Monday, June 17, 2013

The Path Less Traveled By

I've had some minor health problems and major laziness that has kept me from doing more than local, short rides. Looking at maps always gives me the itch and I have the bad habit of seeing bike routes everywhere I look. So I did try to put together a 3 day trip that didn't  work as planned. You may still enjoy hearing about it.

When Marcia wanted to go to the Caribbean Coast with a bunch of Gringos, I saw it as an opportunity to do a little 3 day tour. I planned a loop from home to La Fortuna, a ride around Lake Arenal, and then a return via a different road to complete the loop.

I have driven most of these roads and thought I had a good feel for what I was facing. The first leg would be mostly downhill and measure about 80 km. The second leg, the lake loop, would be longer. I had missed one turn on my pre-flight drive and knew that the south shore road was unpaved, but I figured it wouldn't be a problem. My memory was that it was a fairly flat road. The return leg would be very scenic and would pass through a cloud forest. There would be significant climbing involved.

As the date approached, I started having second thoughts. I considered that I would be able to bail and hop a bus if the climb was too hard. But in the end I opted to drive to La Fortuna to bike the lake and then do a second day through some of the local towns.

It's a good thing I did. The day of my lake loop turned into a 21 mile out and back with 1250 ft of climbing and I didn't even make it to the lake. My memory of flat roads was way off. While not in the mountains, it seems like the road is constantly climbing and descending at some pretty challenging grades.

The next day I decided to drive the loop and check it out with my GPS. By the time I got to the end of the pavement on the south shore, had climbed 4732 ft and was only at an elevation of 1843 ft. The road wasn't bad, but got progressively worse until I needed my 4-wheel drive.

I reached a spot where I turned off the unpaved road onto an even worse trail and faced a wooden bridge and a decision. I held my breath and pressed on. Fortunately, that was the only one. All of the other water crossings didn't have bridges. There were 6 or 7 water crossings and I was glad it was the end of the dry season. The widest, deepest one was about knee deep. I didn't see another vehicle. I wonder why.

It would have been impossible for me to ride my bike on this “road” and even a mountain biker would have been walking parts of it. The loop measured 140 km, not a great distance. It involved 7583 ft of climbing.  


1 comment:

  1. sorry to hear about the health problems. the ride looked like it would have been fun, put it sounds like it was a good ideal to drive it first.