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Pablo Sanchez Proves a Beach Boy Can Succeed Drug-Free

By Arianna McKinney

Samara native Pablo Sanchez has become one of the top cyclists in Central America. And he’s found a way to balance athletic success with other aspects of life. 

In the morning, Pablo Sanchez is a businessman. His office is a hammock on Samara Beach, where he operates a surf and tour business. Midday he focuses on being a father, playing with his 5-year-old son, Slathan. The afternoon is dedicated to training as one of the country’s top cyclists, spending 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours daily bicycling through the mountains around Samara. And at night he enjoys his fourth role: husband to his wife, Crislith. 

“In my life, I have to divide myself in four phases,” he explained, his recipe for balance and success.  Sanchez, at age 32, defines success as “being satisfied with what you do,” and by that definition he considers his life a success.

His full name is Juan Pablo Sanchez Rodriguez, but others know him as Palucho. He was born and raised in Samara, living just 100 meters from the beach when Samara was a fishing village, before tourism dominated the local economy.

His favorite time of year in Samara is low season when not many people are around and he can enjoy the essence of what the beach really is: peace and tranquility. Although his family was poor, he managed to get an education, finishing high school and taking tourism courses at the University of Costa Rica.“We live in the beach, and if you want to have a decent job, you have to learn English,” Pablo noted.

From Surfer to Professional Cyclist
Pablo started surfing when he was 12. “I’m from surfer roots,” he remarked. Although his business involves surfing, he considers surfing a hobby. His sport is cycling, but he says he got into the sport late compared to other professional cyclists who generally start when they are children. Pablo said he had a BMX bicycle since he was 10, but he didn’t start racing until 1998 when he was 19, encouraged to pursue the sport by former professional cyclist William Vargas from San Jose.

With dedication and effort, Pablo has triumphed in one race after another, earning recognition as one of the best cyclists in the country. In 2011, he finished as the national champion in the Master A category (30 years and older) in both endurance and marathon. He also ranked as the fourth best Latin American Master according to the Union Cicliste Internationale (UCI – International Cycling Union).

Pablo with his wife and son. Photos contributed.
Pablo crossing Buena Vista River in Samara during Guanaride.
Photos contributed.

So far this year, the race that has meant the most to him was Guanaride, a 5-day journey of almost 500 kilometers from Liberia to Playa Tambor held in May. Overall, he won the Master A category, but even more significant for him, he won the second leg of the race from Playa Langosta to Samara, which was the first time that a cyclist from Guanacaste has won a general leg in such a prestigious race. He was especially proud to achieve this in his hometown. 

Dreadlocks but No Drugs
Growing up in a beach town like Samara, Pablo has seen many young people get involved in drugs, but his conviction is that being from the beach doesn’t mean you have to use drugs. “Sports in general are one of the few forms of staying away from drugs,” he said. A few years ago, people might not have believed him if he told them he never did drugs since he wore his hair in long dreadlocks, a style generally associated with Rastafarians and smoking marijuana. He started growing his hair long when he was 13 because it was in style in high school and attracted girls. However, he cut it off two and a half years ago because all that hair made it uncomfortable to wear a bicycle helmet, as well as being hot.

He hopes his example can prove to others that they can participate in a sport and “live in paradise” without drugs. He affirmed that he has never used drugs or gotten drunk, and when asked why not, he asks his own questions: Why should I have done it? What is the reason for doing it?
Long hair or short, Pablo is the same person inside. He affirms that he doesn’t need money to be happy. He derives his happiness from his work, his community, his sport, and above all else, being with his family. 


More Sports News

Triathlon Attracts 350 Athletes to Samara
Motorcross Event Saturday Supported Samara School

On the weekend of August 25 and 26, Samara filled with athletes from around the country, with about 350 participating in the various disciplines: running, mountain biking and swimming. 

Samara Will Host Triathlon Festival

Sports lovers should mark two days in August on their calendar when Samara will be the scene for the athletic triathlon festival August 25 and 26.



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