We got so lucky today!! There have been bike races going on all week in the area, but I didn’t know exactly when and where so it was total luck today that we got to see the last stage of the race.
We were biking south and about to cross the Pan-American highway when we noticed a vehicle coming down the highway with lights and sirens, followed by a couple other vehicles and then, a whole group of bicycle racers!!
We continued on our way, happy to have seen them, and headed to the south part of town to visit a friend. When we arrived at the main road in south David, we again heard the vehicle with lights and sirens. Could it be the racers again? Yes indeed, and we were waiting to cross the very street they were coming down!
We were so excited to be right there on the race route! I’m so used to my dirt bike with its noisy tires, but when these bikes passed us they were silent – no tire noise, no sounds of metal, no heavy breathing, nothing, just silence as they flew by us.
Little did I know we weren’t finished yet. As we headed home I saw a crowd at the Parque de Madres (Park of Mothers) so we went to check it out. They were holding the final ceremonies for the winners!
The race is called La Vuelta International a Chiriqui 2014, and it has been happening every year for 34 years. When I learned the name from the stage backdrop I was able to look up some information. This is no small or easy race!! I saw cyclists mentioned from Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Another article said that at least six countries would be represented.
The event lasts 10 days with a different stage on each day for a total of 1069.8 kilometers.
- The first day was time trials from David to Boquerón, another town up the road. If I am reading the results correctly the winner came in with a time of 36.31 for 31.1 km.
- Day 2 – 132.8 km- David, Dolega, Porterillos, Dolega, Concepcion, David. One time I made it to Dolega and thought I was something because it is almost all uphill and there are a couple killer hills between here and there. Porterillos is probably twice as far and high as Dolega. It looks like the winning time was 3:14:24
- 80 kilometers – a circut through Concepcion and Bugaba, so this would have been fairly flat, at least compared to the day before. Winning time 2:02:17
- 127 km – David to Boquete which is again up in the mountains. I have a dream of biking this route! It is about twice as far as my big ride to the beach, and it’s almost all uphill. The winning time was 2:56:32 This is about 50 minutes less than it took me to go half that distance on mostly flat roads. Joel happened to be driving to Boquete that day and saw them going uphill, and said they were powering up at very impressive speeds. I can only imagine how fast they were coming back down!
- 134 km, David – Cerro Punta – David. Winning time 3:38:13. I have driven this route and our little Hyundai struggles to make it up there. Never in my wildest dreams and if I was 40 years younger would I imagine biking this route! This is serious uphill climbing to one of the highest towns in the province.
- 138 km from David to the Costa Rica border and back, fairly flat, must have felt like a day off after yesterday. Winning time 3:00:41. So, this is about the same distance as yesterday, and they were able to climb serious mountains taking only 38 minutes longer than traveling on fairly flat roads? How fast do they power up those mountains??
- 154 km – David, Conception, Los Planes, David. According to my map this route goes west, and then east of David and uphill, but not like the mountain routes of a few days ago. Time 3:55:38
- 132 km from David to the Costa Rica border and back again. Apparently the route was modified because of some road construction, so it is slightly shorter than day #6. 2:59:14
- 25.1 km up and down the highway, individual time trials, fastest time 39.7
- 84 km – 12 laps of a circuit around David (so this is what we saw today). At this point there are no times posted on the websites.
I am so excited to have seen these men, and to think how strong they must be to have done all these races! I am excited and inspired. I didn’t see any women participating though, which I think is unfortunate.
Now that I know what to google, I am going to mark my calendar so I can watch more of this next year.