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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-26-08, 01:11 AM   #1
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A fascinating story about cycling and carfree people in Costa Rica

While reading a blog this morning, I found a hilarious true story that I think will interest a lot of you on this forum.

The story was written by a Bikeforums member who sometimes posts on the LCF forum. We know him as crtreedude. He lives in rural Costa Rica, where he and his wife run a finca that's involved with wood products and reforesting the rain forest for the benefit of the people who live there. He isn't carfree because he has to visit plantations all over the countryside, but crtreedude uses his bike as much as possible for work, play and daily errands. His blog posts reflect the happiness he finds in his work and his life.

Crtreedude gave me permission to post this, and he said he'd check in to respond to any questions or comments. He's doing great work down there for the environment and the local economy. Here's the story as it was originally posted in his blog:



Riding Bikes

Since I have been in Costa Rica, my inspiration for riding my bike is seeing so many people riding bikes of all ages ó all ages of people, too. The skill level is incredible. Not for chicken hopping, of which I am the local king (they donít have clipless pedals) but for the ability to ride a bike in the weirdest of possible combinations. Imagine the following: A woman 35 or so riding down the road and between her and the handle bar is a 3-year old sitting on a plank cut to fit snugly on the top tube. It is raining, so she is holding an umbrella with one hand and steering with the other. There is a bulky package dangling from one side of the handle bar. She isnít riding on pavement, but on a challenging road made of river rock dumped on it and hammered into the sand and mud by traffic. For her, this is no big deal. The ones she considers skilled are the guys who commute to work with their wives. She sits on the plank in front of him. On the way, they are going to drop off the baby she holds in her arms at the sitter, and they will swing by the elementary school to drop off the kid standing behind Dad on the posts that stick out from the wheel hubs. No need for diamond lanes ó cars give these bikepoolers a wide berth.

Most people here are small, but I have seen two ladies, each about 50 and each weighing more than 300 pounds, riding on a BMX ó yeah, both of them on the same bike. One was pedaling, the other was standing on the posts. They were chatting and laughing the whole time.

Then there is the crazy old geezer around here who rips through town at 30+ kph (19+ mph) on a well-used Cannondale F900 hardtail. Today he caught up and passed two policemen on a motor scooter who waved and smiled at him as he passed. He is quite the sight, I am told, with his white hair whipping behind him and his legs spinning like crazy. I have never seen him myself, since I donít look at my reflection in store windows as I passÖbut I have heard the stories.


This story is found in crtreedude's blog called "Life in the Campo: Reforesting and Living in the countryside of Costa Rica. Check there for many more interesting entries.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:29 AM   #2
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Treedude is a great guy, and writes lucid, entertaining posts.

He's quite the philosopher, as well.

A good man to have on the board .

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Old 03-26-08, 07:39 AM   #3
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That is awesome! Makes me want to get out of the US to go somewhere even if it was for a little while. *sigh*
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Old 03-26-08, 07:45 AM   #4
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Treedude is a great guy, and writes lucid, entertaining posts.

He's quite the philosopher, as well.

A good man to have on the board .

East Hill
See what you made me do - go and blush!

Thanks for the very kind words.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:47 AM   #5
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Oh, a foto to go with the story if you like.

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Old 03-26-08, 07:53 AM   #6
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See what you made me do - go and blush!

Thanks for the very kind words.

The truth needs to be told, treedude!

What kind of fish are in the river there?

And how deep is that?

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Old 03-26-08, 08:49 AM   #7
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That is awesome! Makes me want to get out of the US to go somewhere even if it was for a little while. *sigh*
Contact crtreedude. He's posted that people should. He can probably give you some ideas.
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Old 03-26-08, 09:06 AM   #8
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The truth needs to be told, treedude!

What kind of fish are in the river there?

And how deep is that?

East Hill
The river is called Rio Cote and it passes at the bottom of the finca / plantation we live on. It has pools that are 10 feet deep with lots of fish. Guapote and sabalo more than anything else. Guapote is rainbow bass and sabalo is of the same family as tarpon, but smaller.

Lovely swimming, just about perfect temperature. We have rapids and pools up in our section with a peagravel bottom.
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Old 03-26-08, 09:25 AM   #9
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That is a very enlightening read! I enjoyed every word of it! Thank a lot for what you do crtree! I need to make my way down to Costa Rica.
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Old 03-26-08, 11:55 AM   #10
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That is a very enlightening read! I enjoyed every word of it! Thank a lot for what you do crtree! I need to make my way down to Costa Rica.
Thanks - I would feel more smug if it wasn't so much fun.
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Old 03-26-08, 12:56 PM   #11
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One of only two blogs that I have bookmarked and check regularly.

One of these days I'm gonna just head south on my bike and not stop till Costa Rica!
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Old 03-26-08, 01:15 PM   #12
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Well, if anyone travels up to this part of Costa Rica, I expect a visit!
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Old 03-26-08, 08:37 PM   #13
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Fascinating read! How did you get started in Costa Rica? I seem to remember something about this from one of your BF posts a while back.
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Old 03-26-08, 08:50 PM   #14
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The business model behind Finca Leola is pretty interesting too. http://www.fincaleola.com/index.php
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Old 03-27-08, 05:14 AM   #15
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Fascinating read! How did you get started in Costa Rica? I seem to remember something about this from one of your BF posts a while back.
We got started in Costa Rica because my wife had a life long dream of being fluent in Spanish. This is why it is called Finca Leola, that is because it is her middle name. I figured if it didn't work out I could say it was her fault...

Since she had put up with my chasing career for more than 2 decades, I figured it was time to make her dream come true. And, I needed something to do.

We started out to only grow trees for ourselves - but then it turned into growing trees for others too. And a short time after that, we decided it wasn't reforestation unless the end result was a forest, so we are using the plantation trees to be the nursery for the permanent rainforest.

We have planted more than 80,000 trees up to this point, and this year is looking like more than 30,000 trees (we have already sold more than 23,000)

By the way, if anyone is interested, there is a group price for BF people. I give the quantity discount for 1,000 trees to anyone from the group since Joe and Heather already bought some. (Joe as in Joe Gardner, the original owner of Bike Forums)
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Old 03-27-08, 07:31 PM   #16
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Your premise about the business is an interesting one. http://www.fincaleola.com/why_invest_in_trees.htm

I guess I never thought that diminishing resources like hardwood(and I can think of others... like natural-habitat fish...) would be worth a considerable amount in the next 25 years. I suppose you could make the argument for a number of resources, but certainly from what I have seen of softwood in North America, I would have to agree.

In effect, it is something like a carbon credit, but seems a little more like a regular financial investment. Especially if you could use Roth IRA money.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:58 PM   #17
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There are things in the streams beside fish. I was down in CR last spring and there were several crocs in one creek on the coast that I pedaled over on a daily basis. Each evening my nephew would go down and toss raw chicken to them. I joined him one night and saw an 8 footer.
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Old 03-28-08, 04:52 AM   #18
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Your premise about the business is an interesting one. http://www.fincaleola.com/why_invest_in_trees.htm

I guess I never thought that diminishing resources like hardwood(and I can think of others... like natural-habitat fish...) would be worth a considerable amount in the next 25 years. I suppose you could make the argument for a number of resources, but certainly from what I have seen of softwood in North America, I would have to agree.

In effect, it is something like a carbon credit, but seems a little more like a regular financial investment. Especially if you could use Roth IRA money.
I recently wrote an article for EcoWorld - you can read it here. The Resource Revolution

In it I make a case (I believe) that the times of pillaging the resources of the planet are over as far as a viable business model. Let me know what you think of it.

We in Costa Rica are down to having only 50% of the wood we need for internal use. It is estimated to be at 25% in two more years. This is from a report done by the government on the situation.



Of course, this effects price. Wood jumped 26% between the years 2006 and 2007 - and I assure you (since I have to buy for our furniture factory) it isn't slowing down now.
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Old 03-28-08, 05:01 AM   #19
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I am not trying to push trees sales just so everyone knows, though I sure like when we do. It isn't because we need sales, but because everytime we sell trees, another 13,000 feet reverts back to forest (over time). Already we are over 2 square kilometers reforested and now preserved forever.

One other thing - there is a planned price increase April 1st. If anyone is even thinking about this - contact me (PM is good) so that you can get in before the price increase.

Not all trees are 25 years by the way, the most profitable (as far as Internal Rate of Return) are the shortest period of time. We have a spreadsheet that explains how it works.

Sorry for the commercial - but I wanted people to know about the impending price increase.

Though we cannot be carfree, I feel an affinity with the people in this part of the forum. The reason is that I like when people do something, instead of just talking about it. People who have gone carfree are doing something positive about the environment, instead of waiting for everyone to come up with what we should be doing. This I think is the key.
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Old 03-31-08, 12:26 PM   #20
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Treedude-- I have questions about the bikes. What kind of bikes do the people use? How much do they pay for them? I assume it's a lot (by their incomes) because it sounds like family members share them, rather than having a bike for each person.

And what about the carfree situation there? It sounds like the roads are pretty rough--maybe more practical for bikes than for cars. There are so many places in the world (even urban America) where bikes are better transit than cars, but even so the people want cars instead. Is that the case in CR?
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Old 03-31-08, 12:45 PM   #21
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When you get out to the country side, you have bikes, walking, horses and public transportation. There are some cars and pickup trucks etc, some of them new. However, they are pretty rare. Old vehicles are a bit more common, but the cost of fuel and upkeep tends to reduce the numbers. Motorcycles are very common - more like dirt bikes.

The main roads are actually pretty good, but you get off them pretty quick once you aren't heading to a decent size town.

A bike is about 100 to 200 dollars - very basic. It will be either a cruiser for in town, or a mountain bike for off the road. There are BMX bikes too.

Helmets for bikes are almost never seen. After all, a helmet is the same price as a bike just about. Besides, they don't go very fast.

I think people do want to have a car here as a status symbol, but there aren't that many of them - and they usually have to sell it. Of course the Gringos have infected people (I am a Gringo too!) with the idea of having a car. But, many Gringos who come here choose instead to walk or take public transportation, which is cheap and very available - even to the dirt roads.
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