Trailforks Trail of the Month: El Ciclón
This month we venture to Los Senderos de Colón Bike Park located in beautiful Costa Rica to have a look at their newest downhill track; El Ciclón (The Cyclone). Los Senderos de Colón is located on 350 hectares of private land just outside the small town of Ciudad Colón, just a short 30-minute drive from Costa Rica's capital; San José. The park opened its doors late in 2014 and currently boasts 30 km of trail with plans to add another 30 km in the near future. Trails range from easy doubletrack, to outright insane singletrack. El Ciclón is rated double diamond Proline for a reason, small mistakes can have huge consequences.
Brothers Carlos and Roberto (Teto) Castillo both top ranked international downhillers have been working hard to form an official Central American Downhill Series (Internacional Ciclón). With most of the logistical details surrounding the new series out of the way, the brothers now needed to focus on finding a location to host the first official race. Carlos approached the crew at Los Senderos de Colón with his idea of them hosting the first race of the newly formed series. The event would host riders from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and of course, Costa Rica. After evaluating the existing trails, it was deemed a new track would be needed. Carlos was set free and allowed to design and build whatever his heart desired.
Carlos and the crew started their search for the ideal location. They were looking for something that would push the top riders from all over Central America to their limits. Their search took them to a previously unexplored section of the park that had all the qualities they were looking for; including road access perfect for shuttling riders to the start gate. The topography of the area was perfectly suited for building a world class downhill track. The upper section was steep, rocky, very exposed and straight up gnarly, forcing riders to show their technical bike handling skills. In some sections the crew literally scraped rock off the side of the mountain to create a thread wide enough for a bike to pass through. A mistake in these sections would definitely put an end to your race day! The lower section opens up and flattens out which allowed Carlos to build some big features racers would be able to get off their brakes and let it all hang out.
We caught up with course designer, Carlos Castillo to ask him a few question about Costa Rica's newest downhill track.
What was the inspiration behind the track design?
The need to have the best downhill in the country. Having raced in several international downhill races during 2014 and 2015 I had the feeling we needed to raise the level of the trails in Costa Rica to help raise the level of our downhillers and hence raise the level of the sport here.
What made Los Senderos de Colón Bike Park a good location for a new downhill track?
Los Senderos de Colón has a very convenient location, very easy recycling, and a wonderful topography, besides, the trail center was in need of a good downhill trail.
Can you talk a little about the biggest challenge you faced during the construction of the track?
Removing a wall of rock that was not allowing us to have reasonable width in a very steep portion with a big precipice (cliff) on you right hand, believe me, you don´t want to fall there.
If you could do it all over again what would you change the second time around?
Nothing, maybe just making some bigger doubles, but we will be fixing that very soon.
In less than a year Los Senderos de Colón has hosted a Central American Downhill Championship (Internacional Ciclón) race and the final event of last season's Copa Ciclón DH series. It has already been booked to host another National Championship event this summer and a round of the Copa Ciclón downhill series later this year. It’s safe to say what Carlos and his crew laid out and built is now considered one of the best downhill tracks in the region. If you’re planning a future vacation and want to experience beautiful weather, spectacular scenery, and some amazing riding, be sure to check out Los Senderos de Colón Bike Park in Costa Rica. Just make sure your insurance premiums are up to date before you give El Ciclón a try.
MENTIONS: @Los Senderos de Colón / @Ciclon Bike Shop / @castpack / @DiegoSoma / @rcastillo114 / @its-chris
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