Sunday, 21 February 2016

Why do we do it?

We had a microwave in our room in Upala so treated ourselves to some hot porridge with sliced banana for brekkie. Yummo!

It was a lovely ride to San Rafael de Guatuso. Gentle hills, pleasant greenery and not too much traffic. Mind you when it came it was either very close, very big or both (this one is giving kate a very wide berth)

We dodged a few rain showers (that'll explain the greenery), one at a supermarket and the other in a bus stop (all class us). We'd covered our 43km easily and even had a little picnic on the way

Me having fun

We checked into a place and haggled some breakfast into the deal. She also let us use her little kitchen to make dinner. Mind you, boiling spaghetti in an electric frying pan was a first...

Why then, what with all this blissful ease would we decide to turn off this nice, rolling, easy road to La Fortuna and choose instead 21km of dirt road heading south over a mountain range followed by what looks to be a very wiggly (read steep up & down) Tarmac one? Why? Hmm, good question...

It started off ok, our all inclusive rice n beans, egg and fried plantain certainly was, if nothing else, good fuel for the road ahead.

The scenery was definitely getting better

Don't get excited, that's actually a picture on our hotel room wall added purely for hilarious comedy value

Here is the river for real

And the start of the road 

The scenery improved more as the climbing started. It really reminded me of parts of Australia where I'd ridden my motorbike. Did someone mention riding a motorbike? Oh that would just be so silly. Imagine it, an engine, a comfy seat, the open road....

The road surface at first was ok, just bumpy to ride on with our not particularly 'fit for purpose' bikes. When it got a bit much we just pushed

We had some cloud around to keep the temperature down to about mid eighties (27 for the youngsters reading) but it was really humid and we were sweating buckets. Luckily there was a little shop in one of the villages where we guzzled down some cold, sugary pop. 

More climbing, the surface was now beginning to break up making the riding much harder. Our rear wheels keep spinning and the skinny front tyres were digging in, pulling the handlebars all over the place. We tried pushing but with the big arse panniers in the way you end up pushing the bike with it tilted over a bit. The front wheel then just kept slipping sideways. I have to say, we're beginning to get a bit tired of all this caper....

At one point on a particularly steep, rough bit some young lads bombed down passed us on mountain bikes. They looked like they were having fun and I tried to remind myself that I was supposed to be as well!

Still, there was the view to keep us happy (?). Not really, we both had to concentrate on the riding too much to look up and when we stopped for a breather it was all about trying to see how much further until the bloody top. 

Still, these 2 little kids coming the other way on a horse perked us up but it was all wearing a bit thin. Looking back on it now I'd say we had a good day but at the time, I in particular, was getting a bit ratty.

We were getting hungry. We had lunch with us (same as yesterday, tin of spicy tuna, a tomato and some tortillas) but there was nowhere to sit to eat it. We'd both already had our arses bitten off by ants when we sat down in the verge for a drink.

Eventually, after 17km and about 4 hours we made it to the top. Now we had 4km of downhill to go. The view of the lake was nice but neither of us were particularly interested, we just wanted to get down to the town of Nuovo Arenal and get something more than a seriously bruised banana and half a melted Snickers to eat. 

Parts of the descent were bloody steep. The surface was now bumpy, loose cinder & gravel. It was a tricky balancing act to brake enough to keep the speed under control but not lock the front wheel up, skid and fall off. Chuck in a few over zealous, barking 'guard' dogs  that ran out of the driveways of the big posh houses and it was all getting a bit much.

But, as always we made it. We had our little picnic on the grass outside the church and then used their outside tap to wash our faces in (holy?) water.

We cruised a couple of hotels. One was cheap ($12) but pretty shabby so we opted for the $30 option up the road. We've got 2 beds, a snoozing Kate, a freezing cold shower and a bike parking facility! 

The view's nice as well (lake view, only the best for us), the pool's empty by the way...

Tomorrow we'll ride East along the northern edge of Lake Arenal to the touristy town of La Fortuna. Did you know that we're not Gringos? We thought that the word was used for all Whities. It seems that Gringos are American and we are Euros. The Gringo seems to be quite low on the respect pecking order as judged by the locals here. They are tourist wally's only good for one thing - handing out cash. The lady at our guesthouse last night looked at us and told us we definitely weren't Gringos. That made us happy but maybe she was just saying we were tight!

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