Carmichael celebrates 50th birthday with La Ruta finish

Armstrong's coach completes gruelling mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica

Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's long-time coach, completed the La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica on Saturday. The Colorado Springs resident decided to do the race to celebrate his 50th birthday, which was a few weeks ago.

"I've never done anything like that. It was cool," Carmichael told Cyclingnews on the sandy Caribbean beach on which the race finished after stage 4. "Every stage threw something at you. I'd think I was through the hardest part, and then there was something else. It kept knocking you down."

Like most racers, he headed straight for the warm sea to take a dip after a rainy and muddy stage.

La Ruta is considered by some to be the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world given the incredibly steep climbs and often extremely muddy conditions.

"Costa Rica is great," said Carmichael of his time in the Central American nation, "especially the people, and I loved it."

Carmichael's most famous client, Armstrong, has never competed in the race though he has been invited to come do it. "If Lance asks me about the race," said Carmichael, "I'll tell him it's hard as hell."

When asked if he thought that Armstrong might ever do the race, Carmichael replied, "I can't speak for him, but I think he likes this sort of stuff."

Carmichael placed 70th overall on general classification and third in his age category. He was part of a large contingent doing the race under the guidance and support of his business, Carmichael Training Systems.

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