Costa Moto - Part I
Every winter a few of us try and beat the snow and cold with a week or so of warm weather and motorcycle riding. This year our destination was Costa Rica. We chose Costa Rica largely because of an excellent bike rental company Wild Riders who make it easy for a large group to rent bikes, which we've found in the past is not always the easiest thing to find in Central America. That and the fact that there is lots of amazing beaches, roads, wild life and places to stay that don't hurt either. This blog post covers the first couple of days of our ride to where we were staying in the Osa Peninsula.
We flew into San Jose in the evening stayed at a hostel around the corner from Wild Riders, Aldea Hostel which made for an easy walk to pick up the bikes the next morning.
It took a couple of hours to get the bikes checked out, sign all the necessary paperwork and load up our gear. The crew at Wild Riders were awesome - super helpful matching our heights and weights to bikes that would work best - outfitting our smallest riders, Marika & Alex (both ladies around 5'1 feet tall) with a 150CC bike (pictured above, top right) and a Honda XR250 Tornado. They went over road rules in Costa Rica (including laws about wearing reflective gear - and provided our group with reflective sashes). They also emphasized how expensive speeding fines were in the country, a run down on the legality of lane splitting, and went over how to reach them if we ran into problems. They also looked over our route with us and pointed out some other roads we may be interested in checking out on our first day. For more info on the rest of the bikes we were riding and some of the gear we brought along check out the blog post we put up before the trip.
So our plan was to take two days riding the Carr Interamericana 2 on our way out of San Jose to get to our destination in the Osa Peninsula and two days back at the end of the trip back into San Jose on the Coastal highway (Carr Pacifica 34) to try to see some different scenery. Both tracked about 350kms. This didn't seem far by Canadian standards at all, but two days was the amount of time recommended to us based on the roads that we would be taking and the amount of daylight we had to work with. In the end, with gas ups, snack breaks and stops to admire the views, two days was a great amount of time for the route.
Leaving San Jose was hot, hectic and traffic-y but we made it out without incident and only one of the air-cooled bikes complaining about it much.
Once out of the city limits we started climbing up into the mountains where the roads got twistier and the temperature dropped making it a lot more comfortable and fun to ride. Carr Interamericana 2 takes you high up into the mountains between San Jose and the Pacific. The views as you drive along are incredible; mountain vistas overlooking what felt like all of Costa Rica paired with views of nothing but clouds the higher we got.
The photo above is a brief roadside stop we took near what felt like the highest altitude we were riding at. There was a little cafe overlooking a sheer drop which fell into the clouds. A really great scenic place to take a break and throw on an extra layer to stay warm. From here on the roads started descending back towards the coast.
The forecast had been calling for rain but we were lucky to mostly avoid it on our ride. The combination of the cool air higher up and the warm air near the bottom caused the middle of our descent to be a foggy ride which was pretty cool to ride through. We were headed towards San Isidro which would take us towards the coast on the 243. After a quick stop for gas and some food we were back on our way.
Because of the different fuel tank capacities between the different bikes we tended to fuel up a bit more than necessary. The smallest tank (Marika's 150) held 100km while the larger NX4 tanks held closer to 200km. Regardless there seemed to be no shortage of places to fuel up along any of the roads we took.
Our day 1 destination was Uvita where we had some rooms booked at an open concept tree-house-vibe hostel called Casa Verde. Leaving San Jose after 12pm coupled with slower speeds due to the non-stop twisty roads and some breaks to check out the scenery got us into our hostel around 6:00pm. Despite how early it was the sun sets at 5:30 in Costa Rica at this time of year and so we arrived in the dark.
We got up at 6:30am on our second day for a quick swim in the Casa Verde waterfall before getting on our bikes. It was totally worth the early rise & a great start to Day 2.
The route from Uvita to Tres Palmas was about the same distance as the day before but followed Highway 34 south for a bit before turning into the 2. This afforded us quicker arrival times due to the straighter roads and faster speed limits. Despite following coastal roads, ocean views were sparse, but lacked in ocean views made up with great scenery of the country side, palm tree plantations and the occasional mind blow of seeing squished iguana or sloth on the side of the road.
At Charcarita we hung a right onto the 245. From there it was fairly twisty with elevation climbs for about 50km. A really fun road to ride on! The hills we climbed here weren't nearly as high as the mountains climbs from day 1 but you still got some pretty great views of the country side way down below or of the bay of Osa Peninsula.
At that point the 245 and all of the other roads we'd been riding on were mostly paved with the occasional small gravel sections here and there. The paved roads continued up until Puerto Jimenez which was our last planned stop to get gas and groceries before riding the last leg to the house we had rented which would be home base for the next 6 days.
The roads between Puerto Jimenez and our house varied between packed clay, loose gravel, some really rubbly hills and a couple of small river crossings. The last leg being the worst closer to remote location of the house and further from the city where the road started going back up into the hills.
The most challenging riding of the whole day ended up being the ride down to our house which was a series of steep downhills comprised of super soft gravel and rocks. Certainly made you feel like your earned your cerveza and dip in the pool by the time everyone had made it down.
We'll have two more blog posts on our trip to Costa Rica so check back to see how the rest of our trip went!