Professional mountain biker Marla Streb has won world and U.S. national championships, taken gold in the extreme-action-sport X Games, and biked professionally across the globe. Now she’s ready to tackle the jungles of Costa Rica, and is inviting beginner and advanced bikers along for the ride.
This year, Streb debuts her mountain bike skills camp in the jungle around Montezuma, a Pacific beach community on the southern tip of the NicoyaPeninsula. Her three-day, four-night camp aims to help bikers of all abilities improve their riding skills and techniques, while allowing them to enjoy Costa Rica’s myriad other attractions.
Streb, 43, says she chose Costa Rica as the site for her camp after racing La Ruta de los Conquistadores five years ago with her pro team, Luna. The world-class, four-day race starts in Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, and ends in the Caribbean port of Limón.
“After I raced (La Ruta) the first time, I stayed with a friend in Montezuma,” Streb says. “I loved the town and its relative remoteness. After exploring the country further, I found the NicoyaPeninsula to be a good place for trails, because it doesn’t get as much rain as many other areas.”
The Baltimore, Maryland, native also found Costa Rica to be a great place to raise a family. In 2007, she and her husband, Mark Fitzgerald, moved here and had their first daughter, whom they named Nicoya. Streb, who retired from professional racing at the end of last year, is expecting her second child any day now, all while planning and preparing a unique experience for bikers when the camp launches in June.
“Mountain bikers are a pretty adventurous demographic,” Streb says. “And they want to come down here for an adventure.”
Adventures with Streb and her camp will include morning skills clinics in which participants will work with Streb and her team of other pro coaches to learn about the mechanics of biking, tricks and jumps, as well as proper balance and bailout techniques. Afternoons will give the bikers the opportunity for yoga, surfing, ziplining and snorkeling.
Participants don’t have to worry about getting their bikes down to Costa Rica, as Streb provides the bikes for the camp. This year, participants will have the use of 10 Orbea Occams, high-end mountain bikes that retail for about $4,000, Streb says.
“Participants can literally bring only a helmet and shoes,” Streb says. “We’ll take care of the rest.”
The camp is priced at $810 per person, with discounts offered for groups. Included in the price are local transportation costs, some optional activities and all breakfasts and lunches.
“We’ve priced the camp as low as possible,” Streb says. “We probably won’t make any money our first year, but I think this project has a lot of potential, and that’s what this first year is about.”
“It’s looking good. People are definitely interested,” she adds.
Twelve camps – three of them women-only – will be offered this year, with the first camp starting June 15 and the last set to begin Dec. 21. Streb and her team are working on building the trails in the jungle around Montezuma in time for the June start date.
It’s a little more difficult than making walking or hiking trails, she says, explaining that the challenge lies in creating trails that are sustainable under rainy-season conditions.
With this in mind, Streb’s team is building the trails to divert rainwater.
Streb says the skills camp has been a community effort involving Montezuma area residents. While most camp participants will probably come from North America and Europe, she says, a discounted two-day rate will be offered for Ticos to come and take advantage of the trails.
“There’s really no good aerobic activity besides soccer here,” Streb says. “The trails will be a really good outlet for Ticos, both kids and adults.”
Other local involvement comes from Jorge Muñoz, a Tico pro racer who has also gone to the X Games. Muñoz is helping to design the trails and will help coach some of the skills camps with Streb, teaching participants jumps and tricks.
Muñoz is excited about the potential of the skills camp, both for the sport and for Costa Rica.
“The demand for mountain biking is high right now,” he says. “There are hundreds of people who would love to come to Costa Rica to practice here, but there isn’t a place to do so. It’s because of this need that we are creating this camp.”
So far, two of the 12 camps are sold out, and Streb is optimistic her camp will become an attraction for both bikers and regular tourists.
“The average tourist spends 12 days here in Costa Rica,” she says. “So we hope these camps will be something they may want to do while they’re here.”
Though Streb has her plate full with a camp to run and another baby on the way, she is still thinking about the future.
“I may return to racing; I’m slightly addicted to competition,” she says. “My focus, though, is my new business here. Oh, and learning Spanish!”
For information on Streb’s camps, visit www.strebmountainbikecostarica.com.