With race day at GFNY Ecuador approaching, it’s time to get familiar with the course and start thinking about how you’ll tackle race day. It’s always worth some time to learn a bit about the race course you’ll be taking on, and prepare yourself mentally for the challenges to come. Strategy, nutrition, and pacing are all important concerns on race day, but they can only be done with proper knowledge of the course.
GFNY Manta Course
GFNY Ecuador is one of GFNY’s most well-rounded courses. It sports a challenging 108 mile distance, with a solid 6900 feet of climbing. The terrain ranges from challenging climbs, to flat and possibly windy sections along the coast, to rolling hills that require both power and punch. It’s truly a challenge for the complete cyclist, a rider prepared to handle a little bit of everything getting thrown their way.
The start is atop a hill just outside the town of Montecristi, which we will speed down to start the day. From there we head to Manta on fast, slightly downhill roads.
The peloton will buzz through Manta, heading through the town, past the beach, and then back out of town along the coast to the town of San Mateo.
From there, at 20 miles into the race, is where the warm-up stops, and the race begins. Leaving San Mateo is a long, gradual climb of 7 miles. Although the average is just 2.5%, the road is constantly changing gradients and is open to the wind in sections. This long, gradual climb will doubtlessly cause the first selection.
After the climb a short respite leads to a final, shorter climb, which takes us to the high point of the course.
At this high point on the course, just after thirty miles in, we hit a fast, curvy descent down to the town of San Lorenzo. Pay attention here for two reasons: first, we’ve got some fast sections followed by tight corners which can sneak up on you. Secondly, this descent will be a tough climb later in the race, and if you haven’t been able to preview it, now’s your chance to see what’s in store later on in the race.
GFNY Manta has a bit of everything, including leg-sapping rollers
Along the Coast to the Turnaround
After leaving the town of San Lorenzo, riders will tackle an out-and-back section along the coast. It’s just over 20 miles from San Lorenzo to Puerto Cayo, and this section tackles a bit of everything.
First, we’ll tackle a flat section along the coast. The prevailing winds here are crosswind, so be prepared for that. Brush up on our tips for crosswind riding.
Then, we hit the first real climb of the day, taking us high above the coast. This climb starts just before the 40 mile point and is 1.2 miles at 7%.
Pace yourself on the climb, because we don’t have an immediate downhill to rest. Instead, we have a long, rolling up-and-down section. You’ll descend some and climb some, but this stretch is generally downhill as we slowly work our way back to the coast.
Once we arrive at the coast, we have a flat section leading into the turnaround. The prevailing winds here mean this section will likely be crosswind.
We hit the turnaround at 60 miles into the race. Although the turnaround is past the halfway point in terms of mileage, the second half of the course is the more challenging, so you’re probably only halfway in or less in terms of ride time.
As this section of the course heads back on the same section of road we’ve just come out on, it’s a mirror image of the previous section of racing. The first part is open, flat crosswind near the coast, before we go very slightly inland and take on gradual rolling terrain that heads slightly uphill.
Again, this section could be described as ‘grippy’ or ‘deceptively hard.’ The rollers and wind that will be crosswind or perhaps cross-headwind are fatiguing, and the distance will start to set in, too.
At 81 miles into the race, we hit a fast descent; descending the hill we climbed at mile 40. From here it’s just a few miles of flat roads along the coast before we arrive to San Lorenzo and tackle the big challenge of the day.
Our biggest challenge of the day and the point where the final selection will be made; the second-category climb of El Aromo
Leaving San Lorenzo, the race arrives to the biggest challenge of the day: the 4.7 mile, 5.2% climb of El Aromo. This is the climb you descended earlier in the day, so you know the road already. The climb loops out of the city and takes you high above the coast, and although the average gradient isn’t steep, it pitches upwards of 13% in places. With 85 miles already in the legs when you hit the climb, these sections will feel even steeper.
Those fighting for a top result should be thinking about this challenge all day, saving their legs and preparing for the attacks. Those riders further back should also have the climb in the back of their mind and make sure they save some energy for it.
Fast back to Montecristi
When we hit the top of El Aromo, the race enters it’s final 20 miles, most of which will be fast racing back to the town of Montecristi.
First, we tackle a short plateau over the top of the climb. This section will be painful, as your legs will be hoping for a descent to recover, but you will have to keep the effort high for a few more miles.
Finally, after fighting over this plateau, you start a long, gradual descent. This section will be fast, but not so steep that you get to coast. Instead, you’ll be pedaling in your biggest gears, pushing the speed high. Those who came over El Aromo first will be pushing to maintain their advantage, and those behind will be chasing hard.
This descent will last all the way until mile 105, where we begin to climb again and face the difficult final challenge that GFNY Ecuador has in store for you.
A Difficult Final
GFNY Ecuador has one final difficulty in store for you, with an uphill finish to the finish above Montecristi. Here we’ll see those competing for the win in an explosive battle, while those further back will be giving it everything to arrive to the finish.
From mile 105 we start a steady drag uphill towards the town of Montecristi. This false-flat will wake your legs up for the final that’s to come.
With roughly .7 of a mile to go, we take a right off the main road and head through town. Soon after, the gradient spikes up north of 8% as we head through town. The gradient continues to turn upwards, and as we leave town on the road that takes us to the civic center that hosts start finish, it spikes up suddenly to over 14%. This final pitch will be a brutal end to 108 miles of racing.
Although the gradient eases off slightly in the final yards, the entire .7-mile climb averages 8%. It’s likely that the winner will emerge from the leading group on these 14% pitches, giving GFNY Ecuador a worthy winner.
Now that we’ve wrapped up our course guide, we should talk briefly about one of the most important aspects of success at GFNY Ecuador: Nutrition.
Nutrition is key in every race, but it’s especially important for this race. Why? Several reasons. First, the event is very long. The distance combined with the challenging course means racing times will be quite long. Secondly, the weather in Manta can be warm and will be humid. Finally, the with the main challenges of the day being in the final section of the race, racers need to arrive at the base of El Aromo with something left in their legs.
In order to be successful at GFNY Ecuador, you’ll need to master your eating and drinking. First, in terms of hydration, you should be aiming to drink 500-750 ml of fluid per hour. The key here is to start early and not get behind: since fluid absorption is fixed, it is impossible to ‘catch up’ once you’re behind.
Secondly, you need to be eating plenty of carbohydrates. We recommend a range of 60-100 grams per hour. Smaller and lower-level athletes can stick to the lower end of that range. Larger or very strong athletes should be aiming for the top end of that range. Click here for more information on nutrition.
It’s especially important to focus on eating and drinking at the start. Remind yourself or even set a small alarm on your cycling computer to remind you every 15 minutes to drink. While managing the peloton and the nerves of the start of a race it can be hard to remember to fuel properly. Getting started on the right path early in the day is key to finishing strong.