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  • Jennifer Vollmann

Uno… dos.. Uno… dos…

Pura Vida Cycling Challenge reflection


I just got back from another spectacular trip with the Pura Vida Cycling Challenge. It's a 5 day cycling tour/challenge/climbing camp that takes cyclists on some of the most epic rides in the world (my humble opinion). Imagine riding roads like you see on the Tour de France but they didn’t have to build them with snow in mind. I smirk when we get to the base of a climb, it is like the engineer looked at point A and point B on a map and was like, nah, we don't need switchbacks, let's just go straight up and straight down! There is literally not a flat road in the area. Directions are given in arriba o abajo, up or down. As one of our athletes Robyn described:


“Climbing: There is always the climb before the climb, and the climb after the climb, and all the climbs in between the climbs… and no such thing as a final climb… but man, it’s a good time with the greatest people.”



It is some of my favorite 5 days of the year. This was my 5th time riding these rides in the last 1.5yrs. The first time I hung on by a small thread and was sick for a full week after. Now, I know the climbs and how to approach them for me - painfully slow on anything less than a 12% then full gas up the 15% - 25%+. I know how to recover, fuel (eat all the plants and drink all the coke), but most importantly, I know what it takes mentally.


This Challenge is physically hard but each time we go, I am reminded by my experiences and the experiences of other athletes that this is more about your willingness to:

dig deep

let go of expectations

live in the very second you are in

then it is about your physical power and strength.


The athletes that succeed on these rides don’t feel the need to race the miles of rollers (or as our athletes point out more like - “mini climbs”) before we get to the Feature Climb of the day. They don’t panic when they see the wall of asphalt on Sacramento ahead of them. They don't expect to be the best or the worst cyclist, they just expect them to be themselves on that day. In the end, when it gets hard, because I am telling you it gets incredibly hard every damn day, they don't stop. They are willing to go inside and dig one level deeper to find the power to turn over the pedals for that second and then they do it again for the next.




One of the Ticos (local Costa Rican cyclist) and I would look at each other when it got hard and say uno, dos, uno, dos… you dont have to think about the next pitch or the next 40 miles or the next day. You just think about what is in front of you at that very moment. 1… 2…1…2…That is how you ride these climbs. Truly, if you have enough gears, your limitations are in your mind, not in your legs.


One of the things I love most about cycling and endurance sport for that matter, is how the lessons learned can translate to life. How you do something is how you do everything! It doesn't have to be an actual mountain to climb, it can be any challenge, any obstacle, anything where you are trying to get from point A to point B. Are you willing to dig deep to get to where you want to go? Are you willing to let go of expectations you put on yourself and others? Can you let go of the shoulds you place on your shoulders? Can you live in this moment and then the next fully? In my experience, intensely living these three principals in 5 days of riding has opened the door to living in them in all the other areas of my life. Self development/mental strength/self awareness (whatever phrase speaks to you) can come in many forms but one of the most successful forms I have experienced is when it comes through the union of physical and mental challenges. It can be a catapult to self discovery and foundation for creating huge changes in your life.


Where in your life can you take the principles you learned during physical challenges and apply them to other areas of your life? Where can you move forward in your life by digging deep, letting go of expectations, and living in the moment?

Uno… dos… uno… dos…


Check out the Pura Vida Cycling Challenge for information on our 2023 Challenges or shoot me a message.