a reason" this is what I keep thinking with this long trip to Costa Rica. Never before have I had a chance to train like this in the early part of my race season, perfect weather, Epic rides with 30+Km climbs, and the best part the views I get to enjoy.

Last week my CTS coach Adam Pulford had me do a very solid block of training, the best part of it took place on Saturday and Sunday, back-to-back 5 hour rides. The best part is that each time you head out to ride in this part of the country is almost like a unwritten rule that you will accumulate about 3000 feet of climbing every 2 hours, so just last week I rode about 60,000 feet of total elevation gain, luckily for me my new S-Works Tarmac made it easier to climb those thousands of vertical feet.

Well all good things must come to an end, my training days in Costa Rica are almost over, by the time I write next week's update I will be back in the USA, I'm hoping I will bring some of the sunny days with me back to California.

See you all next week when I get back.

MP

Sunny training 75F days are almost over

January 26, 2010

It's being almost 6 weeks of perfect training here in warm and sunny Costa Rica. As usual the hard part of training here is that the terrain is always going up and down, and there are not many flat roads unless you drive about 60 minutes, that is exactly what a small group of us did this past weekend, we drove to a little town called Bajo Rodriguez, from there we did a pretty cool loop of mostly flat road riding, my Carmichael Training Systems coach Adam Pulford told me to take my Specialized Tarmac to ride at about 33-38KMH on the flat roads. After a good warm up I got right to work and kept a solid 35KMH average for about 100kms. The views were awesome along the ride and on part of the route we came across some big Pineapple fields that brought many memories. Each time I looked at them I rode even faster knowing that there is nothing harder than working in those fields and how easy I have it now days.

Sometime ago I had heard that medical treatment in Costa Rica was a lot cheaper than in the US, and that many Americans come to the country to get work done with the same quality, but at a significantly lower price. Well now I have to agree 100% with that, I just had my wisdom teeth pulled out, a deep cleaning, 9 fillings and braces all for less than $800. I heard that most Americans come here, get the work done, take a 2 week vacation, and still go back to the US spending less money than they would have in the states.

Well now all I have to do is endure the pain for another day, and resume training tomorrow were I will enjoy another kind of pain: Vo2 Max Intervals!

I will let you know how those go on next week update.

Till the next time.

MP

Summer time is in full swing...

January 18, 2010

Summer time is in full swing here in Costa Rica, and the first few races of the year are already happening in Costa Rica. One of them has a big name The Clasica Palmarin, on its 15th anniversary attracted all the best riders from the country as well as a huge number of cycling fans. This race happens at the same time as the Fiestas Civicas Regionales in Palmares, witch happens to be only 20 minutes away from my house in San Ramon. The ride to the start line made for a great warm up, being that this was the first race of the season all the riders were anxious, which made for a super fast start. My legs did alright considering the high volume of miles I have done in the past 6 weeks, but not enough to challenge the eventual winner and silver medaliest at the Pan-American games Paolo Montoya. I ended up 5th overall out of 65 pro riders. Taking 4th was Marconi Duran, 3rd Enrrique Artavia, 2nd Federico Ramirez and 1st Paolo Montoya my time was 2 hours even, the course was 23 miles with 7000 feet of climbing.

I had a blast at the first race of the season and I'm looking forward to more in the upcoming months. Some of the events coming up for me are the US Cup and the Pro XCT as well as the Pan-American games to take place in Guatemala this April, more detail on that to come in

future updates.

7 good days of training

December 29, 2009

I’ve gotten in 7 good days of training so far here in Costa Rica, almost anywhere I go is up or down a hill, not very many flats here in the town of San Ramon, Alajuela, Costa Rica. In 7 days I have done almost 710 kilometers and about 35.000 feet of elevation gain. I have always wanted to improve my climbing skills, and I think this may be the trick that will make me a better climber. There is a 2-kilometer area in town called El Plano, and if you need to do a recovery ride then you have to do it here. It takes about 5 minutes per lap and if you have to do 90 minutes . . . . . well you do the math, that is a lot of laps. I just head over to somewhere else to see the scenery and not get dizzy by the endless circles.

I must admit that today's ride from San Ramon to Bajo Rodriguez was one of the best ones, despite the 6000+ Feet elevation gain in only 50miles, but the scenery made it all worth it. On the way back a colorful Toucan flew right in front of me as I was going up the hill on the way

home.

I did not bring any gels somehow, but each day I stop at the local fruit stand or at the small Soda as they call them here, they are like small little restaurants. I get a fruit salad or sometimes a Chorreada, this will cost me about the same as a GU, I just hope it will be a better choice for me.

Well that is it, legs are sore but I know I’m making good progress. The food is awesome, and I have plenty more training to do! I’m looking forward to it, and enjoying the time back in Costa Rica.

Feliz Navidad!

Manuel Prado

It's funny how much of a change it is

December 16, 2009

It's funny how much of a change it is to come from Costa Rica to Southern California. After taking a 3-week break off the bike it is now time to get back to training, and start laying the foundation for 2010. The first few rides back the OC were wet and cold, despite the rain I still headed out and did my ride, not much of a indoor trainer or roller kind of guy I rather go out and play on the rain. I guess that also come with a price, as I'm typing this I have a little bid of a sore throat so I had to back off a little, to rest and not make it any worse.

I'm hoping to feel better soon! I'm heading back to Costa Rica for a few weeks to renew my work visa, and while I’m down there I play on putting in some long hours to build a good base mile. While I’m not too happy to leave my wife for the holidays, I will make the best of it with my training and with the rest of my relatives back in the place I still call home, Costa Rica.

Check back next week, more to come about training and routes.

This past weekend was a blast,

December 9, 2009

The annual Rogers Cup took place at the local Como Street group ride, over 300 road riders came to see if they could “hang" with the front group, and hopefully make it over the Wall climb as well as the famous Cooks Corner climb. Unfortunately for those that where not very fit, they got dropped and had to chase all the way through the canyon. The pace at the front was super fast, and those who lost contact with the front group never made it back. Despite taking a break, and being off the bike for almost 3 weeks I'm still enjoying some left over fitness from La Ruta. After climbing more than 50000 feet in Costa Rica in just 4 days you can bet that I was going to take the 3 KOMs along the route on the 2009 Rogers Cup. I have to tell you that I would of liked to have won the sprint as well, but unfortunately I cannot sprint against top sprinters such as Brian Lopes and Demarke who end up winning the event. I still had a lot of fun, for what will be marking the end of my 3-week break. I will be getting back into full training mode, more details on what is coming up as far as training in next week’s update.

Take care,

Manuel Prado

La Ruta Race Report

December 2, 2009

2009 La Ruta Race Report

By now you already know all the details of the first 3 days of this race, if not our Pre-Ride reports 'look under latest news' will tell you everything from distance to elevation gain to even the gradient of the steeper parts of the climbs. What I will like to tell you about is how the whole race unfolded from my perspective. What started 6 years ago with a dream turned out to be a real cool story to share with all of you, before I leave it out I will like to do a recap of the results from my first La Ruta to today: 2004 44th Place Overall, ironically that year I got the number 1 plate, 2005 21st Place Overall, 2006 13th Place Overall, 2007 11th Place overall after getting lost on day 2, 2008 5th Place Overall, 2009 1st Place, before going on with all the details I will like to thank my wife, Team Sho-Air: Scott Tedro, Ty Kady, Ben Bostrom, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, Economy Rent-a-Car, Daniel Muñiz, Alex Mendez and family, Nikki Hale, Luis Rueda, Amber Neben, Shimano USA, Specialized Bicycles, Rock N’ Road Cyclery, Carmichael Training Systems, Adam Pulford, Dynamic Touch Massage, Core Chiropractic, everybody at the local Como Street group ride, Max Taam, Lance Armstrong, Dave Jordaan, Andres Brenes, José Adrian Bonilla “Champu”, Paolo Montoya, Jeremiah Bishop, Tinker Juarez, Dax Jaikel “Gallo” and Fecoci.

Day 0

After arriving to Jaco beach on our vehicle rented from Economy Rent-a-Car we headed down south on the paved Costanera road, my friend Alex drove the scooter and I just followed, the goal was to do some motor-pacing not too fast but hard enough to activate the muscles and get them ready for what was to come the next day, 90 minutes total with 2 sessions of 30 minutes each at 45KPH on the flat road that goes along the coast was the perfect workout to get the legs and mind ready for tomorrow’s suffer fest. Once done with the workout we had lunch and picked up the race bag, around 6PM we had dinner got our stuff ready and went to bed at 8PM.

Day 1

I had set the alarm for 3am but my iPhone’s time was still set at California local time 2 hours back, so the alarm never sounded, luckily Ben Bostrom was up and his noise was enough to wake me up. 4 pancakes and 2 good cups of Costa Rican coffee later I was ready to hit the start line. No more than 5 minutes and we were at the first climb. luckily the pace was not super fast, for me the tempo was manageable, 2 attacks got away and 2 Spaniards got almost 2 minutes on us, but their advantage shrank as we started walking, riding and hiking on the heavy mud, just days before when we pre-rode stage one the mud areas were fairly dry and most of it was rideable, but today the mud was the worst I've seen in the past 6 years, this was due to the heavy rain we had during the the past 3 days. Somewhere in the middle of the Carara National Park (the muddy area) my bike got really muddy and I had to stop for about 2 minutes to dig the mud out of it, the lead group got away what they didn’t know was that the worst hike-a-bike section was to come, once there I was able to see them and by the time we were almost out of the Carara National Park I was inside the lead group again, 7 of us made it out of there but very shortly only 5 of us were left at the front of the race.

3 of the riders at the front were from Spain another from Austria and myself, the first rider to abandon the group was Roberto Heras, then it was Milton Ramos who got detached somewhere at the start of the biggest climb of the day, the ascent to Grifo Alto, this climb is all paved and the pace was fast and furious, luckily earlier before the climb the Austrian rider Heinz Zörweg needed some chain lube and I was the first one to offer it to him, little did I know that this gesture will eventually lead to the Austrian doing most of the pace setting up this 1 hour long climb, the Masters B rider rode such hard tempo that the last Spaniard could not even hold his wheel, once I realized this I rode across the gap and started working with the Austrian who looked like did not needed much help since he was comfortable doing most of the work, we rode hard all the way to the finish and by the time we entered the last 300 meters I had the front of the race and a clear shot at the sprint finish, I was in such shock that I even forgot to raise my hands across the line. After the many congratulations I headed over and thanked the Austrian for all his hard work. The next rider came 7 minutes later, Marc Trayter from Spain was now my closest rival since Heinz the Austrian rider was part of the Masters B category and somehow I knew that tomorrow the overall positions were going to shuffle a little, I was not to worry because all I was going to do was to control the race and mark my rivals.

Day 2

Last night I slept ok, I wish I could of slept more but well we needed to be at the start line right at 6am. Legs felt good today as well, sore but good, I rode around for about 25 minutes then came to the line to get the yellow leaders jersey and the applause of all the riders, as usual the jersey did not fit and somehow it felt like it weighted a lot (not the jersey but the weight it carried), despite that I still rode at the front and rode like the race leader I now was, 5 minutes into the race and we were at the first climb of the day, the crew from Spain was all over the front as well as the Cannondale team and rather than riding a steady pace they all decided to start surging and attacking the yellow jersey wearer, I did not panic at all because I knew the climb was about 1 hour long and some sections were very steep and soon they were going to get discourage.

Near the top 3 riders were able to gap me and gain about 30-40 seconds, in that group was the riders I needed to watch Mark Trayter, Jeremiah Bishop, and the now emerging Citi-Bank/Economy Rent-a-car rider Deiber Esquivel, right then I realized that Mark had good legs and I needed to watch him today. By the time we reached the top the leading group had about 50 seconds on me, but the next section was a 20 minute downhill and I knew that my Specialized Epic was going to close this time difference, the first rider I passed was Jeremiah Bishop, then Deiber and by the Bottom I was riding next to Marc who at this point was indicating me that he could also descent well.

After some more rocky fire roads we then entered the pavement and now it was Deiber, Marc myself and Milton Ramos who was also riding a S-Works Epic, no wonder why he also closed the gap so fast. This leading group worked well together and now we were also putting time on the whole Cannondale team who to me represented a threat by the large number of talented riders they brought to represent in Costa Rica soil. Somewhere in the middle of today's stage we rode by my hometown San Ignacio de Acosta, I told the leading rider in the pace-line at the time it was Marc that I will like to take the lead over by my hometown and he happily said oh sure go ahead Campeón! I then rode across the whole town wearing the yellow jersey and leading what is know as the toughest race in the planet, never before I have felt such pride to do this and at the same time the honor to have the opportunity to do so.

Eventually Roberto Heras made contact with the leading group and now I was starting to worry, 3 Spaniards and 2 Costa Ricans, they outnumbered us, so I quickly told my other countryman to work with me in case the spaniards were up for something. Heras rode with us for about 40 minutes and my fellow Costa Rican friend told me he wanted to shake things up to see who had what, the first one to get dropped was Heras who payed the price for the effort he made catching up, then it was Milton Ramos near the top of the climb. The 3 of us left at the front were all still riding strong so it was almost sure that it will come to a sprint finish.

Deiber Esquivel came over and asked me if I could help him get rid of the Spaniard and also if he could have the stage, he asked since he knew I was still riding strong and my eyes were on the overall rather than the individual stages, Esquivel was more than 30 minutes back after day one and to me he did not represented a threat. I then told him sure I will help you, I rather see you win and not have Marc bead us and gain any time on me, the only thing I asked was to have him help me tomorrow on the way up the Irazú Volcano, the deal was made and eventually we got rid of the Spaniard and Deiber got a good 20 second gap, Deiber took the stage and Marc and I came in second third shortly after. Now the media knew that I was looking at the overall and had a good grip on it with over 7 minutes to spare, it must of being over 30 minutes of interviews autograph signing and TV time, never before have I had the spotlight on me like this.

Day 3

Somedays on the bike are good and somedays are not so good, you wish to have this kind of bad days when training and not while racing, well today it was going to be a bad day for me. Last night I could not sleep very well and this morning I woke up with a fever, not sure what it was but I could not even eat breakfast. I was doing a good job at putting it aside and was wishing to have good legs to take me to the top of the Volcano to start the big down hill.

The pace at the start was manageable but as soon as we entered the steeper part of the climb the fireworks started, unfortunately I didn't even bring matches today to get my fireworks fired up, in fact I think I left the fireworks home. Right then I started to feel bad and my legs were not responding, it felt like my body was trying to tell me somethin and slow me down, all I was thinking was no not today, I felt hot but wanted more clothes on me, and my drive to close the now 2 minute gap was almost gone, I then made a big effort to defend the yellow jersey, with the help of Ben Bostrom we closed the gap and gained contact with the leading group, this was after many fans were lined up on the side of the road telling me to make an effort to defend the jersey and keep the La Ruta throne in Costa Rica. The front group knew that I was not on my game today and soon they attacked again and this time they were gone for good.

One of the riders on that attacking group was Deiber Esquivel who had told me he would work for me today after yesterday's stage handout. Right then I learned not to ever do that again, if you have the chance to win take it, you never know if you will have the chance again. This was the case for sure today, I knew that my chances of winning today were slim and in fact my worries were on not loosing the leaders jersey. Going uphill you can loose time really fast, after loosing contact with the leading group I was told "2 minutes to the lead group" I then told Ben Bostrom how bad I was feeling and told him not to leave me alone till we crossed the line, never before had I seeing someone help me at a race this much, Ben towed me all the way to the top when I felt a little better at times I would tell him to shift one gear and bring the pace up, but shortly my strength will be gone again and all I could do was to ride a medium tempo up the 2:08 minute climb. By the top Marc Trayter was the virtual leader of the 2009 La Ruta race with 8 minutes on me, remember that I had only 7 on him, but we still had another 2 hours to go to the finish, I then stopped at the top to grab my Specialized Deflect Jacket and also open the Brain Valves on both my shocks for a better ride down the gnarly rocky Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes, at first I was very aggressive down the hill and knew that I was gaining time back on the lead group, later on I found out that the leading rider who had initiated the attack was Deiber and now he had a good 3-4 minute advantage on the chasing group containing the whole Cannondale team and the virtual leader Marc Trayter.

Many rocks and mud later I was starting to get mad because I knew I was going to loose the race today. I then started to ride stupid fast taking way to much risk even putting my life in danger, this was product of me loosing my cool due to all the suffering on today's climb, I felt so emotionally moved that I wanted to stop on the side of the road and cry. Eventually I gained my cool and rode a bid smarter, Ben Bostrom was having a phenomenal day descending and by the time we were done with the rough part he was once again pulling me closer to the finish of this never ending torturous day. Just about 18k to go we saw Marc Trayter on the side of the trail repairing a flat tire, I then got very happy not to see him get a mechanical but to know that I would keep my lead and also by knowing that the rest of the front group was not far in front of us. By the time we cross the line Deiber Esquivel had won the stage and the Cannondale team had cross the line just about 2 minutes ahead of us. What a day, I was so exhausted cold wet tired but now relieved to know that I was still in yellow, now just one more day and I would have it in the bag.

Day 4

Today’s stage started yesterday after I got off the bike, after the press interviews we quickly headed back to the hotel room, got all cleaned up had lunch and slept for 2 hours, after that I woke up to fix our bikes, Ben’s and my bike needed new brake pads and a quick tune up, after I got done fixing the bikes I went back to bed to get more rest. Shortly it was dinner time right at 6pm then soon after I went to bed.

In the morning I woke up feeling better and knew right away that today I would have the legs to defend my lead and hopefully win the 17th edition of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores, but as with anything else in life nothing good comes easy, this time the surprise was the rain that started last night and will stay with us all day long. At the start line everybody looked tired and also cold, luckily once we got going I warmed up and my legs were responding real well today. Many attacks were made primarily by the Cannondale team, by the time we got to aid station one the group was about 8-10 riders, but only 2-3 were doing actual work. Shortly after Juan Igacio Mendez a local Costa Rica rider took off on one of the fast rocky descents, I was second wheel and decided that he could get away as this will force the other riders to do some work and chase if they wanted to take at the very least a stage win. This worked out perfect and the chase was on full swing with about 60k to go, most riders were taking pulls and it looked like we had a descent pace line going. Then it came the famous rail road track bridge crossings some of them were more than 100meters long, this seemed to scare some of the non local riders with the exception of Ben Bostrom who looked fearless across this bridges, on some of them we would gain up to 60-90 seconds on the rest of the group, forcing them to chase after, we knew that this will eventually take its load on them so we kept doing it whenever we could.

Just about 30k to go we entered the famous swamps and this indicated me that the finish was near, once again nothing good comes easy and soon we found out that the swamps were so deep that we were forced to ride the train tracks rather, this section of the tracks is not was well maintained as the ones before and flat tires were going to be a factor in the closing kilometers of the race. I was right, 3 of the riders at the front got flat tires, I was riding smooth over the tracks with my S-Works Epic and S-Works Fast Trak 2.0 tires. Once we got out of the tracks it was a clean 12k of fire road and some pavement to what will seem like the best finish line ever, Alex Grand and I worked together in the closing minutes of the race, for him every second counted as some of the riders behind us who had flatted were loosing ground to him and with each pedal stroke he was moving up the General Classification, by the time we cross the line he had moved up to 2nd place overall while I knew I was the new La Ruta Champion.

I cannot put in words what this means to me, away from all the glory and the honor to say I won the toughest race in the world with some of the best riders on earth there is something more important, the fact that this might motivate someone to dream and work towards something out of the ordinary and when everyone tells you you can’t do it you come out and do it and prove yourself that anything is possible, I hope that the next person saying this will be YOU.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the grammar mistakes.

Manuel Prado.

Well this week

November 23, 2009

Well this week I didn't even ride, in fact I didn't even think about it! After riding across Costa Rica in 4 days last week I stuck with my plan and took a week completely off the bike. My friend

and race support Alex and I went to the South part of the Country to a National Park named Corcovado, here we went snorkeling, fishing, hiking and for the most part we took it easy and relaxed for the most part.

What I really liked about this place is how remote it was, since it was a National Park they do not allow any roads or buildings to be built other than a 50 year old park ranger station. There are no buildings here, to access the park you must drive 6 hours from the Airport, and take a 2 hour boat trip. After all of that, it is all relax time.

Till the next time!

It has been a work in progress!

November 16, 2009

Well I don't know where to even start, but this week has been one to remember for the rest of my life. Winning the 17th running of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Just last night I found out that this was the first time that the race was won on a full suspension Bike, my Specialized Epic though climbs like a hardtail, it descents like a full DH bike, which was a great advantage to me. I can tell you that after loosing over 8 minutes at the top of the climb on day 3; I was worried about loosing the race. As soon as I started descending the gap begun to get smaller and smaller, by the time Ben Bostrom and I crossed the line the gap had gone form 8 minutes down to a only 2 minutes to my main contender who rode a hardtail. I do not want to forget to mention that from the middle of the climb to the finish Ben Bostrom did all of the pace making, and without him I would of lost

even more time on day 3. He truly watched out for me, and I can’t say enough about the guy as a person and friend. Thanks again Ben, you are a true teammate.

Full report with pictures to come soon, for now I will enjoy a 5-day

Backpacking trip in the Costa Rica jungle.

Talk soon!

La Ruta Pre-Race Report Day 3

November 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

This is it.......

November 10, 2009

This is it, after so many hours on the bike training and preparing for the hardest race on the planet. Now just a few hours separate us from start of the traverse across Costa Rica. Each and every day is sure to be full of adventures. I have been looking forward to this event for a full year since the conclusion of last year. I worked this whole year riding/racing in hopes of being at the top of my game for this moment. To finally be here and to be given another chance to race the toughest race in the world is truly a blessing and I will be sure to give it my all.

Day 1 pre ride report, as well as day 2 pre ride report with full image gallery are posted on my website.

The La Ruta Race starts this Wednesday November 14th at 5am local time. I will be posting daily updates on my Twitter page, http://twitter.com/ManuelPrado. Follow along with me as I make the journey across Costa Rica in the toughest race in the world La Ruta.

Thanks for reading.

Manuel Prado

La Ruta Pre-Race Report Day 2

November 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 Ruta,

November 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.

Back home, nothing like it!

November 5, 2009

I’m out here in Costa Rica enjoying a jungle, heavy downpours, knee-deep mud, 2 hour down hills on my Specialized Epic. We’ve been eating fresh food, and making time to stop for coffee in our 5-6 hour pre-ride sessions. The riding here provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, I’ve been out here for two weeks now preparing for the 17th running of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores. Me and Ben Bostrom have put in countless hours in the saddle and can’t will both be racing, It should be a great time look for more updates to come.

MP

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 , PDF reader required to open file.

Thanks for reading, Manuel Prado, Ben Bostrom.

Wow training is finally starting to pay off!

October 8, 2009

After racing in Big Bear 2 weeks ago, and getting 2nd behind my team mate Sid Taberlay and Racing this weekend at the West Coast Marathon Championships I have finally made a breakthrough on my fitness. I feel like I some good power records this week, and all I have is one more tune-up race on the schedule, which is the Baja Ultra Endurance, in Esenada Mexico. With all the other training, things are looking pretty good for my preparation for the 17th edition of the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores to take place from November 11th to the 14th in Costa Rica.

Yesterday was a hard, but great training ride, many will think that Orange County California doesn't have big climbs, but there are, my training ride yesterday took place at the Maple Springs climb that takes you up to 4400feet from almost Sea level in 7miles I was doing intervals with surges and even with rest between intervals it took me 58 minutes from Gate to Gate. There is an additional 30 minutes of climbing that will take you to the top of Santiago Peak at an elevation of 5500feet, from the top of this peak you can see the Ocean just about 10 miles away. Doing climbs like this one will help my preparation for my big race coming up. The only thing is that each stage of La Ruta has about 3 climbs like this one. Luckily my Specialized Epic climbed just like a hard tail but descended like a trail bike on this long fast fire road.

More to come in the following weeks, stay tune.

Muchas Gracias!

MP

September 15th marks the independence day of the Costa Rican calendar

October 5, 2009

September 15th marks the independence day of the Costa Rican calendar, and what a better way to celebrate than racing in the USA, at the Local Over the Hump Race Series, at Irvine Lake in Orange County California. The race starts at 6PM to give people a chance to make it over after work.

The front of the race had several local pro riders; some pro roadies even gave it a try. The course is very fast, and not very technical, which it makes it great for first time racers. At the front Sid Taberlay and I were dominating the race, taking control of the pace early. Many attacks were made right from the start, which quickly excelled the speeds. By lap 3 of 4 there were only 5 of us, so I decided to get rid of some of them. I punched it hard on each roller, by the start of the last lap it was only Sid Taberlay, and Trek local Rider Dana Weber, and myself left. Sid launched a huge attack in the middle of the last lap, and I followed him and the two of us finished 1-2 once again. For 2009 after 2 events I sit in second in the overall standing with Sid Taberlay leading the series. Next year it will be a series of 10 races, so if you live in the area, be sure to keep the mid week nights open to come join us.

I’ve been training extremely hard for the La Ruta race. As part of my training schedule, this weekend (Sunday the 20th) I will be attending the U.S. Cup Unification race at Bonelli Park. At the conclusion of the awards ceremonies I will be riding home, for a total of over 6 hours on the bike. More details on my Preparation for La Ruta, check back next week to see how everything unfolds for me this weekend. Hope to see everyone out at Bonelli this weekend, stop by and say hi.

Muchas Gracias!

MP

This week is looking very productive

September 11, 2009

This week is looking very productive for Prado, the event he puts together in Costa Rica is turning 7 years old in February. In celebration for that he has launched a website featuring videos, photos, and general information about the event that has now grown to be the largest in it's class in Latin America. Be sure to check it out at www.ticosjam.com don't miss the latest video under video gallery.

Along with the video gallery is a photo gallery that just got posted with pictures of last years La Ruta de los Conquistadores. There you can learn and see what costa rica looks like, along with photos of the riders going across the country at the race everyone calls the toughest MTB race in the planet.

Many of you know that Prado will be competing for the 6th time come this November, he will once again race his sub 20lbs Specialized Epic, last year Prado finished 5th and was the only rider inside the top 10 to be using a full suspention bike.

More details and updates from his preparation will be outlined in the following weeks, stay tuned.

Thank you

Manuel Prado

Preparation La Ruta de Los Conquistadores

September 8, 2009

This week has been pretty fun, it is Prado's second week on his training program in preparation for his 6th La Ruta de Los Conquistadores race in his hometown Costa Rica. As you can imagine the programs has lots of climbing and a few long Epic MTB rides. His new Specialized Epic bike has helped him out a lot on these long rides to stay fresh and have a little more towards the end of the ride, Prado's does all the pedaling and the bike does all the thinking, He doesn't have to worry about lock-out switches or anything he just get's on it and goes, that is one of the many nice things about the Epic.

On the skinny side of things the Sho-Air junior road team gathers all its riders each Wednesday during Summer for a 2+ hour group ride that leaves the Rock N' Road Specialized Concept store in Irvine 949-733-2453, Prado was invited to join the ride with these 12-17 year old riders that he now for sure considers some of the top future talent to come out of Orange County, the route has a few good climbs and these kits showed Prado that they can ride just as fast or faster than most adults. Keep and eye out in the future, we might get a Pro Tour rider to come out from So' Cal.

Thanks for reading.

Below are the detail of the ride for the summer time:

If your kids are into road cycling and have a road bike have them come over and join the Sho-air Junior's ride, I will be there this wednesday to join them too.

Where: Rock n Road IRVINE 949-733-2453 (Woodbury Center)

When: Wed, Sept. 2nd (meet at 5:15, rollout at 5:30)Route: Irvine Blvd to Bake, climb Bake (regroup if necessary at Portola), then climb Glenn Ranch to Saddleback (regroup point) If there's time, we'll continue up Santiago to Modjeska. Do the loop... then head back to Rock Rock n Road (Irvine).

Dinner at the food court (Woodbury Center)

Thank you!

We’re almost settled in at our new place

July 9, 2009

We’re almost settled in at our new place, and in riding distance from the house to any of the local trails. Anything you can do to spend more time riding, and resting will make you a bid faster.

I just sold my 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser (FZJ80) and purchased a 2005 Subaru Outback Limited. This car is awesome, great ground clearance, all-wheel-drive, great stereo system, and very good gas mileage 22-28MPG. Thanks to Scott I was able to get a bike rack for it too, he had an extra one on his garage that I collected after cleaning and organizing his garage and new tools.

Training is going well, I have been able to stay healthy, and with each passing day I’m feeling stronger. The goal is to get stronger heading into the next few races, and improve my overall position in the U.S. Cup; currently I am in 15th overall.

I am also working on some prototype pedal modifications for Max’s bike, this job should give him about 1.8 watts more per race, which will be about 45 seconds in a 2 hour XC event.

Ok that is it for now, I better go and get those pedals finished.

Adios

MP

Moving into our new place in Mission Viejo

June 23, 2009

Right now we are finishing up moving into our new place in Mission Viejo. Over the next 5 weeks I will be preparing for the next 4 races: 2 World Cups and 2 U.S. Cups on the East Coast. This was the first week I was able to put in 20 plus hours of good intensity, and base miles. I’ve really have enjoyed being home, it was a long last few months of travel. It has been nice getting back to my regular routine, and local riding, here in Southern California. Soon it will be back to traveling and racing which I am looking forward too, but for now its time to put my head down and stay focused. I am extremely excited for the up coming races and hope to improve with every race. Other than that I just spend about 3 hours working on a 15mm axle, and a 140mm rotor for my power tap (improving it), I already have it working. My next task will be to try to break the Cholla climb record set by Johnny O’Mara of 2:52.

Manuel Prado

Costa Rican XCO National Championships

June 2, 2009

Sho-Air/Specialized Manuel Prado took the Costa Rica National XCO Championship this Sunday against all local favorites. The California based racer came forward from 3rd place with only one lap to go and defeated the local favorite Federico “Lico” Ramírez (BCR-Pizza Hut-KHS) who has won 6 National tittles, including the past two titles in a row and was holding a consistent lead of 50 seconds at that point. Nevertheless, “Manny” managed to overcome Ramírez and Carballo after battling with them for more than two hours on the very technical trails of the old National Horse Race Track, located at the province of Cartago “Lico’s Hometown”, some 20 kilometers east from the capital city of San José.

“Lico”, the 34 years old “veteran” best known for his unmatched record of five victories at the most famed Costa Rican race La Ruta de los Conquistadores, finally finished third after being passed by Jonathan Carballo (CitiBank-Economy Rent a Car-Blue) as well, 5Km before the finish line.

“I dreamed of this so many times and now it is true!”, exclaimed Prado. “I thought I would need at least two more years to win my country’s National Championship it certainly was on my “things to achieve” list; it is just that I wasn’t expecting to get it this soon”, he said. Prado put special emphasis on the fact of having beaten a rider considered as a Costa Rican legend and one of his personal idols.

“I respect ‘Lico’ Ramirez so much. He is not only my colleague but my friend as well; this is so unexplainable… What I’m feeling right now is something I can’t describe”, added this 27 year’s old from Mission Viejo who will be turning 28 next Thursday.

This triumph reminded him the old times when he was a BMX Freestyle rider and first went to the United States following his own star.

“There was this ‘flatland’ rider that I admired a lot and always tried to follow his steps. When I left Costa Rica to enter the X-Games in the States I faced him at the finals and I won that race and the sense was pretty alike”, he remembered.

“I can’t let this pass without thanking my team manager Ty Kady and Company owner of Sho-Air International, Scott Tedro. He has helped the sport out a lot, specially my goals and dreams, he simply does it because he loves the sport. Now Sho-Air is also supporting the US Cup and that’s something we all have to thank Scott for”.

“Besides, I would like to send a big kiss and a huge hug to my wife Amalia for all the comprehension, support and the love she gives me”.

This victory will definitely push Manny to aim higher for the rest of the season and for the upcoming years. Next boxes to check on his list are a podium at the US Cup and to achieve another dream he has had since he started racing mountain bike races five years ago: get the title of La Ruta de los Conquistadores for his own.

This is something that we might consider pretty achievable at this point taking in account that his career has been closely related to the history of this event.

Manuel was 37th at his first La Ruta; then he climbed to the 21st place; 11th the year after; and finally step up to the podium with his 5th position last year. However, as a pro racer and a dedicated athlete who has nothing but a promising future, Manuel has no doubt to point to what he considers as his major goal before finishing his cycling career: Representing Costa Rica at the Olympics.

Costa Rica XCO National Championships

1- Manuel Prado (Sho Air-Specialized) 2:37:51

2- Jonathan Carballo (CitiBank-Economy Rent a Car-Blue) @ 1:30

3- Federico Ramírez (BCR-Pizza Hut-KHS) @ 3:20

Warrior’s Society, The Traverse 2009

May 13, 2009

The Warrior’s Society is made up of avid riders, runners, and hikers dedicated to maintaining, and defending our rights to ride local trails in Southern California. They are the ones that each passing year put together the famous Vision Quest Endurance Race. Each time you’re out enjoying the well maintained single-track in Orange County it is the hard work of this organization, and it’s volunteers.

With all the knowledge they have of the area, you can be sure the events will have all kinds of different terrain, and combinations of trails. The Traverse starts in Black Star Canyon, travels along the Main Divide in the Santa Ana Mountains, and finishes at the Trabuco and Live Oak road intersection. With over 41-miles of great riding and lots of awesome vistas, the Traverse is sure to show you what the Santa Ana’s have to offer. The first Climb to the top of peaks place is about 7.8 Miles and ascends 2200 feet. With an easy start at this year’s event Prado had the time to check out the competition. As they started up the steeper slopes of the Black Star Climb Manny decided to put a heavy tempo pace at the front, to see how the other riders were feeling. A small group of 4 riders formed at the front, not going to do any work for the others he decided to continue the hard tempo, and rode away from the rest. With such a hard pace at the front the little Costa Rican rider reached the top of the climb in 41:27, almost a record time for this local climb.

This year the weather was really nice with an average of 85F. The second leg of the course was from Beeks Place to the top of Motorway a famous local Single-Track trail. The Vision Quest uses this trail to take you to the bottom of Maple Springs. The Traverse bypasses this trail and continues on the Main Divide all the way to Four Corners. Prado rode this leg of the course in 46:12 minutes setting a blistering pace at the front. The next section of the Course doesn’t look very long, but it had some of the steeper climbs in the race. Prado decided to run the Prototype Specialized S-Works Renegade 2.1 tires for this race. This new tire allowed him to have very low rolling resistance, while maintaining great traction and shock absorption. With their high volume and soft compound these tires also help maintain traction on the loose parts of the race.

By aid station one at the Four Corners junction, Prado had a large lead over the rest of the field. He was running a PowerTap computer that let him know that 2:29 minutes into the race he was averaging 235watts of power. After filling his two 22oz bottles with E2 Hydro Prado continued up the climb to the top of Saddle Back Mountain. This climb reaches an altitude of 5400 feet, you can see most of Orange County, and on a clear day you can see the Catalina Island. From there it is a long rocky fire road descent, followed by rolling short, but steep climbs all the way to the top of the Trabuco Single-Track. Prado rode smart and smooth down the loose and exposed trail to the finish 1st with a time of 3:58, to claim the $300 price for the top finishing Pro. Prado also owns the Course Record of 3:43 witch he set in 2007.

If you are a local rider, and have not yet challenged yourself with an Epic race such as the Traverse Prado encourages you to try one. With the support of the Warrior’s Society it’s much easier to accomplish such a task. They set up aid stations that provide you with E2 Hydro, along with energy bars, fruit, and much more. Prado will see you at the starting line in 2010 at the next Traverse.

Thanks for reading.

Idyllwild Spring Challenge and San Luis Rey Road Race, great training weekend!

May 4, 2009

The first weekend of May had a couple of good races that help out Prado’s training towards the Costa Rica National Championships as well as the Bump and Grind Pro XCT in Alabama.

The Idyllwild Spring Challenge is considered by many a real MTB Epic race it is a 30-mile big loop with about 6000 feet elevation gain and about 80% Single-track. This weekend was Sid Taberlay and Manuel Prado the ones representing Sho-Air/Specialized, at first it was Prado getting to the lead on the first single-track, shortly after former Saunier-Duval team rider Aaron Olson made his way to the front on the flatter sections of the course, by the first quarter of the race it was the Sho-Air/Specialized duo, Olson and Dana Weber the ones at the front of the race this 4 riders will battle all the way to the bottom of the hardest climb of the day, by this point Sid Taberlay had a 45 second advantage over the 3 riders behind. Prado knew that this was the best part for him to attack so he went ahead and did just that, by the time Prado reached the top he was about 1 minute behind Sid and about 45 seconds in front of the rest of the chasers, Sid will continue to grow his advantage over the rest. While Dana Weber will eventually close the gap on the Costa Rican rider, but Prado was able to edge him on the last mile of the race for a 1-2 Sho-Air Specialized finish.

Prado felt like he could still get some good quality training before the weekend was over, so the next challenge was the San Luis Rey road race in San Diego. 90 Miles and about 4000 feet elevation was a great training day for Prado, so he line up right at the front of the pack of Pro roadies and took off to a great top 30 finish with an average speed of 38.6KPH for Prado the challenge turned out to be the lack of support at the road race, with no one to hand him a feed the Costa Rican rode the 90 mile race on 2 bottles of E2-Hydro and a couple of gels but Prado doesn’t like excuses so he went ahead and got involve in 2 of the major breakaways of the day, unfortunately both breakaways will eventually get caught by the peloton and a group of about 10 riders got away as the second breakaway containing Prado got caught, this group of riders manage to stay away and from there came the eventual winner. Prado finished on the chasing group inside the Peloton.

The following week will have some more training and a local race called the Traverse witch Prado won in 2007, after the Traverse Prado will have a short break from racing to get ready for back to back race weekends at the Costa Rica National Championships and the Bump and Grind Pro XCT in Alabama.

Thanks for reading.

Stats for Manny Prado are coming soon.