Coming up:

 IGSD Conference,
The Netherlands,
15-17 June 2017.

 

 Walking with McArdle's course,
 North Wales,
 2-9 August 2017.

 

 AGSD-UK Annual Conference,
Nottingham,
28-29 October 2017.

 

Costa Rica Bike Challenge

Diary of a Costa Rica Rider - 3rd to 12th March 2006

Friday 3 March

All met eventually at Heathrow by 6am, Rob Boyle left it till the last minute, just to test my nerves.

Plane to Madrid delayed by over 1 hour, causing concern for our connection. San Jose plane also delayed. Problem on the plane - no vegetarian meal for Jayesh.

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Arrived in San Jose and met by our guide for the week, Claude. Transferred by minibus to Hotel Suerre in Guapiles.

Saturday 4 March

Early rise despite no sleep yesterday.

Found hotel to be well equipped with Olympic swimming pool, pool tables, indoor tennis, table tennis, Astroturf 5-a-side.

Food not bad, buffet meals - fresh fruit, deep fried banana, squewered rodent etc.

Bikes arrived, all Cannondale M800, front suspension. After fitting had a quick 18km trip through Guappiles and its environs. Caroline had a puncture.

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Swam a couple of lengths and swallowed a mouthful, quickly followed by a Mexican beer and then a local beer (Imperial) just to kill off any remaining bugs.

Buffet lunch followed by walk into town. Tyrone decided that we should have a beer in a scruffy café that didn't sell alcohol. Chicken seller was happy to oblige, however. Rained quite a bit this afternoon, no sign of any let-up just yet (6pm).

Sunday 5 March

First day of the challenge. Started well but soon came to off-road section. This was to be the road style for most of the day. Abundance of potholes in roads like dried-up river beds

This was not Chris Johnson's day, he fell just before a rickety bridge and sustained a nasty cut to his cheek and, after an x-ray in the evening, a broken wrist bone. He won't be riding any more this week, sadly. Jayesh threw his chain and got a nasty leg wound in the process. He’ll be ok.

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Arrived eventually at a little ornithologist's paradise, with a cold-water jaccuzi - lovely. Food was mediocre again, but beautiful surroundings make up for it.

Everyone was exhausted and we all had lights out by 9pm! Apparently we had torrential rain overnight, but I slept through...

Monday 6 March

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Mostly on road today, rose to 548m according to Rob's Garmin GPS device, 700m according to the itinerary.

Lots of very long inclines exhausted everyone after a long morning in the saddle. Eagles and vultures soaring above, waiting for some AGSD road kill.

Lewis did well in the yellow T-shirt, kept a strong pace going all day. Rosie kept up with the front boys for while after lunch - yellow T-shirt tomorrow perhaps?

Staying in very nice resort motel - must go for a swim before the light fails.

Tuesday 7 March

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Left paradise for the iguana bridge. Then returned the same way because a footbridge was destroyed - one child and one adult killed apparently.

Long hard morning rising high to spa hotel under Arenal volcano. Spent 2 hours enjoying waters at 35 deg C, and an excellent lunch. More undulations and an off-road section brought us to the huts with fine views of the lake and volcano. After dark saw several small lava-flows and one sustained eruption from a side vent of the volcano.

Yellow T-shirt to Caroline for a good sustained effort today; and to brighten up her black outfit.

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Wednesday 8 March

Gloomy start to the day soon turned into perfect cycling weather. Cycled down to the lake and spent a hard day following the lakeside road. Dave had a fall on the gravel track and sustained some nasty grazing to his arm and leg.

Rosie had a rest day; Caroline wore the yellow shirt to breakfast but changed into Tyrone's long-sleeved white number for the cycling.

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Met many White-nosed Caote in the first section. Roger snapped a porcupine in a tree.

Stopped at Toad Hall restaurant and gallery (gift shop). Dogs very friendly and one followed us for over 5km afterwards. Most of us were almost bitten by another bike-chasing hound.

Lunch was Swiss/German vegetarian which most of us enjoyed. Guavabanana drink was delicious.

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Scenery was beautiful, with lake and Volcano in the background. Sun was hot most of the day.

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A very hard day riding for everyone, some very steep ascents, particularly when very tired; Jon was walking the hills as fast as I could cycle them!

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Basic motel accommodation in Tilaran, but ate in local restaurant with very friendly waiter. Gave us the local recipe for Gallo Pinto (Black beans, lissano sauce, onions, sweet pepper, and garlic) that seemed to accompany breakfast, lunch and dinner.waiter.jpg

Thursday 9 March

After a windy night had breakfast in café with friendly waiter from previous night.

Boarded coach (missing out a 20km section in order to arrive at destination before dark) for 2hr coach ride to Pan-American Highway. Turned off onto lane for start of ride at Esparza.

Weather had changed to blue skies and very hot. Scenery varied greatly from green to arid brown.

Lunched at El Crocodilo where crocodiles basked beneath a road bridge. Quite boring to watch really, the wading birds were much more interesting.

Rode up many demanding hills with the most demanding being the last. I've never put my body through anything quite so tough for such a sustained period. The heat was intense, the climbs were steep as we crossed deep gorges and our bodies were weary.

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Regrouped 3km before the finish line and cycled into the resort town, Jaco, together.

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Friday 10 March 2006

Visited rain-forest canopy in cable tram. Saw toucan, white hawk, and a few butterflies, but trees were the most abundant wildlife. canopy.jpg

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Returned to Jaco for gift shopping and lunch. Walked back along the beach to the resort hotel. Spent afternoon drinking beer and dipping into the Pacific, very strong under-current but not the surf I'd expected.

After a little out-of-tune karaoke from Rob Boyle we had our Celebration dinner in the hotel restaurant. Waiters got upset when Tyrone handed their sombreros around for us to wear and a loud American guest got very upset (and louder) when Claude told him to Shhhh during our speeches.

Well, Brian thanked Claude and I made a speech including everyone – seemed to go down quite well. Chris B. recited a very rude poem, which I can’t remember.

Saturday 11 March

Flight home delayed. Just managed to make the connection at Madrid, but our suitcases didn’t. They will be delivered tomorrow, we hope.

That is the end of a great week. It was tough cycling, especially in the heat, but the riders were excellent company and when it came to goodbyes everyone was talking of the next ride; where should it be? Who will organize it? Any volunteers?

Allan

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