Don’t wait for May to bike the trails of El Labrador, a mountain biking competition recognized by biking enthusiasts as one of the most popular and demanding in the province.
Every May since 2007, the race has been held annually. It started with 65 people and by its 11th edition in 2018 had a record 700 people competing.
The routes established for the race are open almost in their entirety during the rest of the year. All you have to do is get in touch with the event’s organizers (see chart) and coordinate a trip.
Depending on the route, the challenge may cross through Matina, Lapas and Iguanita in La Mansión, Nicoya.
Below we give you six reasons to bike this trail, whether for competition or recreation and not die trying.
1. It helps towns.
Whether you decide to compete in May or bike it any other time of year, all the funds collected from El Labrador are used for developing projects deemed priorities for the residents of communities Matina, Lapas and Iguanita.
Event organizer Marcelo Cruz said that this year, registration for the competition cost ¢12,000 ($21.50). For a person who wishes to bike the trail before or after the competition, the price will vary and depend on the route you choose, on whether you do it in a group or individually and if you require refreshments when you finish.
This is all not for profit,” Cruz said. “Generally, if someone calls us and is interested in biking one of the routes after the competition, we do it and we don’t charge. But if they want a much more complete service, that’s when we need to charge. The price varies and it’s a matter of discussing it.”
Money from previous editions of the race contributed, for example, to improving aqueducts in Matina and Iguanita.
2. Trails for all tastes
The competition has three different routes for beginners, intermediates and advanced bikers. Distances are usually 18, 22 and 28 kilometers (11.2, 13.7 and 17.4 miles), respectively, but can vary from year to year.
For those who wish to bike one of the routes in the competition, you can choose between these three options or request a personalized route, which may be shorter, for example.
Regardless of the route you choose, keep in mind that the trails are challenging and require maximum effort along every stretch of the way.
Depending on the route you chose, you may find steep climbs of up to 600 meters long and downhill stretches that, depending on the time of year, may require good technique because of the amount of mud, branches and rocks along the trail.
4. Beautiful views
Cruz assures that the trails that were chosen for the El Labrador route are, in large part, paths that were used by the first residents of Matina, Iguanita and Lapas. They used the trails to transport grains they harvested to ports such as Puerto Jesús or Puerto Thiel.
Along these paths you can cross rivers and climb up to natural lookouts with spectacular views of the peninsula.
5. Safe zones
Aside from the chosen route, you will be biking in areas that are free of cars, so you can pedal with complete freedom.
The routes don’t go along main roads in the zone and instead use mountain trails.
6. Easy access for starting the aventure
Matina is the starting point for the competition and for any trail that you chose to do at any other time of year. Getting to the community is simple.
The entrance to Matina is located 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from downtown La Mansión on the highway to Hojancha. The access road to the community is a gravel road and any type of vehicle can travel it.
If you are from Nicoya and your physical conditioning allows, you can bike along the old highway to La Mansión until you reach Matina. It’s about 11 kilometers (roughly 7 miles), that constitute a perfect warm-up for El Labrador.