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As the bitter cold sweeps the nation, getting in those workouts can be a challenge. Imagine a scenario where during the cold of winter you could raise your fitness to the next level, work on your tan and take in some of the most beautiful vistas of La Isla del Encanto. Welcome to La Vuelta.

What Is La Vuelta

La Vuelta is a three-day, 375-mile cycling race where hundreds of cyclists circle the entire island of Puerto Rico and it’s currently underway. This year the race which launched in 2006, starts on Friday, January 25, 2013 and will finish on Sunday, January 27th. Cyclists will start off in Old San Juan and travel 155 miles to Ponce. While the first day is said to be the most challenging, and the longest, it has its perks. The trail allows bikers to see some the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico, take in views of Culebra and St. Thomas and a climb to the top of Camino Nuevo. Day 2 is a little easier, as the turf covered goes down to about 80 miles with the path going from Ponce to Mayaguez and allows riders to take in the small seaside village of Boqueron. On Day 3 the jaunt pumps back up to 131 miles as riders trek from Mayaguez back to Old San Juan where a celebration fit for kings and queens awaits. Sound like too much at one time? Fear not — La Vuelta is a fully supported and greenlit race — meaning that it is peppered with rest stops for riders to take a break or refuel and it has police escorts throughout so riders can continue without interruption.

Something For Everyone

The race is sponsored by the Puerto Rico Cycling Federation and has no shortage of pro’s that participate. Not a pro? No worries, there are pelotons (that means groups of riders in cycle-speak) for all skill levels that are broken down into three groups based on a miles per hour average. So for example, if you’re hardcore, you can opt to hang with the pro’s and join Group A — the 21 mph group. If that’s a little too intense opt for Group B — the 18 mph group or if you simply want to take in the island views fall back into Group C — the 15 mph group.

Know Before You Go

Andrei Uyehara, born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and hailing from San Francisco, is a veteran of the NYC marathon and a battle-tested endurance event enthusiast, actually got involved in La Vuelta on a lark. “One day, I was searching for a century bike ride to do and one of my co-workers dared me to do La Vuelta,” he said. “After stopping on their website and looking at all the material, I immediately registered. I thought this was the perfect challenge: A challenging ride along with the beautiful scenery of Puerto Rico. What a great combination!” Notwithstanding the enthusiasm and great scenery, the race has its challenges. Participants should be prepared to encounter a variety of terrain from rolling hills to flat surfaces and endure a humid, average temperature of approximately 80 degrees. But for Uyehara, the biggest challenge of the race was the pelotons. “Not everyone is experienced with riding in such a mass of people, present company included, but you learn quickly,” he explains. “[Respecting] the space and lines of others while they are cycling is key and will make for a safe ride. Cycling has rules. Follow those rules including La Vuelta etiquette and recommendations and you will surely have a great experience.”

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