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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Practicality or Leisure?

Costa Ricans (Ticos if they are boys, Ticas if they are girls) ride their bikes.

I imagine that's true in most 3rd world countries. Many of the roads are dirt and rutted, and passable by car only in the dry season. The roads that are in better shape are often paved with potholes. Gas is expensive. The only reliable car is fairly serious 4-wheel drive machine. Not an SUV toy with leather upholstery and flat screen TV.

So most Ticos and Ticas ride their mountain bikes as a practicality. To get to work or school. To visit friends. To deliver fresh baked bread or refreshingly cold 'fruitas'. You see beat up old cruisers. Trick BMX bikes. Work bikes with the wagon load up front. You see pretty decent mountain bikes, too.

But it is really a sight to see a sweaty, bare chested, farmer riding his mountain bike down a dusty jungle path with his two-foot long machete slapping against his thigh with every pedal stroke.

Maybe the heat is getting to me.

But what I haven't seen are any fat kids.

Anyway these observations have led me to wonder when does mountain biking become a leisure activity?

Is it simply a function of economics?

Would Ticos 'enjoy' buying an SUV (a recent ad in the Tico Times touted a 10 year old Suzuki Something for $7,000 dollars US), more than they would enjoy riding their bike?

Do Ticos 'enjoy' paying $3 a gallon for gas? The average annual income here is less than $5,000.

Is it really that much more fun getting your SUV stuck in the mud at a river crossing and waiting for a tractor to pull you out, than it is to splonk right on through on your bike?

I'm not so sure.

It may seem like more fun to use a car, to honk you horn and rip on past, but you can't hear the birds. You don't see the monkeys. You can't smell the breath of the living jungle, which surrounds you. After a while I think we realize that we have been missing something that only a bike ride can provide.

So now I'm not so sure which is the 1st and which is the 3rd world country? The US or Costa Rica?

Who's really enjoying their bikes?


Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting. Always nice to hear about bike culture in other countries....and those last two statements definately beg some thought....

10:22 AM  
gwadzilla said...

are you taking any pictures in costa rica?
can you post images on your blog?

8:20 PM  

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