Costa Rica: Outside my Comfort Zone

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by EvilClown, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. 2twisted

    2twisted NRTHJSTNRTH

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  2. NHBill

    NHBill Loosely Wrapped

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  3. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Location:
    In the shadow of the Uncanoonucs...
    :nah

    Not quite. Yer getting ahead just a wee bit.

    Well, technically, yes, it's lunchtime. Or close enough. We're just not eating yet. We have more 'splorin' to do. After our snack which I'm pretty sure included ice cream.

    Nope. Yer doing just fine. Keep tossing in the bones.:deal

    Thanks, Tim, Bill and Timba. Glad someone's still out there reading. This was one of the most interesting days.:evil

    Now, where were we...?



    Snack time over and the crowd at the store rolling away on the bus, we gear up and ride.

    You recall the fork earlier in the day...

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    ...we take the other leg...

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    ...or a leg off the leg...there were a few of them to choose from...

    It was around here if you're following along with your map.:D

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    Cell phone pics don't do it justice.

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    The houses run from one extreme to the other...

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    ...

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    ...

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    A shot of the local realtor's sign is taken while I wonder how the kids survive with that electrical panel wide open.

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    Eventually the road peters out to a trail into the parque where the 'No fun' signs are proudly displayed.

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    We check our maps...

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    ...make our way back to another turn...

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    ...taking a moment to smell the flowers. Or at least photograph them.

    Cell phone version...

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    ...camera version...

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    You be the judge.

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    Another bridge...

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    ...leads to a gated road...

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    We make our way back...

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    ...

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    ...to the fork from this morning...

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    ...following the two-headed horse...

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    ...

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    ...back past the school yard with yet another shift of students...

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    ...to the restaurant we'd seen next to the store earlier.

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    It's on the rustic side...

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    We head in, order up some lunch...

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    ...update our maps of where we think we've been today...

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    ...and watch the beauty behind the counter prepare our meals.

    She brings it over...

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    ...trout! Or la trucha.

    In comparison to this place, the Pelicano where we stayed the night before and had the trout was on the foo-foo side of things. Relatively speaking. I'm here to tell you this trout is even better than that!

    While scarfing down our late lunch we discuss the day's ride and our plans. While it's been a great little ride it's now early afternoon and we still haven't found Alaska or Siberia...
  4. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    I am loving your RR....:clap

    And am taking notes as I think I will be doing CR on a bike in February or March...It's been 20 years since I was there last....and you guys have whetted my appetite :deal:clap:wink:
  5. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Glad to hear it. Thank you.

    In my limited experience (and what I've read on the interweb so it must be true) February/March is the perfect time to visit. Especially if your friends back home have snow while yer gone.:lol3

    Thanks for coming along.
  6. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Location:
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    On a semi related note...one more camera comparison...

    Cell phone, which I think takes an awesome picture for a phone...

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    ...camera...

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    In the earlier flower pics above they both have their own qualities I can warm up to - blues with the cell phone, greens with the camera. In this set the camera image wins hands down for me.

    In the field I was having my doubts about the then fairly new camera. Of course, this was based on what I could see on the display. The phone's display screen is much larger than the camera's. On a large screen/monitor it is pretty clear to me which one I prefer image-wise.

    Cell...

    [​IMG]

    ...camera...

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    No getting around the convenience of the cell, though.

    HTC Droid Incredible vs Pentax W90 in case you care.:1drink

    Ok, enough equipment review.
  7. prsdrat

    prsdrat Been here awhile

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    For those that may not know. The Policia in Costa Rica are the only
    paramilitary in the country, many villages have only one(or none) policeman. After the revolution of 1948, the defeated Army was kicked
    out of the country. Firearms are legal to own.
  8. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    Imagine that...a peaceful country with an armed citizenship.


    Based on the number of school kids we saw, they're busy making love not war. :deal
  9. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    Allright EC....where'd we go next??

    [​IMG]


    After you had a few words with St. Francis.....


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    And took a few artsy-fartsy pictures....


    [​IMG]


    Lead on brutha.....
  10. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the shadow of the Uncanoonucs...
    Comparing the paper map...

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    ...and the photo on my phone of Google Earth...

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    ...we spot a town. Piedra.

    We're off!

    Of course, now it begins to rain...

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    Just a sprinkle compared to yesterday.

    We make our way back down the 8 kilometers of dirt that was the last leg of yesterday's journey...

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    Reaching the bottom, we hang a right. This should be taking us norte.

    A couple of stops to take in the misty view...

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    ...

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    "No need to worry about the stray wires, Dave..."

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    ...

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    We move on, carefully picking the wrong forks...

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    "That name sounds familiar...think I recall seeing that on the map..."

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    ...

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    ...

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    "Dunno if we're on the right track or not but those roads on those ridges over there are what I'm talking about!"

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    We pick our way in the general direction...

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    ...

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    ...

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    We're gaining some altitude...

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    ...

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    ...

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    ...

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    ...further down the trail...

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    Down one of our many deadends we run into none other than Juan Valdez.

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    Until Dave catches up we have a rather awkward 'conversation' as I fumble through trying to figger out where this road leads. Dave catches up and saves the day. Not sure if we actually gain anything other than we'd be turning around soon but it is fun interacting.

    A few more kilometers...

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    ...a few more stops...

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    ...and finally, we find what we're looking for...

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    :clap:clap:clap
  11. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    I don't know which one of you is in the yellow Darien....and it looks like the armour is out of it (maybe not?).

    My recollections of CR is that it was hot and humid :deal....what was the Darien like in those conditions....?

    And were you wet inside just because of the heat/humidity???

    Thanks for any insight to temp-appropriate riding gear :wink:
  12. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    That would be me in my trademark dirty yellow Darien. The armor is in it, but the liner is out of it, which may be why it looks like that.

    CR has a variety of conditions, which makes it difficult to pack and dress for if your carrying capacity is limited like it is on a bike. From super high heat and humidity at the coast (115deg.) , to the mountains which are cool in the morning (45 deg) and hot and humid (90+) in the afternoons, plus the rain factor. I found the Darien without the liner to be a reasonable solution....Nothing that I can think of would be perfect, there's just too broad a set of conditions. There was quite a bit of discussion about this earlier in the RR which you can look back at. One important point: In the high,high heat..wearing less is not necessarily a good thing, unless you're hanging at the beach. Mesh is not a good idea. Not saying you will be comfortable, but you can manage. Bring polypropolene layers for underneath the Darien or the like.

    I'm not sure about your reference to me being wet. We got rained on HARD and eventually anything will leak, maybe that's what you're talking about, but we were always damp, from sweat.

    I hope that helps...
  13. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    Kamloops, BC

    WW,
    Thanks.... "damp from sweat" is what I meant.

    My Darien is 12 years old and, even though I wash it from time-to-time and spray it with NikWax repellant, it still wets out in some areas.....

    Thanks for the story and pics :clap
  14. Cromoth

    Cromoth fan of the magic carpet ride

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  15. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    EC in the lead....


    [​IMG]

    I feel the need to clarify something....EC keeps implying that I know something about speaking spanish. I don't.

    In spite of my desperate efforts to learn it, I actually really suck at it, and can only manage to understand the most basic interactions. So, don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, it's all smoke and mirrors.


    <IFRAME height=315 src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lUaCKJlUXBQ" frameBorder=0 width=560 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>



    He is right about this though....we were climbing fast.


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    .....


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    This was at the end of the road that we met Juan Valdez on....


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    Recognize that tomatoe, you probably bought it last March...after EC watered it....


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    ....


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    What's with that weird dangly thing??? Kinda creeps me out.


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    ...


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    Like EC said...if we had any goal whatsoever on this trip...it was to go to Alaska, Costa Rica. Hard to believe that we picked this spot a few months ago, and here we were finally. This is a pretty remote spot, at least by Costa standards. We congratulated ourselves.... :clap


    [​IMG]
  16. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Location:
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    It's a cold, wet December day here. Has me thinking about warmer climes. Let's see if we can't get another segment done here. Now, where were we...?

    So, here we are, many months after conceiving the idea, in 'downtown' Alaska, Costa Rica!

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    Too early in the day to call it complete we decide we'll keep on exploring. After all, Part II of the plan had not yet been executed. There was still the Siberia piece.:deal

    We continue climbing...

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    ...

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    ...between the altitude and the steepness of he grade, the Tornadoes earn their keep...

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    ...

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    At some point during our ascent Dave asks about continuing or heading back.* It is getting kinda late in the afternoon considering it does get dark at 6.

    "I'm the wrong guy to ask. Once I'm this far I'm not one to turn around. I've got to get to the top even if it isn't the smahtest thing to do...":lol3

    Apparently, taking leave of his senses, he agrees to continue leading the climb...

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    You gotta remember, he's the smaht one of the group.

    We climb even higher...

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    ...until we're into the into the clouds.

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    Our ride up through and subsequently above the clouds is surreal...

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    ...

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    ...the riding is heavenly...

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    ...the views definitely do not suck.

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    In spite of it, Dave glances at the time and does a face palm.

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    Ok. I made that part up.:lol3

    Prolly not too far off, though, as he tells me his bike seems to be running out of gas.:huh

    Gassoline out in the middle of no where being overrated, we continue forward...

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    ...

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    ...

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    The road disappears into another layer of clouds...

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    ...but eventually opens back up overlooking the valleys below...

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    ...where we stop and take it all in...

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    It is absolutely breath taking!







    *My recollection. Maybe it was just something I sensed from body language, etc. It's been awhile...
  17. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Location:
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    After our obligatory photo shoot...

    [​IMG]

    ...and picking up our dropped jaws we decide we'd better move on. It's getting late.

    We weave our way up the rest of the mountain and refer to the photo of the map taken earlier in the day to make what we hope is our last turn to get us out to the main road - aka Cerro de la Muerte, or Mountain of Death

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    At the next intersection is a soda...

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    We head in to see if there is gas anywhere near by. I check the view out the back while Dave speaks with the woman behind the counter...

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    I guess if 39 kilometers is near by the answer is 'si'. It's down in San Isidro.

    Dave's already running on fumes which means I can't be too far behind him. It's about 5:45 so it's going to be dark in 15 minutes. To get to San Isidro we have to travel the Cerro de la Muerte - one of the 10 most deadly roads in he world.:huh

    "Hmmmmmmm..."

    We consider our choices. A) Back down the way we came - much of which was a goat path - only now it will be dark or 2) take our chances out on the 'Pass of Death'.

    We rationalize that it's paved and there will definitely be gas down in San Isidro with the operative word be 'down'. Worse case we will coast into town and figger it out from there.

    Dave in the lead, we hit the road. There's still a little light. If we can make some time we may be able to at least get some of this road out of the way before dark.

    Considering how hard it was to find the Pelicano yesterday during the daylight we've also had the discussion that we may have to find another place to stay tonight. This floats around in the background as we wind along trying to enjoy the twisties. There isn't a straight stretch to be had.

    Not too far into our descent my bike just isn't feeling right.

    "Hmmmmmm..."

    Standing up on the pegs I look over the fender to see I have a front flat.

    "Oh, goodie."

    Dave continues down the mountain as I pull off the side of the road to check out the situation.

    "Yep. It's flat."

    Eventually, Dave sees I'm no longer there and comes back...

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    Thankfully, we have some tools with us. Including a pump. We dig it out thinking we'll see how big of a leak we have. Maybe we can limp back and deal with it at the hotel. For all we know this thing has been slowly leaking all day and is just now becoming apparent on the faster paced twisties.

    Pump on the schrader valve, we begin...

    "Hmmmmmmm..."

    Nothing seems to be happening.

    Dick with it.

    Same thing. Lots of pumping. No inflating.

    Watching the trucks careening towards us on the outside of the curve gives us pause. We decide it may be wize to get set up across the road on the inside of the curve before we continue.

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    Feeling slightly safer, we finally figger out if one of us clamps the pump onto the valve stem as tight as we can while the other pumps we can get the tire to inflate.

    Warning: this may appear a bit disturbing.:lol3

    <IFRAME height=360 src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/1787209422_fhgxg3W?width=640&height=360&albumId=22363490&albumKey=Jdtwf9" frameBorder=0 width=640 scrolling=no></IFRAME>

    Two monkeys and a football.

    "Glad I tried this thing before leaving home.":baldy

    Told you Dave is the smaht one.

    Just for fun, let's review. It's darn near dark, we're on the Pass of Death, we have a flat tire. Oh, and let's not forget we're almost out of gas.

    Oh, yeah. Remember the discussion about might needing to find another room if we can't find our way back? By now I've also learned that Dave gave the room key to the dood at the desk before leaving. "What's the problem you say?" After dinner they all leave.:deal Yer on yer own. Even if we do manage to find our way back we may not be able to get into our room.:huh

    Tire aired up, we decide to give it a go and see how far we can get before darkness completely takes over. To save the suspense, not far. BTW, it's actually much darker than the pics represent.

    Maybe ten minutes down the road I pull over again. There's another little soda. We decide to ask if they may have an air pump.

    This is one of the fun things about traveling abroad with a language barrier. This simple question actualy takes some time to unfold.:lol3

    Long story longer, they don't have one. We proceed to attack the football again. By now it's dark. Mid-way through the monkey/football procedure our friend from the soda comes out and tells us just down the road there's a place that may have a pump or compressor. At least that what we think it all means. Again, this takes much longer than it does to read it.

    Aired up, we go find out.

    Sure enough, on the left we see a garage with a handful of guys hanging around out front shooting the breeze. We pull in. More grunts and gestures (on our part) and buddy comes over with an air tank. By now we've concluded that a more permanant fix is going to be needed if we expect to ever get anywhere tonight.

    We somehow convey this to the guy with the tank who is also presumably the owner. He manages to tell us he doesn't fix tires. One of the guys hanging around out front jumps in and says he can. More importantly, he will. We just need to follow him down the road to his place.

    He jumps in his car, and with a little air left in the tire, we follow on the bikes.

    A little ways down the road he pulls into a driveway. There's a small house with a tiny garage area behind an iron gate. He gets out, swings it open and waves us in.

    To the left is a small 'closet'. Swinging the door open reveals a collection of tools hanging on the door and a compressor he kicks on.

    [​IMG]

    While he collects his tools Dave and scan the room, find a log, get the lame bike propped up on it and proceed to remove the front wheel. It all seems to happen as if it has been well rehearsed by the three of us.

    Tire off, we go through the process. Actually, at this point our new friend goes through the process of getting the tube out...

    [​IMG]

    ...then repairing the tube...

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    While he repaired the tube we checked the inside of the tire to find the culpret - a thorn.

    Tube repaired, tire back together and on the bike we're ready to roll.

    The Spanish equivalent of "How much?"

    It's like a buck. Dave thinks to tip him. Everybody is happy.

    "Muchas gracias!"

    We roll.

    Somewhere along the way I switch to reserve in spite of all my coasting. Soon enough we see the lights of the city.

    On the edge of the city is a gas station. We roll in and fuel up.

    "Whew!"

    Next is food and directions. So much for that early return, a nice dinner and a few relaxing Bavarias. It's about 8-8:30. The kitchen back at the Pelicano is now closed even if we were there. Gas station empanadas will have to do.

    Dave gets the directions and we head out looking for our next navigation point - a sign.

    Quite a ways down the road I pull over. Not sure why I was in front.:huh

    "I haven't seen the sign yet have you? It's been 10-15 kilometers..."

    "I wouldn't worry yet. Let's keep going for a while and see what happens."

    Off we go.

    Kilometers roll by.

    Pull over again.

    "Ok. Now we can worry..."

    Maps come out.

    "Let's head back and see if we see it from the other direction..."

    Off we go.

    Heading back towards the station for several kilometers I eventually see a sign with a name I seem to recall from the earlier look at the map and take the right. It takes us off the main road into complete darkness where the Tornadoe's headlamp is pushed to the limit. If the map and the road match this should take us over to where the Pelicano is.

    At an intersection Dave beats around the bush a bit. I'm sensing he's not a fan of this plan. Wandering around Costa Rica in the dark isn't a great idea. We decide we'll get back on the main road, head back to the gas station - a known quantity - and start over with new directions.

    It's been 10 days on the road. The thrill of today's 'adventure' is starting wear off. We're both tired and frustrated. If anything is going to go wrong between us on this trip now is a prime time.

    We get closer to the lights of the city and muddle our way back to the station.

    Under the lights of the gas station canopy Dave gets new directions while I check out the van...

    [​IMG]

    We roll back out into the darkness. Our new directions include landmarks rather than signs that don't exist.

    Plodding along, we find the first left turn we had been looking for. This eventually leads us through an intersection we had come through yesterday from the other direction. We're on the right track.:clap

    We keep heading towrds the next turn that should be the dirt road heading up to the Pelicano. Finding it, we head up the hill. The last 8 kilometers is nearly as long as it was yesterday in the pouring rain. As we slowly motor along I try not to get concerned about whether or not we'll be able to get into our room. No need wasting energy on that problem until it happens - if it happens. We'll figger it out if we can't.

    We spot the entrance to the driveway and make our way up. Pulling into our parking spot and unloading the bikes, desk dood appears from out of no where.

    "Boy, are we glad to see you!"

    "I had your room key. Wanted to make sure you can get in."

    "...*Reader's Digest version of above*...What's the chances of you selling us a few of those Bavarias out of the cooler before you head back home?"

    He hooks us up. We head to the room, ditch our stuff and head out onto the porch with our beers reveling in the day's events while staring into the clear Costa Rican sky.

    Pura vida!
  18. ScottyBoy

    ScottyBoy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
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    58
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    Gtown NH
    Thanks for the update EC. It was kinda miserable out today.:cry
  19. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    Phew....we survived that Mayan thing.

    I just climbed outa my bunker and found that EC has supplied an update on the ride report. He's on a roll now :evil

    Ok, so we've headed off into the unknown (to us) Central Costa Rican Cordilleras, with nary a single thing we might need in the event of a....well whatever.
    Churning our way up switchback after switchback, climbing and climbing. The trusty Tornado's are gasping for air, they don't like this one bit. In fact, in order to make it up each run between switchbacks, we have to pull the clutch, and wind the engines up to about 6-7K to get them up into the meat of the power curve, and then drop the clutch, lurching upward. We have to keep doing this two or three times each run, until we make it up to the next turn. Then do it again, and again.

    I notice the time.......just can't help it. We don't really know where we are, and we don't really know if we can even get out this way. Haven't seen a single soul in several hours. My mind plays through all the scenario's....we could spend the night out here...no tents or sleeping bags. Wouldn't be the end of the world by any means, just an uncomfortable night. We discuss it, and decide to continue on...can't be that much further, can it?

    Bike's running like crap....I think it may be running out of gas...definitely running out of air.

    We get rewarded with stunning views at every turn.

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    ...


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    ...


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    We finally make it to an intersection.....left or right? We choose left.

    Good choice...we start to see some civilization, and eventually it takes us out to what we figure is the Pan American. It's none too soon as darkness is approaching quickly. We have a long way to go to get back to the Pelicano, and much of it through unfamiliar territory for us....in the dark. Bikes running even worse if that's possible.

    We start down.....

    Where's EC? He was just behind me a minute ago. I turn around a go back....

    [​IMG]


    They say disaster is usually preceeded by a series of errors or minor miscalculations that turn into a larger event....is this our second or third one? I try not to think about it.

    The 18 wheelers are lumbering past us, a little close for our comfort. We move across the road, trying not to further compound our quickly eroding situation. We try to get some air into the tire, but only succeed with a little air and a great amount of effort. We're gonna have to get this tire fixed before we go very far. The cameras stop clicking as we get serious and try to figure out what to do. Thorsten said...if we get a flat tire, find one of the zillions of roadside tire repair shops and get it fixed. Doesn't seem like this is a likely place or time to get a tire fixed. We ride back up to the Soda we saw when we came out onto the Pan-Am. We have a really hard time getting our problem across to the lady at the shop. We move on until we find some guys hangin out in front of a house. We ask and they get it, and point us to the place we need to go. Unbelievable.....within a couple of miles where we find out we have a flat tire, there's a guy with a shop to help us.

    EC and I go to work getting the wheel off.

    [​IMG]


    We're fixed and back on the road in short order....

    Now we just have to find our way back to the Pelicano. I've actually come to terms in my mind that we're probably gonna spend the night in San Isidro. We find our way there and get gas. That's one thing off our minds.

    At the lower elevation, the bikes start to run a lot better and we head off in search of our base camp.....boy this does not look familiar at all. We make a few false starts and eventually find something that starts to look familiar. You never know what you're going to find in the road here and especially at night, its extra dicey. Dogs, donkeys, horses, potholes, boulders, you name it. It's pretty late by the time we finally make it back to the Pelicano. The owner is waiting for us. We score some Bavarians from him......We revel over the events of the day.....
  20. riderddonald

    riderddonald Lost rider

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    572
    Location:
    SE Ohio
    I don't know what would be worse, coming down that hill in the dark like you guys or in the clouds full of heavy dew like we did. I swear that was the worse conditions I've ever road in. Had my visor up and my glasses down on my nose looking over them with the moisture filling my eyes. I bet the views would have been great, and I'm glad my wife didn't know it was one of the 10 most dangerous inthe world. She handled it great tho. Keep it coming because I still have the CR fever bad.