It's all about the bike?

My first experiences in Costa Rica felt very foreign.  We were either driving through slums, dealing with people we had no way to communicate with or were being virtually fleeced by the tourist based infrastructure.  This was initially very negative for me.  This all changed when I got on the bike.  That slight change of the angle in which my perception was working and maybe in how others were seeing me had an almost magical effect.

This dude spoke zero English.

On the bike the roads were just roads.  The interactions with other people and cars fell into the same old universal system.  Things were good.  Through it I was able to see the country in a way that I certainly would not have otherwise.

This was my favorite ride, it took place last Friday.

Half an hour of steady climbing on pavement to the turn-off for the south side of lake Arenal and onto the gravel.  Blew right past the arenal 1968 'singletrack', was headed for something better.

At about the 45 minute mark saw the waiter from the Observatory Lodge  who had seen my campagnolo hat and our loaded rental bikes then given advice about where to ride.  I think he was excited that we were out on a 12 hour self-powered tour of the area given what most tourists are up to there!  One of the more interesting things he told us about was the vuelta al lago arenal.  I wish I hadn't missed it.  By the time that conversation cycled through my mind I was another 5 miles up the road crossing a single lane bridge looking down on this...

Wound my way through a construction zone consisting of about 4 dudes with power tools and one backhoe, no signage.  At this point I was on the route of the Vuelta al Lago Arenal.

Ran into this friendly girl, who happened to be going the same direction for a while...

Scared up a couple of huge green lizards and heard something that sounded massive in the trees but don't have a clue what.  After about 90 minutes total I was in El Castille, a small town of maybe 150-200 that looked a lot like this, but with a dirt road.  The picture is from a different town we had stopped in Thursday.

Past the dirt jumps on the outskirts of town...  Yes,  dirt jumps in a town of less than 200.

After El Castille I didn't see anyone other than one boy on a small horse for about 2.5 hours.

Crossed the ominous (because of the bones) river, then crossed 3 more.

Still on the Vuelta route to here


and finally this kind of stuff and into the hills

Where eventually I was stymied by the 26" quasi-cruiser tires on the rental bike and horse footholed mud.  Not before I saw my second Toucan of the trip and a few dozen monkeys.  On that note I had expected to see many more monkeys everywhere, but we had to look hard most of the trip to find any.

Headed back out and completed the observatory climb and rode around in there for a bit.

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