Heredia -> Tuetal Norte -> Sarchi -> Venica (via valle bajo del torro amarillo) -> Los Chiles -> Cano Negro (by boat) -> San Rafael de Guatuso -> La Fortuna de Arenal -> Vera Cruz
399 km and approximately 2,400 meters of elevation gain by bike
We had a couple of major goals for this trip. The road between Poas volcano and Platanar peak, north of Sarchi, looked like a perfect challenge to test our belief that we had gotten in shape over the summer and we wanted to visit Cano Negro National wildlife refuge.
Our last bike tour on our 1999 trip
We had ridden part way up the Valle Bajo de Toro Amarillo (valley of the yellow bull) from the north side on our 1993 tour and wanted to see the whole area. We decided to ride over the mountains on the new road from Sarchi to bajo de toro.
We took an easy day from Heredia to Tuetal Norte where we know some people that run a bed and breakfast.
It was another short day to Sarchi where the road started up in earnest. The map showed that we would have to climb over 1000 meters from Sarchi before cruising down through the valley (it looked the same as it did for the road between Ciudad Neily and San Vito and we took a bus on that road), but the psychological challenge would prove tougher than the physical.
Sue had her doubts about 5 km outside of Sarchi, then set her teeth and I spent the rest of the climb trying to keep up. After about an hour and a half I was starting to fade, when a group of bike racers in training started passing one by one, and my resolve faded as each went by.
I tried to tell myself they were going by so fast because we were carrying 30 or 40 pounds of gear. I was relieved when I saw the racers ahead cheering us as they pulled on their jackets for the ride down. Sue commented that it was the first time we had gotten a standing ovation for reaching a summit.
It turned out to be easier than either of us expected and the racers turned out to be team Pizza Hut (the elite of Costa Rica), which made me feel a little better. At the crest the weather changed from bright sunshine to drizzle, which turned into a downpour as we descended.
We reached Aguas Zarcas and the hotel earlier than we had planned and hired a taxi to the Toro II hydroelectric plant where the workers invited us in and gave us an impromptu tour.