Day 9 – March 25
Mountain bike – 36.8 km (22.4 miles), 618 meters (2,028 ft) elevation gain.
We had to ride a short segment of the Pan American because you can’t cross Costa Rica without crossing it. Riding on Highway 1 is a scary proposition but we went early in the morning and only had to cover a few km.
Riding back roads in Costa Rica often means you’re using agriculture access roads. The only reason for a road is to get equipment into the fields and crops out of the fields.
We started out in pineapple, passed through sugar cane and finished of with coffee.
The route was a mix of pavement, dirt, round rock road and a few fun segments of single track. I was really impressed with Javier’s route finding. Looking at the road map we publish you would have no idea that it was possible to cross from Buenos Aires to La Gran Vista outside San Isidro El General without mainly using the Pan American Highway.
In fact if you’re in a car or even a very capable 4WD there is no way because there are no road connections between the side roads. There are however trails.
Most side roads in Costa Rica follow a river or stream up a valley and eventually dead end at a small community or the ranch or plantation at the head of the valley. The head of the next valley over may only be five kilometers away but to get there you have to drive 20 km back to the mouth of the valley you’re in, cross over five kilometers on the highway then drive 20 km up the next valley over.
On foot or on mountain bikes you can probably find a trail and possibly even a pedestrian bridge across the rivers in the valley bottoms. Javier had spent a few days driving up and down valleys locating these little connections before he picked us up.
One More Big Hill
When we stopped at a little pizza place near Cajón I think we ordered about six large pies and they looked at us like when is the tour bus arriving?
That afternoon we had one last challenge.
I think Justin was ready to kill when he saw the back side of the coastal mountain range that we still had to climb over to reach the ocean and everyone but Chris (I think you ground it out to the top didn’t you Chris?) had to get off and walk their bikes along the way to the top.
La Gran Vista has simple accommodations with foam mattresses on simple wooden bunk platforms and shared bathrooms but it may as well have been the Ritz as well as I slept.
Photo Gallery Day 9 – Cordoncillo to La Gran Vista
Each of the images below is linked to a larger version with a detailed description