Román Urbina, the creator of the Ruta de los Conquistadores multi-stage mountain bike race, became the first Latin American inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Thursday.
The 53-year-old Costa Rican athlete founded the three-day race that is often called the world’s toughest mountain biking competition in 1993, retracing the path the first Spanish explorers made from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast.
“It’s a privilege for me to be the first Latin American to receive this honor,” Urbina said. “More than being a personal recognition, this honor goes to all of those who have ridden the Ruta with me in the past 24 years and for those who have decided to take on this gratifying test of personal growth.”
The Ruta has attracted ambitious mountain bikers from all over the world for decades, in large part because of Urbina’s ultra-challenging route design that can vary on a year-to-year basis. The race is also recognized for its thrilling scenery that takes riders through deep jungle terrain, across rivers and over rickety bridges.
The Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Fairfax, California will have its official ceremony on Oct. 1 for this year’s inductees. In its induction report on Urbina, the Hall of Fame notes that the Tico has had a huge impact on mountain bike competitions and calls him the “godfather of the multi-day bike race.”
According to an excerpt from the hall of fame’s induction page on Urbina:
Arguably Costa Rica’s best-known triathlete, adventure racer, and mountain biker, Román is known as one of those rare, risk-taking visionaries who come up with the big idea that, in some way, changed the world — at least, the mountain biking world. As the godfather of the multi-day mountain bike stage race, he was the first person to take the beauty and potential of the mountain bike to an adventurous extreme.
Urbina is also an avid surfer and competitive open-water swimmer. This was his fourth consecutive nomination for the Hall of Fame.
“This is an example of, even though Costa Rica is a small country, we Costa Ricans have the DNA to be able to do big things,” Urbina said. “I’m receiving this recognition with gratitude and humility in the name of all the Ticos who love adventure on two wheels.”
The 24th edition of La Ruta de los Conquistadores will take place Nov. 3-5, beginning on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast in Playa Jacó.