Puntarenas - Costa Rica 09/05

HomeCosta Rica Adventures

p9300418e.jpg (122621 bytes)  09/30/05 - Friday - Dominical to San Jose
We had heard about a bridge out and patted ourselves on the back for hitting the river crossing after a fresh start. As it turned out, the washed out bridge would not have been a welcome sight the night before if we had chosen to tackle it then.

What led to this day getting a bit of a blemish was the last minute decision to traverse the route to San Jose through Valle Parrita, rather than our previously planned route via Jaco on the hardtop. Valle Parrita is gorgeous, but better suited for the dryer season in January through April (when we had talked about doing this before). The area had been the highlight of the Costa Rican news for days, as the effects of flooding and landslides were still being cleaned up. We hit our snag in a patch of fog on a descending patch of road covered in wet red clay. We had been spaced out pretty good on the dirt, but in the rain and fogging up of glasses and helmet shield I was losing my ability to see the road conditions ahead and I closed the gap between myself and Gordo so I could follow a better track. He didn't keep his speed down enough and when he hit the clay he started to wash out and likely panic braked rather than letting his feet help him slide upright through it. He went down hard and his bike sprawled across most of the one lane road. I picked going to the right and rode a ditch out around and a few meters past him, then somewhere in all the excitement I mismanaged the throttle and was unable to stay upright much longer than that (I can't remember if I was trying to power out of the ditch or slowing for a place to stop). Andy had no choice but the small left edge and rode it out pretty impressively to an appropriate place to pull off the road about 25 meters down the grade.

My damage was limited to staining the left handgrip with red clay (laugh, but it does take a bit of effort to clean off) and pealing off the outermost rubber ring on the shifter. My foot landed backwards in the mud under the swing arm. I wasn't under it long enough to notice whether my knee pads helped at all, but no doubt the heavy motocross boots paid for themselves. I thought about pulling myself out from under the bike, but with no apparent injuries I decided to wait for Andy to leverage the back up a bit before yanking my leg the wrong way or losing more footwear in the mud (see flip-flops). I got my bike started and out of the ditch under power (why not before?) and power walked it down to where Andy had parked. 

I walked back up to help Andy get Gordo's bike righted and out of the way. After a few minutes it was obvious that Gordo's day of riding was over. A local couple passing by in a pick-up offered to haul the bike back to San Jose. Gordo had a difficult time standing so we sent for an ambulance to bring him to the local clinic. We met him at the clinic where they soon decided to send him on to San Jose for X-rays and tests. Assured he was in the best hands, we concentrated on getting back safely to San Jose.

Continuing on in the rain and mud, I was very pleased with what I was learning to do on the bike on this leg of the trip, but my vision in the downpour was horrible. In the efforts to get the bike righted and into the truck (what ramp?), I had gotten a bit toasty in the rain gear. I then had to keep my ever fogging helmet shield up too much to keep my glasses dry. I was having to stop every ten minutes or so to shake or wipe water drops off the glasses. I am definitely going to look into getting contact lenses for this kind of activity.

The weather broke as we crossed the ridge to Santiago, conveniently as we hit the hardtop again. The road was clean and the curves were engineered (not just some lazy old farm road asphalted over). We took a good section of road at quite a clip, leaning over far enough to drag our boots on a few tight curves.

We met up with Gordo's bike back in San Jose and Andy had to insist that the guy take some money for hauling it down there. Hard to believe the incredible hospitality of some people. 

140+ Km for the day.

p9300408.jpg (99853 bytes)
A visitor at our breakfast near 
Dominical wears the same
color gear as me!
RioSaverge.jpg (98139 bytes)
On the map you have two ways
to cross the river. Isn't that nice?
See the next photos...
p9300413p.jpg (339933 bytes)
One of the reasons we stopped near Dominical the night before. 
Always good to face a new set of obstacles after a fresh start.
This is a British manufactured military scissor bridge that washes 
out at least every two years
img_3227.jpg (118217 bytes)
I take a peek at the crossing
next to a truck being pulled from
the river. A little bit anti-climatic, 
as obviously someone from our 
group has already crossed to 
get this photo!
(photo Andy)
img_3228.jpg (128706 bytes)
I plow on through the last part between
some construction equipment. The
ruts we tracked beneath the murky
current of water were a good bit deeper 
than where that truck was parked
(photo Andy)
img_3229.jpg (115629 bytes)
This guy isn't collecting a toll
from me, he just happens to be
precisely where I was aiming
at exiting and I wasn't about to 
change course halfway across!
(photo Andy)
p9300425.jpg (87212 bytes)
Wet red clay. Gordo goes down
and not gently enough. It was 
even harder to pick the bike up
in this soup. Bent handle bar.
Rider in pain.
p9300426.jpg (142910 bytes)
I followed the "Prime Directive"
and avoided hitting the bike ahead 
of me. I would have gotten a better
photo but my foot was stuck in the
mud under the swing arm
p9300429.jpg (113202 bytes)
Easy left turn anyone?
p9300430.jpg (104798 bytes)
You barely see the 
people in the fog
p9300431.jpg (148446 bytes)
We throw Gordo's bike on to 
a local couple's pick-up
p9300432.jpg (122140 bytes)
Too much speed and 
not enough traction
p9300436.jpg (123792 bytes)
We look forward to when this
is funny. Good laughs remind 
us of lessons learned hard.
p9300444.jpg (111838 bytes)
Some professional cleaning 
help in San Jose. They even 
washed us; boots, rain-gear,
 luggage and all!

See more than you want at: http://profiles.yahoo.com/sandiegoland