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UPDATED November 30, 2022

BY Michael Coo

IN Ruta Maya

1 comment

UPDATED November 30, 2022

BY Michael Coo

IN Ruta Maya

1 comment

The Return Of The Ruta Maya (AKA The Doomsday Ride)

 

The route and roads, well holy shit, they were beyond imagination.”  – David Jones, 2012 cyclist
The most challenging trip I have ever done, but also the most rewarding.” – Jim Raddatz , 2015 cyclist

People love to talk about something they think is special, something extraordinary. “Have you read this book?” “Have you seen this movie?” “Have you heard about this restaurant?” In our community of cyclists, riders will ask each other, “Have you cycled the Ruta Maya?

We are excited to announce the return of the Ruta Maya. This is an extended version of our classic adventure that now includes five days of cycling in Mexico, finishing in Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula. The tour is scheduled for November 2023. Click here for more details and to register.

It was back in the spring of 2012 when, over beers, our staff was shooting the breeze about the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21st of that year. Well, the seed had been planted and soon we had come up with a cycling journey across Central America, one that would arrive at the Mayan ruins of Lamanai in Belize on the very day the world was going to end. Of course, we called it the ‘Doomsday Ride’.

Cristiano scouting the route

I was fortunate enough to be sent to scout the proposed route along with fellow TDA staffer, Cristiano Werneck. Right away we knew we had something special. There was a lot of – “Can you believe this?” – Can you imagine cycling this road?” – “Should we really tell Henry about this?”  From Honduras we wrote, “We got lost one day in those hills, in a spider’s web of dirt roads. Our car broke down. Ended up somehow in the same small town 5 times during our quest to escape. The last time we stopped in to eat at the only ‘restaurant’ in town – someone’s garage. While we ate a sweat-stained man with a large gun stuffed down the back of his pants walked in, took a coke out of the warm fridge and walked out without paying. The sheriff I think. There was no booze allowed in the town. Good thing…

At the finish in 2012

In the end, the route was confirmed, the trip went ahead and was, by all standards, a great success. Of course, as we now know the Mayans seem to have miscalculated and the world did not end after all. The ride, now renamed the Ruta Maya,  was run again in 2015 and 2016 and after each adventure its reputation as a once in a lifetime experience continued to grow. Now 10 years after our first journey across Central America, we are pleased to announce that this astounding cycling experience will return in 2023! Here are 3 reasons you should not miss out on this experience.

The Challenges & The Rewards

On the road in Honduras

The roads of the Ruta Maya have actually spawned a new word, created spontaneously by a rider in 2012 to describe the experience cycling in rural Honduras – ‘Brutaful’. Other riders chimed in. Joachim Löffel called parts of the road, ‘a torture session’. David Houghton summarized it as, ‘fucking hard’- this coming from a person who rode 4 months from Cairo to Cape Town. Suzette said parts of the road felt like being inside a Salvador Dali painting. And the tough JJ Hilsinger said he never worked so hard for his dinner. ‘It took me right to the edge,’ was David Jones’ remark. However, they also remembered that, “It certainly was a spectacular ride; dipping into the valleys only to rise above the trees and be blown away by the dramatic landscapes below. We cycled in sunbeams, streaking through orange groves and as we ascended the clouds took on some unreal shapes.

The History

Tikal, Guatemala

The Mayans left behind a number of astonishing architectural ruins and the roads of the Ruta Maya allow the riders to visit some of the most spectacular ones. They will begin in Honduras with Copan, which was situated at the edge of the Mayan Empire and is known for its stunning Acropolis (Royal Plaza). A couple weeks after that, they will have a rest day in the Guatemalan town of Flores. This will allow them to arrange a dawn visit to the incredible site of Tikal, once a powerful Kingdom and one of the largest cities in the Americas. A few days later in Belize, they can explore the ruins at Lamanai, including the famous Temple of the Jaguar. Finally, the tour will come to an end at the spectacular seaside Mayan ruins in Tulum on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Granada

The cyclists of the Ruta Maya will also have the opportunity to soak up the Spanish historical influence, especially in the colonial cities of Granada, Nicaragua and Antigua, Guatemala. Granada, beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, is renown for its incredible collection of colonial-era architecture, probably the finest in Central America. Antigua was the colonial capital of the country until it was almost completely destroyed by a major earthquake in 1773. It is known for its colonial monuments and its gorgeous location in the shadow of the Acatenango volcano.

The Scenery

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Over the 7 weeks of the Ruta Maya the riders will be treated to some absolutely breathtaking scenery. They will spin past the magnificent Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica and the sun-drenched beaches of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. They will pedal along the shores of Lake Nicaragua with its incredible views of the twin volcanoes on the Isla de Ometepe and through the forest clad slopes of Honduras’ Valle de Angleles. They will gaze in wonder at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, considered one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and swing through the remote nature reserve of Reserva de la Biósfera Sian Ka’an in Mexico before washing up on the dazzling sandy shores of the Caribbean Sea at Tulum.

What are you waiting for? Sign up. Grab the opportunity! Click here for all the details and to register.

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Ruta Maya

This incredible cycling adventure will take riders across Central America, from Costa Rica through Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and on into...

 

1 Comment for "The Return Of The Ruta Maya (AKA The Doomsday Ride)"

Glad to know you brought it back!

I could not have completed it in 2016 without master mechanic Andreas Packenham keeping my bike going! I still remember the day he cobbled together my broken rear derailleur pantograph with wood screws scrounged from a spare parts box in the workshop at Selva Negra, Nicaragua! Then my bottom bracket gave out and he replaced it on a rest day in Guatemala. As a result of his efforts, I managed to do EFI of it, my only time on a TDA tour.

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