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Photo Gallery: On the eve of La Ruta de los Conquistadores

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La Ruta de los Conquistadores is celebrating its 19th year

La Ruta de los Conquistadores is celebrating its 19th year
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The view from the first night's host hotel toward the Pacific Ocean

The view from the first night's host hotel toward the Pacific Ocean
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Palm trees, beaches, heat and humidity marked the eve of the race.

Palm trees, beaches, heat and humidity marked the eve of the race.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Costa Rica takes its recycling seriously

Costa Rica takes its recycling seriously
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Specialized is the only team with a full set-up.

Specialized is the only team with a full set-up.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers sign in

Racers sign in
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Bags all ready to be handed out to racers still to sign-in

Bags all ready to be handed out to racers still to sign-in
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The rider meeting was held under this beachside pavillion

The rider meeting was held under this beachside pavillion
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A view to the Pacific Ocean

A view to the Pacific Ocean
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Dramatic clouds keep things interesting visually in Costa Rica

Dramatic clouds keep things interesting visually in Costa Rica
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Waves on the beach in Jaco

Waves on the beach in Jaco
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers start from the west coast of Costa Rica and head east for the next four days.

Racers start from the west coast of Costa Rica and head east for the next four days.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Beautiful beaches, mountains and clouds make up the scenery.

Beautiful beaches, mountains and clouds make up the scenery.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Dramatic skies are constantly changing as the rain comes and goes.

Dramatic skies are constantly changing as the rain comes and goes.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A look toward the first headquarters of the race

A look toward the first headquarters of the race
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The tropical climate lets orchids grow outdoors

The tropical climate lets orchids grow outdoors
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The orchids cheered up the lobby of the first race host city hotel

The orchids cheered up the lobby of the first race host city hotel
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

On the eve of the 2011 La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica, racers from 23 countries trickled into Jaco, the town hosting the start of stage 1 which will kick off at 6:00 am on Wednesday morning.

The race is notoriously difficult - in terms of length and ruggedness of terrain - and race founder Roman Urbina reminded racers of what is to come.

"This is an adventure," he said. "It's the real thing. We can't stop the country from running. You never know what you're going to see out there."

Chilling out beachside for the riders' meeting, it was hard to think of what toils were to come, but Urbina gave some advice. "The bottom line is 'don't be scared'. Have fun."

The route will be similar to what is was in 2010 except about 4km of walking through the Carara National Park have been cut out. That may save riders as much as one hour of slogging through a notoriously tough section.

Check out this photo gallery from the eve of the race.