I normally just ride to work and back, even though the office is only 3.5 kilometers away, I tend to take the long way there and back. On an average day, I probably do between 20 to 30 kilometers with an 8 hour rest between.
Wednesday is a day off for me (not in the office) so after two days of commuting, I thought, I feel like a nice bike ride today...
I filled up the camelback hog I have (it did great!), threw a snickers bar in, grabbed a light breakfast and headed up the hill. The hill is a rise of 800+ meters in about 10 kilometers - and the road is pure rock, gravel and mud - mainly rounded rock. This is not prime road for cycling.
About the time I was nearly at the top (which is no longer tropical, but is cloud forest), it started raining, hard - and cold. Well, thankfully, I was at the top and moving along pretty good. Food was starting to sound pretty good and there is an excellent cafe called Germain Bakery in Arenal, so, I decended from the mountain in road over to the bakery - 7 more kilometers - arriving looking like a drowned rat.
One thing I really like about Costa Rica is no one minds at all when you show up shall we say, a little worse for wear - you are not made to feel like a bum (a very nice bike probably helps in that...)
Anyway, two cups of cafe con leche and a croissant stuffed with ham and cheese and I am feeling pretty good. I sat around chatting waiting to see what the weather would do. It started clearing so I thought - hmmm, I am feeling pretty good - I think I will ride more and headed out along the Arenal Lake to the dam (27 kilometers). At the last minute I bought a pastry stuffed with apricot for the trip - and I was glad I did.
The road along the lake is very nice, not super smooth, but is asphalt - after what I just came over it was wonderful. The views along the lake are incredible as well. Because the land is very hill around the lake it is rolling hills. Climb a hundred meters and then shoot down again. Really nice intervals if you are into that kind of thing. I only had one dog chase me for the whole trip, and it wasn't serious. I did have some coatis looking for a handout...
Because of taking pictures (which are all on the portable - and not with me!) I was stopping occassional for a photo op. There isn't much a long the lake for services - just Toad Hall but I wasn't really needing anything and figured I would push through until I got to the dam where there is a food stand for tourist.
Well, I arrived at the dam - and the stand wasn't there! ARGH!!! no food left, it is lunch and I am hungry. Well, a quick rest to straighten my back and rest my shoulder (my left one was damaged pretty badly about 7 years ago) and back on the bike, searching for food. First place available - Tabacon.
Tabacon is probably the most expensive hotel in the area - very ritzy and high class. I am more than a little damp (it has rained on me occassionally along the lake) and very hungry. I stop and ask if I can eat in the restaurant - sure they say, not a problem at all - but you will need to leave your bike with the guards. Cool, I leave the bike in the guard station.
For lunch, start off with a blackberry milkshake ( not exactly, lighter than a milkshake - we call them batidos) and order a cheeseburger with fries. They bring a basket of fresh baked bread and homemade potatoe chips and indian bread (as from India) - this is a very good restaurant by the way. My seat was overlooking the hot springs - note to self - bring something to soak in hotsprings next time!
The waiter filled up my camel back with ice water from his pitcher.
Thankfully, after Arenal to La Fortuna, it is pretty much downhill (after you climb out of the ravine!) - nice ride. In that section was the only place I was crowded by some dumb cager tourist type. A car was coming toward me and he couldn't wait 5 seconds for the car to pass - not a lot of traffic. Just to make it worse, only a short time later, he turned into a hotel! I almost pulled in and yelled at him in Spanish but I decided to be nice. (Nothing scares people more than being yelled at in a foriegn language!) I just hope he was embarrassed. The normal behavior is for someone to come up behind, tap their horn twice to let you know that they are there, and then go ahead when and IF there is space. They do not crowd you. The other thing I get is them staying behind, clocking my speed and wondering how long I can keep it up!
When I got to La Fortuna and went over to a friends house to see if he could give me a ride, nope, he was working, so I called the office and had my assitant meet me on the way to Guatuso. I was getting pretty tired at 65 kilometers so I didn't feel I wanted to go all the way (110 kilometers). He started out at the same time as I did.
From La Fortuna to El Tanque is flat. While shifting the chain came off so I was putting it back on when two young men passed me on road bikes... I think I am as bad as dogs, I see something go by and I have to chase it - at least I don't bite.
Anyway, it was a great place for a race - we were cruising along at about 37 kilometers and after to or 3 kilometers I caught up and passed them. Then one of the wanted to race, so I found I still had some left and cranked it up to 45 kilometers per hour - I should be embarrassed. I mean, I have white hair and I am out racing. I would feel worse if I didn't win... I honestly was amazed that I still could - I could just imagine their reaction if they had known it was at the END of 70 kilometers. In fact, I kept pedaling hard until I met up with my assitant. He drove 30 kilometers in the same time I did 15 - which isn't bad at all. I was feeling so good I really didn't want to stop but I I figured I would save the last 30 kilometers for another day.
Everyone is amazed that I did it (including me!) and even more amazed that I wasn't really sore the next day. It was a great ride and I am looking forward to doing it again. I didn't eat that much the day of the ride, but I made up for it the next day...