The Rider: Paulo Valle has been riding bikes as long as he can remember. Hailing from San Jose, Costa Rica, he started as a youngster, cruising his neighbourhoud and building jumps with his friends. His early appreciation for speed and air made BMX racing a perfect fit for the young ripper. The competitive spirit that Valle honed while racing BMX translated seamlessly to mountain bikes when he first rode one in 1990. He quickly rose through the ranks of Costa Rica's professional race circuit, ultimately winning national championships in both DH and XC. These days, Valle has long since stepped out of the race scene, instead pouring his energy into trail building - and sharing his trails with other riders as the main Costa Rica guide for Vancouver-based tour company Big Mountain Bike Adventures.
The Scene: In today's Costa Rican mountain bike scene, Valle is a rare breed of rider. While road and cross-country dominate the riding community, Valle is one of a handful of riders with a healthy appetite for challenging technical terrain that pushes the limits of both rider and bike. Whether it's a blessing or a curse, he is a lone soldier, building and riding on his own terms.
The Trail: Valle's network runs throughout the Talamanca Mountains near San Jose, where he has been building trails for about nice years. Topping out at just over 12,000 feet, the range offers long, technical descents from high alpine areas to jungle terrain, with many trails ending in the coffee plantations that are scattered across many of the region's valleys. When approaching trail building, Valle looks for his routes to form organically by letting the terrain dictate how the trail will flow. By taking advantage of natural obstacles, his trails have a raw, natural feel that can challenge even the most seasoned veteran. His ultimate goal is to have a network of unapologetically technical singletrack that connects the Pacific and Atlantic sides of his country. Anthony Smith.