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Old 07-02-2013, 09:21 AM   #1
john_h OP
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Costa Rica June 2013 - Adventures on Red Clay...

This is my first official ADV Ride report, gang... First time dual-sporting out of the country. Here's a teaser:



And the general areas covered in 18 days:

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Old 07-02-2013, 09:45 AM   #2
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Pura vida !!

Nice Video, well done. S'scribed. Good to see roads there still eluding the asphalt monster. Are/were you going to be near Playa Negra? would love to see current video of that area as I haven't been there since early 2000's.
Have fun and ride safe!
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:21 AM   #3
john_h OP
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Laugh Gear, Luggage, and Costa Rica Basics

The Bike: 2012 Honda XR250:



I rented this from Thorsten at Wild Rider in San Jose. 2012 Honda XR250, carbureted, 34.5" seat height. Cost was $50/day. In general, its got decent ergonomics, and the suspension was capable for my very intermediate skills. He's got DRZ 400's and XR650's as well - passing power is a very nice thing to have on two-lane roads when a slow truck is leading the way - next time, I'm doing the 400.

The tires are 50/50's, which is fine for everything except for higher-elevation cloud forest, rustic red clay "roads"... To be safe, I'd suggest throwing down a few extra bucks and have Thorsten throw on a fresh knobby for the rear (more on red clay later... ).

Riding Gear
BMW Rallye 4 Jacket
Revit Mesh Pants
Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

June is the "shoulder season" and is intermittently wet, fairly hot and humid (80-90 degrees). Generally speaking, as long as I was moving even 10 mph, the gear allowed enough flow to keep me comfortable. Never had to take a break for overheating (and I'm 46 and in marginal shape at best ).

Luggage
The Giant Loop Great Basin bag, an extra dry bag, and GL Tank Bag worked great. Enough room to stow all my stuff for the flight to CR in one piece, and it fits the XR250 fine, with easy on/off. I had 6 Rox Straps of varied sizes as well - works well for attaching the dry bag to the top of the GL bag (containing my boots).



Costa Rica Basics
What can I say - Costa Rica is fantastic. For anyone with reservations about travelling solo in Central America, CR will fix that. It is a very civil country. It is easy to navigate, convenient, not backwards-assed, not full of scammers, you don't have to barter for every little thing, comfortable. You wont get bogged down in trying to figure simple things out. The tap water was no problem for me, the food is off the hook, and the people are super. Not once did I feel vulnerable, even when I got stuck in the mountains and was on foot approaching dusk.

Must-Haves: more to be added...
GPS Ram Mount
Costa Rica GPS map (with topo lines)
Compass
Costa Rica Waterproof map http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Tra...costa+rica+map

I found both the GPS map and print map to be used in unison (understand, I'm still a fairly novice ADV Rider - this is my first trip out of the USA). The GPS is great for navigating cities and the "normal" roads, and has topo lines on it - However, it does NOT have the more rustic roads on it like the print map does.

The print map has much better detail for the smaller roads. But a word of warning - what looks like a "road" on the map, especially when going over the mountains, may be nothing more than a horse and quad trail. This is where the topo feature of the GPS helps. If a steep climb is indicated, road is primarily clay with grass on it, and you can't see the tops of the mountains due to the clouds - beware, it will likely be wet and slippery as catsh*t, and you could end up hiking out like I did!

All part of the adventure... Plus, its a great way to learn humility, Spanish, and make new Tico friends!
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shooby View Post
Nice Video, well done. S'scribed. Good to see roads there still eluding the asphalt monster. Are/were you going to be near Playa Negra? would love to see current video of that area as I haven't been there since early 2000's.
Have fun and ride safe!
Thanks for the input on the video - still learning how to assemble it properly...

Get off any single or double digit numbered highway/road, and you're on dirt - no worries there.

I'm back home now, btw. Didn't make it to Playa Negra, but I'm glad you suggested it for the benefit of me and everyone else to consider it... For a small country, there is SO much to see - I hardly scratched the surface...
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:13 AM   #5
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San Jose to Parrita

A nice, easy, wide gravel road from San Jose to Parrita via Santiago de Puriscal on road 239. The red mark is a great little restaurant overlooking the mountains - its near Alto Gloria. It's right at a left bend in the road and cannot be missed. It takes maybe 2 hours to get here once you leave San Jose.

More pics to come...







Good ol' pollo casado - $4




Parrita itself is not much of a destination, other than being just an authentic, non-touristy town. I gotta give a plug to the Hotel Wilson there - rooms were $30, the manager Jessica is a total sweetheart and speaks fluent english, great grub, and there's a nice Tico pub right down the street.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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Your ride report should bring back some fond memories as I rented from Wild Rider last year and thoroughly enjoyed Costa Rica... Bring it on!


Pura Vida,
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:30 AM   #7
john_h OP
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The funnest road I've ever been on...

Absolutely the funnest road I've ever been on: with one caveat...
Its all of maybe 25 miles, but it gets you deep into absolutely authentic Costa Rican back country - riding ridge lines, mountain views, water crossings, a steep climb over the coast range and into the clouds, and back to the coast. Here's the google map.

I absolutely recommend this with one caveat - hit it before 12pm - later in the afternoon, that rustic road over the mountains can get wet and can become impassable - as I found out!



Close-up:


The print map lays out the route clearly: Hwy2 >Boruca>Colinas>Guagaral>San Rafael>Balsar>Hwy 34. Once in Guagaral, ask any of the locals where the left turn for the road over the mountains to San Rafael is - it is steep and has grass on it (i.e., quad/horse trail at best, but epic). You'll find it - there's no other options heading west once you're in Guagaral. In fact, the road heading north past guagaral terminates at a river, so you will have to head west, or end up doubling back and having to find a way north to road 244. Be sure to be prepared with some basics in case you have to stay overnight someplace other than where you intended :)

Making that climb up the mountains was 10 minutes of pure exhilaration - because I had traction :)





And at the top - notice the weather looking west... and how I'm picking up clay in that 50/50 rear tire as well...



Heading further on, this is what the road turns into:



Couldn't ride it in either direction, couldn't walk it up anything - at 5pm, with the sun going down in 30 minutes and pitch black in 60 minutes, it was time to start hiking and figure out a way to get myself back to civilization :)
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:33 AM   #8
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Hey guys, quick question - would you ever attempt such a road on a 425lb 1997 F650 with proper knobby tires? My belly tells me it can make the climb if dry, but I'm not sure if the knobbies can overcome the weight issue in the slick stuff....
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:03 AM   #9
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cool. i think i recognize that road...
looks like you had a good time !
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:47 AM   #10
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:58 AM   #11
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Nice pics... keep 'em coming. Would like to see a map that shows your full ride if you have it available.

Any plans to go back to CR? If so I can recommend a lot of amazing rides around the Nicoya peninsula. You picked a good time to go too, in the rainy season the trails get more challenging and the hotels are cheaper and there are less tourists, and the sunsets are more striking. The only downfall is that some rivers are too deep and require back tracking or detours to find a rickety bridge. I love the rainy season in CR
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by señormoto View Post
Nice pics... keep 'em coming. Would like to see a map that shows your full ride if you have it available.

Any plans to go back to CR? If so I can recommend a lot of amazing rides around the Nicoya peninsula. You picked a good time to go too, in the rainy season the trails get more challenging and the hotels are cheaper and there are less tourists, and the sunsets are more striking. The only downfall is that some rivers are too deep and require back tracking or detours to find a rickety bridge. I love the rainy season in CR
Spot track map added to the first post...

I do have plans to go back - and soon - I picked up a marketing project down there by chance :) I'd love to pick your brain about additional routes and especially how I should acquire wheels down there - by shipping/riding my F650 or 800XC, or buy a bike there and sell it when I figure I don't need it any more. My inclination is to ship/ride the F650 as its capable enough for most roads, comfortable, has passing power, and is durable and easy for me to maintain.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_h View Post
A nice, easy, wide gravel road from San Jose to Parrita via Santiago de Puriscal on road 239. The red mark is a great little restaurant overlooking the mountains - its near Alto Gloria. It's right at a left bend in the road and cannot be missed. It takes maybe 2 hours to get here once you leave San Jose.

More pics to come...







Good ol' pollo casado - $4




Parrita itself is not much of a destination, other than being just an authentic, non-touristy town. I gotta give a plug to the Hotel Wilson there - rooms were $30, the manager Jessica is a total sweetheart and speaks fluent english, great grub, and there's a nice Tico pub right down the street.
Well, Parrita is between two touristic cities, Jaco and Manuel Antonio, also you can go to Palo Seco where my friend have small hotel few meters from ocean. Parrita will grow up and that is why I bought two properties there so I can build my house and duplex (2013/14 )for my friends who would like to visit CR. Around Parrita you have zip lines, horse tours and best ATV tours are around Jaco. Now I have house at San Ramon which is good locaion for trips to Arenal, Monteverde, Cataratas de la paz, volcano poaz...just don't know if is it better ship bike from Miami to San Jose or ride it from Chicago to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is very beautiful and people are friendly and Pura Vida.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:10 AM   #14
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pura vida

Yes, it is pretty down there. Wife and I stayed in beach house just north of Flamingo several yrs ago. Buddy of mine has a beach house there. We didn't get around like you. We flew into Liberia, airport made by US during the Iran Contra affair. Took the Monkey Trail from Liberia to Flamingo. We went to San Jose and Arenal. Got tired of feeding 7 cats for house we were staying at while these people were in Europe. We felt comfortable there. Bars on windows though, and don't leave anything out that isn't tied down. Thanks for your report !
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