…or How I Learned to Curse Round Rock Roads
There must be a gravel shortage in Costa Rica. To make gravel, large rocks are normally crushed into fairly uniform pieces somewhere between the size of a grape and a golf ball then filtered through a screen to eliminate any softball, bowling ball or bathtub size pieces remaining.
A layer of gravel helps prevent the deterioration of the road surface because the small stones interlock and are more difficult to move around than sand or mud. Roads that are cut through clay, compacted volcanic ash or sand are prone to being reshaped from smooth surfaces into cratered mud bogs under the influences of water and passing vehicles so adding gravel is a good idea.
Unfortunately when you skip the intermediate steps of gravel production (which require expensive machinery), scoop rocks out of a riverbed and just dump them on the road you get what I’ve come to refer to (perhaps I should say curse vehemently) as a Round Rock Road.
River rocks vary from pebbles to the size of a small pig, and form a roadbed that feels like a reject from a speed bump factory. The large rocks embed in the dirt and smaller rocks with about 1/3 of their diameter protruding above the surface. For each yard of forward progress there are a few 3” high bumps to climb.
I was lying in a hammock one evening after a 30 mile ride over a round rock road feeling like I’d spent the day in an industrial size washing machine. While trying to relax the cramps out of my shoulders and stop my legs from shaking I started doing a little math in my head.
Thirty miles times 5,280 feet, divided by 3 feet per yard is 52,800 yards. Two or three round rocks per yard… just say two and a half… makes 132,000 round rocks ridden over. Each one was two and a half, three inches tall so that would be about 350,000 inches climbed. 350,000 inches divided by 12 inches per foot is 29,166 feet…
Mount Everest is 29,035 feet tall.
We’d ridden over tens of thousands of little tiny round rock hills that added up to more than climbing Mount Everest, starting from sea level, and we’d lost the same amount of elevation. Up Everest and back in a single day, no wonder my legs were tired.