After thirty six hours and barely enough time back in Florida to accomplish what was needed I was back to Fort Lauderdale airport for a flight to Costa Rica whilst Andrea remained behind to visit friends and family. The first ten days were spent just outside of San Jose at San Ramon de Tres Rios, only two kilometers from where day two of the La Ruta mountain bike race I was having another crack at was passing by – this year I vowed not to wreck on the first day! It was great to see my bike again after a year apart and we continue to be on good terms even though it demanded a good service.
Due to having to endure non-stop travels for the past year I was way out of shape and had only 5 weeks to prepare for this three day event – if I can’t put in 100% then it’s not worth racing! The first week back in Costa Rica was spent heading up the grind of a hill known locally as Volcan Irazu. To make things a little more interesting I had also agreed to ride a fatbike this year, including four inch tires and a huge weight disadvantage! The Team CoreCo founder Will Muecke had negotiated a new La Ruta category for fatbikes and before I’d even set sight on one of the eye-catching machines I had agreed once again to be part of at least a dozen riders adding a little more difficulty to an already grueling race – I can’t thank Will enough for lending me the bike and making me work so much harder. To settle in slowly I had the pleasure of riding my twenty pound Specialized S-Works for the ten days before collecting the new ride, and my wife for the trip to the Nicoya Peninsula.
It was also great to have my dad over from England for two weeks, accompanying us to Casa Colores, our accommodation in Montezuma. The order of the day was to be up before 5.30am each morning, ride from two to four hours and spend the rest of the day with father and wife. Unbeknown to me it would take a further hour to clean the mud from everything and a second breakfast would be required after all the hard climbing! The Nicoya Peninsula definitely gets a dumping of rain making many of the dirt roads impassable for anything other than ATV’s and fatbikes – this was my kind of terrain.
I rode primarily two routes I had been told about, one enabled me to buy fresh fish from Tambor and the other was a twenty one mile, mostly off-road loop with very steep hills, both up and down. Having the fattie with its ultra-wide tires and low gearing was a blessing, enabling me to confidently haul ass down gravel hills and grind up what seemed like almost vertical climbs. Anyone want to buy a full suspension Stumpjumper Expert so I can treat myself to a new toy?
With all the riding came the strength and confidence to drag myself and the bike along some pretty technical terrain, where I found I could go faster downhill, pedal uphill using less gears, and other than the deep mud I had to stop fewer and fewer times. I was becoming race ready much faster than I thought – thankfully over the previous months all the hiking and very limited gym use and mountain bike rentals must have kept me in some kind of shape! Our next stop is Herradura where the race begins giving me the chance to ride the long and steep sections prior to getting into the Carara rainforest. This would be a true test as I could still remember how tough those sections were last year.
The Southern Nicoya Peninsula
As well as great mountain biking the areas around Montezuma, including Santa Teresa, Mal Pais, and Cabuya offer beautiful stretches of empty beaches, waterfalls, rainforests and amazing flora and fauna. Our accommodation was perfectly located on the edge of Montezuma, directly on the food path for a group of local white-faced Capuchin monkeys – at breakfast one morning we had around twenty of the mischievous looking primates come scrounging for food, acting pretty aggressively when I went out with a banana. Every morning we woke to the sounds of howler monkeys, squirrels and many birds welcoming in a new day.
The majority of our time was spent walking on the beach, eating out at our favorite two restaurants, Tambor Tropical and Shambala in Santa Teresa, and late afternoon liquid refreshments. With Andrea finishing work at three in the afternoon whilst in Costa Rica it always gave us an excuse to visit a local bar or sit by the pool with beer and wine!
We were hoping that having my dad here visiting would bring us more luck on a four hour fishing trip we took – it was not to be. Last year we caught one fish, big enough to feed us for a week whereas this time we caught a meat-less needlefish and five not-so-smart seabirds who kept diving in and coming up with one of our trawling hooks attached to it. It was still a beautiful morning to be out on the water enjoying the sunshine, even if it did mean having to pay for a fish from the local fisherman the next day.
Overall it felt great to be back in Costa Rica where it all began on October 18th 2012. We only managed to spend one night on the Nicoya Peninsula last year so having two weeks to explore was a lot of fun, and would have been even more so if the roads weren’t in such bad condition. To make the ten kilometer drive from Montezuma to Santa Teresa was taking us over twenty kilometers now, especially having to drive a crap Hyundai rental car which we were slowly destroying. Another thing we discovered with all the rain and sun was how fast the trees grow here – we were in Playa Organos, close to the ferry port of Paquera one sunny afternoon enjoying oysters and beer. I had chosen a great shaded parking place and in the hour or so we spent there a tree must have grown behind the car causing me to reverse into it, breaking the rear light and putting a nice dent in the rear panel – Ooops! Lessons learnt – get an SUV and look before reversing!
The two weeks over here went by so fast in the end and it was sad to have to take my dad to the airport. We will miss him continuously washing and drying all the pots and pans, and making afternoon tea.
September 28th – October 12th 2013