Gerry Cody (Herbalife24) has surprised himself with consistent top 10 riding at the La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica. In each of the first three stages, he placed in the top 10 and now sits in 10th overall with one stage remaining.
"It's unbelievable. This is the most incredible event ever," said Cody to Cyclingnews. "The terrain is insane."
"This race is billed as the toughest event on the planet. I wanted to check it out. It's by far the toughest event I've ever done." Cody, who lives in Los Angeles, California, heard of the race through his friend and past winner Manny Prado.
Cody has never done a mountain bike stage race before although he has twice raced the Leadville 100, including finishing ninth and 10th in the past two years.
His strategy is pretty simple. "I just hang onto the (fast) guys as long as I can, and I usually end up in the jungle by myself just trying to survive."
What has been interesting to Cody is all the crazy things he's seen en route on the course. Besides car traffic (the course is open to vehicles), he's encountered dogs, bulldozers, taxi cabs and a mountain goat with horns. Cyclingnews watched a heard of cattle cross the road just minutes before he passed by near the Turrialba volcano on Friday.
And then there is the mud, which is particularly challenging for the southern California rider. "The mud is the real deal. If anybody wants to do a study on mountain biking and mud, this is the place. I carry around chain cleaner and every few miles, I do some scraping and clean it off and then lube it."
"This mud makes it feel like another planet. It's everywhere. It's caked to your bike and to your shoes. It's in your mouth and ears. The amount of mud and the kind of mud has been the biggest shock."
While the heat has not bothered him much, he has noticed the humidity.
Cody, who is 33 years old and works as a toy designer full-time, came to La Ruta with a simple mission. "I just wanted to experience it. My main goal was to come out here and have no mechanicals and no crashes. I've been consistent and safe and healthy and having a good time. I want to keep it going - one more day. I'll empty the tanks with everything I've got tomorrow."
He'll face La Ruta's infamous railroad bridges on the final stage, which finishes in Puerto Limon.