The La Ruta de los Conquistadors mountain bike stage race is adding a new category for fat bikes in its next edition on October 24-26 of this year.
"The idea came from Will Mucke, who participated last year on a regular bike and is training to do the Iditarod in 2014," said La Ruta promoter Roman Urbina.
"Two years ago, Milton Ramos, one of the top pros at La Ruta, rode the last day of the race on a fat bike and we have pictures of him riding the railroad bridges. He is the only cyclist who has ever done this in 21 years of the race."
Urbina has previously entertained the idea of having a singlespeed category, but thinks there is not enough interest. However, he noted that there is more interest in racing La Ruta on a fat bike.
Urbina himself has never ridden a fat bike and wouldn't speculate on how doing so would change the La Ruta experience. "It looks like a lot of fun. I hope in the next few weeks that Will will let me borrow his!"
Mucke, who rides for the non-profit Team CoreCo, said, "Despite now being that fastest-growing category of cycling worldwide, fat bikes in Costa Rica are as yet a total curiosity, and I get stopped to have pictures taken by giggling passers-by all the time."
"Riding the bike here in the Costa Rica environment is just so darn fun that I can only imagine there will be more 'girthy' tires here in the future. While by no means a scientific report, I can tell you that my qualitative assessment of the fat bike is that while most people think snow and sand, the bike is as just as capable a machine as any in the dirt, rocks and roots."
Mucke admitted that the fat bike can be a disadvantage on pavement due to the added friction from the greater contact area, but said it pays off on the climbs and descents, and especially in the mud.
"Such a large contact area where the tire meets the road means better traction in the loose and on the steeps, which translates into (with a 22/34T x 12-36T setup) massive climbing power," said Mucke.
"With the bike not weighing that much more than your average 29er FS rig, I find that I can spin up hills where other spin out, and can climb most inclines where others walk. That is a huge advantage to keep a rhythm on some of the pitches in La Ruta where the crux of a gravel hill or loose trail section can be a sustained kick that can easily go over 25-degree slope."
La Ruta is famous for its incredibly steep climbs.
Mucke has been testing out his fat bike rig on parts of the La Ruta course, including the famous volcano stage and so far reported that he is very pleased with the experience.