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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Rare and Elusive Costa Rican Singletrack

Been hanging out with a local pro mountain biker down here in Costa Rica.

"Rom" has lived here all his life, save the first year or two. Here on the southern tip of the Nicoya Penisula in Pachote, a tiny village alongside the estuary that feeds into the Bahia de Ballera.

At this year's La Ruta, Rom placed 12th. I easily spotted him at last year's race. There aren't too many 6 foot blond haired Ticos. Rom has just started getting into race promotion in the area, and he has one coming up this weekend where he's trying to attract the big racing teams and maybe some foreigners.

For the past few weeks, Rom has been showing me all the cool places to ride, all the while coaching me on the various trees and critters along the way. Waterfalls, secluded beaches, deep and dark primary forests, views from the top of peaks that rival any in the Bay Area.

But only accessible on what we gringos would call 'fire roads'. Pretty rutted, eroded, steep and overgrown fire roads, but still technically not quite singletrack.

I had to explain to one of the best mountain bikers in the country what singletrack is. He simply couldn't fathom that you can build a narrow trail onto a ridiculously steep slope, and still make it up in your middle chainring. I told him about the twisting, snaking ride you get as you corner every tree, and pump every roller. Vines to duck and kickers to hit can be built into the design.

Rom's smile grew as I gushed.

On the mainland up near the Arenal volcano, I've heard there is some good riding on the hiking and cow trails. But they can be quite muddy 9 months out of the year so the singletrack season is brief.

Rom is excited about the idea of singletrack coming to the Nicoya penisula. It's still jungly and full of wildlife, but a lot drier. I assured Rom that if the trails are built, they will come.


Anonymous said...

chainring should always be spelled CHAINRNNG in memory of fallen or injured friends

6:45 PM  
Anonymous said...

Sounds great down there. I'm thinking of going down to that area in Feb. 2006. Any tips of who to hire/hook up with for some good shuttle biking?

Terrace, B.C., Canada

10:39 AM  
marla streb said...

hey Jeff

I'm not sure of shuttle biking down there, although I've heard some freeriders did that recently. A few downhills that take all day to descend. I need to find them myself!


6:44 PM  
Nicco said...

Great sounding trip. I spent some time in Costa Rica during my Army days. Needless to say, it wasn't a mountain biking trip. I do miss the 'breath' of the jungle. Only those who have experienced a multi-canopy jungle can relate.

If you find some outfitters down there that tour out-of-town Ticos, let us know. :)


8:27 AM  
Patrick said...

That sounds like a fun place. I'm patrick (my dads and brother sail a lot at the yacht club). One time your boy friend gave me some redbulls. You mmet justin my friend at the phsyical therapy place, haha.

I want to checkout those montana de oro trails. In SLO, i've only ridden Madonna, Morning Glory. I have ridden a lot of urban stuff around SLO and morro bay. At justins ranch in Morro bay, we are going to to an all day ride on cow trails through ranches, back into the hills next time i'm there. He just got his AS-X today, and now he can pedal around.


10:35 PM  
Adolfo Castellon said...

Arenal Volcano is the most active volcano in Costa Rica and one of the most active in the world with its daily eruptions. This makes the area of Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna a fascinating tourist destination for foreigners as well as residents of Costa Rica.
This site will give you all the necessary facts about the Arenal Volcano and provide you with information about hotels and lodges in the Arenal Volcano and la Fortuna area.

Arenal Volcano

12:01 PM  
TicoBiker said...


Costa Rica is much more than Nicoya Peninsula and blondie Rom is definitely not a typical Costa Rican rider. There is singletrack in the Arenal area and just today I got my ass whipped by some very technical stuff in the Los Santos area. In addition to freeriding there is singletrack and epic rides from over 10 thousand feet down to the coast following primary rainforest.

Next time get better directions.


PS: congrats on your pregnancy!

9:10 PM  
Silvia said...

Are there any regulations in Costa Rica regarding where you can and cannot mountain bike? I didn't look into this yet, but I'm studying tourism and recreation and I was curious.

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