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Old 09-12-2012, 11:13 AM   #1
poolman OP
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Costa Rica Solo - Earthquakes, Beaches, Monkeys and Crocodiles

Last year, to celebrate milestone birthdays, my friend Culin and I were fortunate enough to ride dirt bikes through the Peruvian Andes and Amazon jungle, ultimately reaching Machu Picchu. The trip surpassed our expectations:

Sacred Valley of the Incas

The logistics seemed to work well for us and we decided to make it an annual event... pick an interesting spot on the globe, fly in with minimal gear, rent appropriate bikes for the terrain, ride an adrenaline-filled adventure, and then fly back home to our amazingly supportive wives & kids. This year it was my friend's turn to choose our destination and he selected Costa Rica.

The paradigm shifted when my friend had to cancel and I decided to go solo...















More to follow...
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poolman screwed with this post 09-19-2012 at 01:42 PM
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:41 AM   #2
Ryder Patrol
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Subscribed. I am sure you will have an amazing ride. I did a similar trip last year and can't wait to go back.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:45 PM   #3
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Poolman,
I am considering Costa Rica and renting from Wild Rider this winter. I have heard good things about that rental outfit....what was your impression?

Thanks....
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:08 PM   #4
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Subscribed. I am sure you will have an amazing ride. I did a similar trip last year and can't wait to go back.
Thanks Ryder Patrol. The ride actually took place in March/April and I'm a little late with the ride report.
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Costa Rica Solo
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by motoged View Post
Poolman,
I am considering Costa Rica and renting from Wild Rider this winter. I have heard good things about that rental outfit....what was your impression?

Thanks....
Motoged,

The team at Wild Rider are extremely helpful and nice to deal with, but I did have some "inventory" issues to contend with that will come out in the next installment. I sent you a PM with details.

You will love Costa Rica!

.
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Old 09-13-2012, 12:42 PM   #6
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San Jose to La Fortuna

This was to be a relatively inexpensive endeavor; roundtrip airfare between DC and San Jose was listed at only $414.00 but I was able to pay with Amex points. Motorcycle rentals in Costa Rica are also very reasonable, and I had already bought all the gear I needed in preparation for Peru last year. Apart from booking the bike rental I had no reservations and no itinerary.

My destination:




I bought a waterproof map of Costa Rica from Amazon.com and opened it on the plane, circling a few spots that seemed familiar from several great ride reports on this site (thanks EvilClown, Whizzerwheel and Swamp).

My flight from DCA to Jan Jose was smooth and direct. The terrain looked amazing as we made our final approach:


My Giant Loop Coyote and camelback carried everything I needed (I would be wearing the contents of the gear bag):


I've heard zip lines are BIG in Costa Rica:


San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport is clean and modern, and my taxi driver was fluent in five languages:


A number of people seemed pleased with Wild Rider Moto Rentals, and the proprietor Thorsten seemed a very nice guy to work with. Their rates were extremely reasonable (here is a link):

http://www.wild-rider.com/motorcycle-rental-rates/

Their shop was only 15 minutes from the airport:



Given that I was solo, inseam-challenged, and hoping to ride as much technical dirt as possible, I reserved a little Honda XR250 Tornado. However, when I arrived at Wild Rider on my reservation date the ONLY motorcycle to be found was a beater DRZ400 that their technician had stripped down and was frantically trying to sort. Thorsten explained that the 250 was "unavailable" and I would receive a free "upgrade" to the bigger (and much taller) bike. Not a major problem, I only planned to touch the ground when stopped.

They say adventure begins where the planning leaves off. The decision to book the little XR250 was the only real planning I'd done, so the adventure officially commenced before I even had a chance to twist the throttle.

I filled my camelback with water, had some chicken and rice at a soda (small local cafe), and when the bike was deemed roadworthy I strapped on my Giant Loop Coyote, mounted my GPS (which I'd loaded the night before with rather questionable Costa Rica maps) and hit the road. I noticed the bike was well broken in with 63,000 KM (39,000 miles) on the clock, IF the odometer was original).









I decided to avoid main roads and loop around the east side of the Poas Volcano National Park and try to find accommodation in La Fortuna before dark. Costa Rica is near the equator, so sunrise and sunset occur very close to 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM respectively year-round.

My route for the afternoon:


Traffic leaving San Jose was relatively light:


Look, only 63,000 KM (39,000 miles) on the odometer:


The scenery was amazing as I passed through La Paz, and while sightseeing I made a wrong turn in Zarcas which brought me into Quesada. The front wheel was more oval than round, and the bike would start to hop on tarmac at about 70 KM per hour. The rear disk brake was also making a disconcerting scraping sound.












With the sun setting and only 40 KM remaining to reach La Fortuna, I was hopping along a nice dirt road at around 80 KM per hour when the rear wheel locked up. As I skidded harmlessly down the dirt road I was counting my blessings that this didn't happen earlier when I was in traffic on the highway!

I think the continuous scraping of new rear brake pads against the rotor had heated the brake fluid and caused the caliper to lock up in a death grip. I retrieved my tool set and tried to pry the caliper open, but to no avail. I opened the brake fluid bleeder valve and pried away until finally the caliper relinquished its grip. By the time the bike was sorted and repacked it was pitch dark. Why is it that whenever I decide I will not ride after dark in a foreign country I end up doing it?






I was afraid the rear brake would lock up again if I touched it, so I limped through La Fortuna using the front brake only and found a room at the Hotel Los Lagos at the base of the Arenal Volcano. The rainforest landscape was beautiful, and they served nice local Tilapia for dinner.













After dinner I worked on the sticky caliper, adjusted the spokes until the front wheel was semi-round, and cleaned the spark plug. A thunder storm moved in as I drifted off to sleep.


More to follow...
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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I love this place very much. One day I will do something similar.
Very friendly and cheerful people. Pura vida!
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:13 PM   #8
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This sounds awesome man.... I'd be a little pissed about the bike being such a pos but hey man, a bad day in costa rica sure beats ANY day at work!
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freefallen View Post
I love this place very much. One day I will do something similar.
Very friendly and cheerful people. Pura vida!
Pura Vida indeed! Costa Rica is a great place to ride and is home to some of the nicest, friendliest people I've ever met. Even the bulls & dogs were nice, I wasn't chased even once!

Cheers,
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMC1 View Post
a bad day in costa rica sure beats ANY day at work!
Hi KMC1,

That was how I looked at it, day one was a GREAT day of riding but NOT SO GREAT for fixing.

Thanks for your post,


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Old 09-15-2012, 04:49 PM   #11
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Circumnavigation of Lake Arenal

I awoke to more rain and a low cloud ceiling. One of the hotel workers told me of an observation point with a great view of the Arenal Volcano, which has been one of the world's most active volcanoes over the past decade. I geared up and went for a ride.

This hotel is VERY close to the volcano:


My bike and my abode:




I followed a nicely paved two-track lane that turned to mud and rocks as it ascended the steep mountain to the observatory:









I was hoping to see the Arenal Volcano in all its glory (photo from Wikepedia.com):



But the view today was a bit underwhelming:


There was a nice 3 KM hiking trail that circumnavigated a small lake at the base of the volcano, and wildlife was abundant:








I had never seen such colorful frogs:








I had breakfast and decided to stay another night in the hope of viewing the volcano in clearer weather. Today I would make a full lap around Lake Arenal with a side trip to Monte Verde. At 85 square-kilometers Arenal is Costa Rica's largest lake and its hydroelectric dam produces approximately 20 per cent of the country's electricity.

My route for the day:








The sun peeked through as I approached the east side of the lake, almost as if entering a different micro-climate:




It poured once again as I returned to the western side of the lake and rode the hilly terrain to Monte Verde, and continued raining all the way through La Fortuna:










The open crypts were a little disturbing (note the flowers):





I returned to Los Lagos and toured the grounds:

Butterfly exhibit:




Hummingbirds:


Crocodiles:


And poisonous frogs!!! The colorful little frogs I saw on my hike were poisonous dart frogs!!!


A couple I met at the hotel the evening before insisted I accompany them to dinner in town at the La Coza de Laurel. I accepted their invitation and we were also joined by their daughter (US citizen studying in Costa Rica) and her fiancé (native Tico) whom they were meeting for the first time. Great people and great grilled chicken, chorizo, and carne asada for dinner. Fortunately they were quite pleased with their prospective son in law, and we grabbed a couple drinks afterwards at the Lava Lounge to celebrate.

More to follow...
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Old 09-15-2012, 07:43 PM   #12
AteamNM
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Looks to be a great RR. Can you reduce the size of your photos? Really big pictures and I see your a very good photographer. Keep it coming.
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Old 09-15-2012, 08:15 PM   #13
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can you throw in some idea pricing as you travel around, i'll be there in november...liking the look of your route so far
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:09 AM   #14
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Looks to be a great RR. Can you reduce the size of your photos? Really big pictures and I see your a very good photographer. Keep it coming.
Hi AteamNM,

Glad you are enjoying the RR and pics. Good point about the file size; just resized all of the images down to 1024 pixels wide and fortunately all of the links still work.

Ride Safe,
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:45 AM   #15
Reaver
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Thumb Bike rental in Costa Rica

Hey! Not trying to hijack but a quick word on my experience. The GF and I went in 2010 and signed up with Costa Rican Trails on a custom motorcycling tour. (Great bunch, recommended) They provided two bikes, sort of. A third party supplied the bikes. First two days, none available (provided a taxi and driver to cater our whims). Got a call that only one Aprillia was available but would provide a BMW if we agreed. Great. I received a brand new F650 GS twin and she got the 650 single Aprilia. Well, we made it less than 3 kms and she refused to ride it any further, stalled everytime you pulled the clutch etc. etc. The company then arranged another BMW from the BMW Dealership. Well it was a big R1200GS so she had to ride the new 650. The new bike ran like new. My 1200 had a severely bent front rim, no rear brakes, headlight out etc.

To sum it up, crappy bikes poorly maintained are the norm in that part of the world. Expect it. It's in how they deal with you that makes a good rental company. Spending more money doesn't mean a better bike necessarily (expensive crap beemer). I never let on to my gf that mine was a pos, I just dealt with it. We had a great two week tour and will do it again. Lost a half day in the process but yes, we weren't stuck in the office.
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