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Old 01-16-2011, 06:56 AM   #16
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:23 AM   #17
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I left PC early, hoping to meet up with a friend on the island of Bocos del Toro which is about 600km from PC.

The road from Chiriqui to Puerto Amirante (where you catch the ferry to Bocos) starts off slow but you quickly climb to the peak of a mountain pass at about 1300m. The landscape looks a lot like any pass in the Rockies with evergreens, deep valleys and for some reason the building resemble ski chalets complete with steep pitched roofs. Since it's unlikely it would ever snow here I haven't a clue why they need this style of building.





I climbed higher into the clouds and into the mist. Visibility at times was less than 10ft which is a bit terrifying as there are few road signs and at times, no guard rails despite the huge cliffs. The road twists and winds it's way over the top of the mountain range and over a hydro electric dam. When the mist cleared, the terrain had changed and was more what you would expect for this part of the world.

It was at this point that I realized all the batteries for my helmet cams were dead. The steady rain made it impossible to run the cam off a power cord as it requires leaving the back hatch open which means it's no longer water proof.

I was trying to get as many pics as I could with my P&S but the rain and lack of places to pull over made it tough. It's really too bad as it's an amazing place.

Lush jungle plants, steep rocky cliffs and vines tower over the road. Though I never saw any, snake crossing signs are common on the road. Water falls become more common as you begin to descend. The road is new(ish) and the tight turns were bliss on a bike.





As you get closer to sea level the landscape again changes. Grass huts with thatch roofs are everywhere. Wide muddy rivers carve up the grassy savanna. The scene looks like the set of film about the Vietnam war, without all the death and destruction.

I had spent too much time sight seeing and it was getting late, almost dark in fact. I planned on stopping at the first hotel I found. Stopping several times to ask locals where the closest one was sent me farther and farther down the road. I was going the direction of Bocos which was good but it was pitch black and rain had my visor fogged over. Luckily for me (but not the oncoming drivers) the designers at Auto-Loc had managed to manufacture their HIDs kits with enough power that my lights now rival the sun.

The night drive lasted 75km before I ended up in Puerto Amirante which or course was my destination to begin with. I checked into "Hotel La Preferred" (yeah, really). It was $24 a night which was a bit steep but at this point in the day, I would have paid $100.

Once I got to my room I realized there was cable TV, AC and internet. I went to jump in the shower and noticed there were 2 taps Most showers here only have one tap, cold. Could it be? Could there actually be hot water here? Sometimes the knobs are there but the hot isn't connected to anything. I hadn't had a hot shower in, well, honestly I can't remember. I stared at the knobs for amost a few minute, pondering, wondering. Giddy with anticipation I twisted the knob and water came out, it was cool. Hmmm, maybe it needs to run for a bit to get the hot water up to the 2nd floor. I let it run for a minute or so. I was then greeted with a beautiful sight, steam! There was hot water, really hot water!!!

I hadn't had a hot shower in weeks and weeks. After a 9hr day on the bike, in the rain, the shower was the perfect end to a near perfect day.

This road is definitely one of the most scenic I've ridden. If you are ever down here, I'd say it's a must ride.

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Old 01-16-2011, 01:14 PM   #18
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Old 01-16-2011, 01:20 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by olyflyer View Post
there's a few kiwis chicks in town, so all good
How long are you around for? I'm not really sure how long I'll be anywhere at this point. I need to be back home for April 1 so about 10 weeks between here and there. I expect to be into Mexico the last week of Feb or first week of March. If you're going to be around then, let me know.

Cory
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:50 PM   #20
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Mention to HogWild which way the wind is blowing where you're at, wait 20 minutes, and he'll post a picture of the intersection your at and a Google Earth route of how to get there.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:20 PM   #21
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in
Jeremy, if your around when I come through TJ or San Diego, I'll have to stop and buy you a drink for all your help with the parts
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:41 PM   #22
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Jeremy, if your around when I come through TJ or San Diego, I'll have to stop and buy you a drink for all your help with the parts
yeah, NP, let me know.... I'm always around.... never take cool trips....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dread Pendragon View Post
Mention to HogWild which way the wind is blowing where you're at, wait 20 minutes, and he'll post a picture of the intersection your at and a Google Earth route of how to get there.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:27 PM   #23
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great ride and report ! what kind of panniers you got there ? how do you like them ? got a link for them ?
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:23 PM   #24
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great ride and report ! what kind of panniers you got there ? how do you like them ? got a link for them ?
They are Pelican 1440. They aren't the prettiest panniers you'll find but they are tough as nails. I have crashed numerous times and they are unscathed. 2 of the crashes were huge. One almost totalled the bike and the other almost totalled me. Both times the Pelicans came out looking great.

Lifetime warranty. If you manage to break one, you get a new one, plain and simple.

100% waterproof. Just a few hours ago I dumped my bike in a river (video, no pics). The panner with my expensive junk (like laptop, camera, external hard drive etc) was under water, resting on a rock. Even with the weight of the bike resting on it, it didn't deform and let water in. Simply awesome.

I bought them from Caribou Cases. They came with HepcoBecker racks (junk). If you look in my signature there's a link to my bike build thread. In there is info on what I had to do to fix the racks.

The only thing that I might consider replacing the Pelicans with would be some soft bags but simply for the weight savings. The pannier racks and cases are likely 35lbs or so. A Giant Loop or Wolfman soft bags are tempting. I go back and forth on the hard cases/soft bags debate. BUT I'd never run any other hard cases



Jeremy, I'll be in touch
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso Blanco View Post
They are Pelican 1440. They aren't the prettiest panniers you'll find but they are tough as nails. I have crashed numerous times and they are unscathed. 2 of the crashes were huge. One almost totalled the bike and the other almost totalled me. Both times the Pelicans came out looking great.

Lifetime warranty. If you manage to break one, you get a new one, plain and simple.

100% waterproof. Just a few hours ago I dumped my bike in a river (video, no pics). The panner with my expensive junk (like laptop, camera, external hard drive etc) was under water, resting on a rock. Even with the weight of the bike resting on it, it didn't deform and let water in. Simply awesome.

I bought them from Caribou Cases. They came with HepcoBecker racks (junk). If you look in my signature there's a link to my bike build thread. In there is info on what I had to do to fix the racks.

The only thing that I might consider replacing the Pelicans with would be some soft bags but simply for the weight savings. The pannier racks and cases are likely 35lbs or so. A Giant Loop or Wolfman soft bags are tempting. I go back and forth on the hard cases/soft bags debate. BUT I'd never run any other hard cases



Jeremy, I'll be in touch
thanks Oso , ride on my brother
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:13 PM   #26
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After a couple days in Puerto Almirante, I was ready to hit Bocas del Toro. Despite much research, I couldn't nail down the ferry schedule. Water taxis run regularly but the ferry (needed for cars and bikes) only runs once a day and not everyday. Depending on who I talked to or what website I looked at, it ran everyday at 8am, Monday-Saturday at 8am, 9am, 10am or noon. Some said Wednesday to Saturday at 12pm.

I decided that since it was Monday there was a chance it was running today. 8am was the earliest I heard it ran so I figured if I was there at 8am, I should be good. I had no alarm and the hotel didn't do wakeup calls. If I was up in time to make the 8am ferry then I'd go, if not I'd re-evaluate then.

At 7:05am I was up and packed. I made my way down to the ferry terminal and saw that it was deserted. While I was waiting, a guy came and up and simply said "No ferry today" before walking away. I didn't know if there would be one Tuesday or not. I decided that I'd just push on to Costa Rica.

The ferry terminal was a ghost town.


The borders have been a huge hassle this trip, up to this one. The crossing was so laid back it was crazy. Everything was easy, no drama, no border rats trying to
'help me". The only issue with the whole thing was the bridge over the river that separates Panama from Costa Rica.

The old railway bridge was in terrible shape. There were boards missing everywhere. They had laid planks length wise over the railway ties to fill the gaps. The issue was some of the ties were broken or missing completely. The planks were in 2 lines and were laid 3 wide (2x10s) but they was a 5" gap between them, just enough for a bike tire slip through. The centre of the bridge was missing wood in several places so there was no opportunity to run the middle lane.

On top of the other hazards, there was a 18" horizontal gap between the deck of the bridge and the chainlink sides. If I lost my balance or wandered off the 2x10 and put my foot down for balance, there was a very good chance my foot would find nothing but air and the bike and I would topple over. Maybe we'd get caught up in the chainlink, maybe the bike would and I wouldn't or maybe we'd both plummet to the muddy river 200ft below. Maybe the bike would pinch me into the fence and snap my leg. I can't say I liked any option but making a clean run.

I was totally wigged out as I started the ride. Slow and steady, I made my way down the middle plank on the left side. Slow and steady…. honking at pedestrians, giving them lots of time to get out of my way. After a nerve racking minute, the 200yd run was complete. I had made it down the middle plank the whole length. Too bad I forgot to turn my helmet cam on. F%^K! I wasn't about to do it again just for video.

I really want to check out road I heard about on a peninsula on the Pacific coast. The problem is there's a National park and a mountain range between where I was and were I wanted to be. The map shows a red dotted line from one side of the park to other. Perfect, if it was ridable. Some of the red dotted lines (tracks according to the legend) are non-existent and sometimes they are paved. It's a gamble.

I loaded up on food and water for what should only be a 80km ride. The road starts paved, the turns to gravel, then to rock embedded dirt. It's pretty solid and well built but there are numerous creek crossings. 10km in, I had crossed over 20 streams, creeks or small rivers. I was riding through banana plantations (home of the famous Chiquita in fact). The roads cut into the crops were a nightmare to navigate. No intersections marked, all looked a like. I stopped several time to ask directions and every time was told that I couldn't ride the road through the park. There several large rivers that you need to cross several times to make it to the end. The rivers must be navigated by drifts (a smallish boat with a motor). Some of the drifts would be large enough for my bike but a few wouldn't be. Never being fond of others telling me whats possible and whats not, I decided to push on and see how far I could get before deadending.

As it turns out, not very far! After several 12-24" crossings, I ran smack dab into the a huge river. It was easily 150yds across, muddy and slow moving (meaning deep). I looked up and down both banks for the drift but there was no sign of it anywhere. Denied at the first real crossing.

Stopped at this point:


On the way back I took a wrong turn in the banana groves and ended up at a crossing that I hadn't done yet. I walked it first, it was only 18"or so but had a rough rocky bottom. I set up my camera video camera on the bank before easing into the water. 3/4 of the way through I hit a big rock and dumped the bike on the exhaust side. I managed to get it up while still running. Water blasted out the pipe like a hydrant. I walk it out the rest of the way. The oil looked good, the bike sounded good, no worries.

One of dozens of water crossings:


Another:


Several spots completely washed out:


I found my way back to the right route and out to civilization.

Relaxing in Puerto Viejo now.

For reference, that's a fullsize laptop next to my ScrewDriver

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Old 01-18-2011, 07:38 AM   #27
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Now that drink is my size Cory!

Ride on, ride safe

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Old 01-19-2011, 10:40 AM   #28
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:23 AM   #29
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Amazing pics to look at while sitting here in the F&^*ing snow!

My farkling continues - installed a Gear Indicator with ATRE yesterday so should help with the lean surging at <3000 rpm. My new rear Elka shock arrives next week so will get on that. Ordering Racetech springs and gold valves for front shocks next week also (even though I always swore never to do business with a company that has "tech" in their name!). I'll take the shocks off and get Redline to do this install since I have never done it before. I also installed new handlebars 2 weeks ago with less bend so my elbows don't get squished in to my freakishly huge body as much, so it's coming together. It will be nicer to ride when done...
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:29 AM   #30
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Great to read a ride report from somebody from here in Calgary. Really enjoying the report OSO.

Not to highjack the thread but what's your experience with Redline, SnowStrom? I've heard mixed reports.

Quote:
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Amazing pics to look at while sitting here in the F&^*ing snow!

My farkling continues - installed a Gear Indicator with ATRE yesterday so should help with the lean surging at <3000 rpm. My new rear Elka shock arrives next week so will get on that. Ordering Racetech springs and gold valves for front shocks next week also (even though I always swore never to do business with a company that has "tech" in their name!). I'll take the shocks off and get Redline to do this install since I have never done it before. I also installed new handlebars 2 weeks ago with less bend so my elbows don't get squished in to my freakishly huge body as much, so it's coming together. It will be nicer to ride when done...
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