Cycling, not motorbiking, in Costa Rica Nov 23

Having had a very curtailed year this was the best I could eventually do. Very good for my knee !! Made me fit…no electric cycles…

Nov 3rd Friday

I started to get a cold on Thursday. Sucked Aconite pills all day. By night I was completely bunged up with cold. Were they helping? Took Sudafed…anything to hand!!! I slept hardly at all…really bad night.

But up to deliver the papers as usual , exhausted.  Set off to Heathrow later in the car feeling like a zombie. A little eyes shut at Barton Mills helped . Reached terminal 4 , handed over car to meet and greet and then walked to Premier Inn. Lay on bed but failed to sleep. Ate early and now in bed again.  Will I sleep? Have to be up at 3.45am….

Nov 4th Sat

Flight to Paris then boring 3 hour wait for flight to San Jose. The airport has no restaurants unless you use a lounge. I sit in a Pret a Porter, talk to a few strangers. Do not need a lounge as full of cold and not hungry. Flight is late off…11 hrs 40 mins long. Sit in aisle seat next to a German couple.  They are not friendly. Both vegetarian it transpires. I develop  very tickly cough which only water temporarily stops. The only time I manage to sleep the germans decide is the time to go walkabout and wake me up to get out. Why did they not go when I did??. I slept little. We arrived the equivalent of my 2am. I had been up for 22hrs with virtually no sleep, a foul cold and hacking cough. Met rest of team at the hotel…5 more were on my flight…and went to bed with no food etc. It was 8pm or so Costa Rica time. Tried to sleep but tickly cough kept at it about every half hour.

Nov 5th Sun

Still exhausted  but cold slightly better and eat breakfast clutching  my little airline water bottle ready for next bout of tickly cough ! Group is 14 of us. Mostly couples,  a single man and a few of us ladies. Tour guide Andrea, does over lengthy and detailed talk, bits of paper to sign . Finally get to bikes and put my bits on…gel saddle seat, phone holder and liitle front bag. Its hotter than I thought it was going to be….and humid. And off we go…First 14 miles…

It was really humid, really hot.  I was pretty exhausted from the start! I drifted to the back of the group…not a disaster! In the afternoon we went on a boat trip. Plenty of crocodiles on this river trip … we saw them and some birds….


Hotel has pool which we do not use and for me at least a large but musty room with the odd mini crabs running around .!  We all go to bed pretty early and I try and catch up on lost sleep. We are having to get  up at 5.40am to apparently do everything the next day.

Nov 6th Mon

I actually am awake by 4.30am. Make cup of tea….luckily brought electric kettle with me. Good  breakfast and off  we go in the bus to a National park and a 2 hour walk..  we see Sloth, White faced monkeys, Howler monkeys. Very high up in the trees…so photos tricky. Some birds, funny red crabs…



By 10 am back at bus. Bus for a while and then on cycles to cycle down the coast road. Its flat and dull. I lose my cool with the back marker guy who rides his bike right on top of me….stop by van and have conversation.  This does do a good job and I head onwards at my pace till we find the rest at a water stop. I think my strop has a good effect and another rest stop is put into the day. Andrea the young guide has something to learn. Well I want to enjoy the bike ride and not have it treated as a means of transport only ie…its part of our leisure trip and should be something to enjoy . This has been a boring flat stretch of road and therefore some interesting stops should have been planned.

Head for a restaurant. It is still early in the day for lunch and have been wondering why the urgency to get here. Others, more keen cyclists also found this bit of road flat and hard and tedious. They appear to support the stand I have made…that the cycling  should be interesting and not a race or  be pressured… its part of the holiday..the stops are where we can chat to the others…

Strangely the hotel is back up the road! It is now raining  and I am happy to go in the van with a few others. I have a lovely cottage room but sadly it rains till dark so I relax indoors. Everywhere is very inside/outside  as it is so warm. We all eat together and finally start to know each other .  Andrea the female guide is calming down a little….been very anxious. She is young and is very conscientious.

Nov 7th Tues

Not so far to cycle today but couple of long and steepish hills. They have taken on board my comments and we have more stops. Also there are now a few loitering if they want at the back with me !  Even one or two commenting to Andrea how nice to go their own pace…

I begin badly because my seat has slipped down in height again. Stop twice to attempt to fix it but finally see van and mechanic. Now made mark to see if it goes down again. Then stop because my gears played  up.  Second section I do okay but I am at the back…not badly! We swim. Quite a changing palaver with getting our sweaty clothes off in badly deficient changing rooms at a National park .  Not everyone swims. The beach was very picturesque but fairly hopeless for swimming. Very slightly shelving  so you walked out for miles between waves and then found  a fairly strong under tow going sideways along the beach. The water was very warm!! Then it was wet bather off and sweaty clothes back on ! One more cycling section with more ups and downs till we get to lunch. Hotel, like yesterday, is back up the road  a bit.

This has been a busy road but traffic well behaved. Large American trucks make much noise especially when de accelerating down hill. Fantastically loud at times!!


It is raining again as I write this….but still  so warm!

Nov 8th Wed

Woke in night to acute …water…diarrhoea.  Several loo sessions! Had to take 3 immodium tablets which very luckily I had brought.  Must have been the fish soup. When I met others at breakfast several of them were not great either.  I managed the cycling in the morning about 20 miles but that was it and I was in the van with 4 or 5 others , all feeling weak in various ways. The heat and humidity is so energy sapping. We all had van ride and then the others rode. We ended up in a spot like a holiday camp. The beach was nice , and there was a pool. I felt okay but lacking energy. It started to rain, the power went and so I just slept till supper which I hardly ate….just a few chips and a glass of red wine . Power had come on by then but no WiFi in our rooms. None of us were impressed by this spot 5 kms up a dirt track.

I am failing to say where each night has been because they are not in towns. It makes for a certain dullness. We have headed to the pacific coast and cycled for 3 days down it. Straight and trafficky road…not great cycling in the best of times.

Nov 9th Thurs

I am up again in the night. Its vaguely better but take on more immodium  in the early hours. Feel like breakfast which is good and eat 4 bits of banana cake plus other stuff. That seems a good idea and I do better in the cycling . We do not have to go far today. First a fast boat ride across the estuary.

Bit Iike the torpedo boat on the Tonle Sap in Cambodia….noisy.! Then we cycled and then in the van to drive up into the hills parallel with Panamanian  border and not far from it.

We stay in another school like environment in a botanical Park. We go on a botanical walk with a guide. It was very interesting…we first looked at a bird feeding table and had a great time seeing many birds including Aracari and toucans!

Saw a hummingbird or two but failed on a photo. Then he talked about this place founded by a couple called Wilson…Wilson Botanical  Gardens and centre now world famous. It rained! It’s rained most days in the afternoon.  Early supper and early bed for early up again. It is all to beat the rain.!

Nov 10th Friday

Off early on this downhill run which turns out more arduous!! Apparently 1600m downhill includes 600m uphill. At first in  cooler conditions as we started 1100m up but as we got lower each up was tougher. 31.5 miles and I was exhausted. Funnily , I found the downhill sections where one gathered good speeds  was exhilarating and quite a breathless thing at the same time. Felt quite lightheaded…perhaps just exhausted!

Then it was on the bus to head into the mountains a bit more. Lunch on the way. We see many fields of pineapple plants in various states of growth and harvest. Also sugarcane crops… It begins to rain as we head upwards.  We stay at about 1300m high….at Pelicano Hotel. It is noticeably cooler and they have an open fire going. Felt rather like a ski lodge. My own room had that feel too.

Nov 11th Sat

Down the very steep hill of the drive and down the valley we go beside a rushing river. It is a great downhill run on a nice side road. We meet cyclists coming up for their weekend exercise. We do just 15 miles, then on the bus and head towards Cartagena. We skirt the city. We have travelled on the bus over the continental divide. We went up to 3500m. Now on the east side and the tropical vegetation is different. There are two active volcanoes near Cartagena. The nearest was shrouded in cloud. Did not look too peaky! Cost Rica  produces 70% of its power from hydro electricity,  and 20% or so from wind and the rest from volcanic energy! No need for solar!

We get back on bikes for a short pleasant downhill stage of 8 miles to a modern motel like hotel. Meal out in restaurant with noisy accompanying band so we could hardly talk. Some of the group still under the weather.

Nov 12th Sun

Early off again for a very short ride to look at a coffee field. Andrea does her normal very lengthy explanation of coffee production. She is such an earnest lady! On we go, uphill and downhill . We finally bus the last hill to our hotel which has amazing views over the  countryside. Roger cycles it! Bit more bird watching …its now warmer again.

Nov 13th Mon

Off we go down the very steep drive. More hilly work though, and as we get nearer the sea we get hotter and more humid again. We get told there is a last long hill…it goes on and on , not 4 kms but 4 miles! The last bit nearly sorts us right out but we all make it including me !

Back in the bus to finally reach the coast.  The sea is breaking on a dark sandy shore..volcanic. It immediately feels Caribbean.  Tonight we are left to go to a restaurant  in town when we like. Tricky for solos but hang into a group. The beach is lovely but crashing waves. After we arrived in the afternoon  we plodded off into the national park behind Andrea. We see monkeys and a yellow snake….

Nov 14th Tues

Very early up…5am. Bus first…back up the coast. We get breakfast on the way after an hour. Then ride cycles along a flat side road lined by agricultural crops. Pineapples, Papaya, and mostly bananas. We see the rather amazing method of moving the banana bunches in their blue plastic bags on a kind of conveyer system off the fields and across roads. It holds us up..!!

Back in the bus and head towards the coast till we reach the road end. There we decamp into a slender boat and head down river towards the sea.

Beautiful scenery… We end up in an hotel on a peninsula  opposite Tortuguero. Small touristy place. Our hotel full of tourists, lounging round a pool. All a slight surprise to us. It is a place only accessible by boat. We do see the beach…turtles lay their eggs on it, but it is a strange, volcanic sand beach with breaking waves. Plenty of tourists walking the beach…

Back by boat to our hotel…..for supper. I do have a swim…lovely…in the dark in the pool. My room takes 5 minutes  to walk to in the forest.

Nov 15th Wed

We head off after another early start by boat to take a forest walk. We actually walk up an old volcanic peak. Sweet , tiny , poisonous , red frogs  by path and lovely Toucan…and views! Back in boat and up river back to our cycles and the van. We all enjoy the boat ride…see crocodile!

On cycles for easy ride but oh so hot and humid. Andrea explains about banana growing as we take a rest under banana trees. Then in bus for long ride that takes us north and west of San Jose to La Fortuna and very close to volcano Arenal. It is a very classical conical volcano and not allowed to walk there as it is active…erupted in 1968. We all go off to hot springs for a hot soak.

Quick drink after and then meal in restaurant. Last supper with driver and Antonio and Andrea. Give them their tip packet !

People in the group:

Barbara and Colin.


Sue and David.


Elaine and Roland.

Darren and Janine


Heather and Ian.

And me…14.

Nov 16th Thurs

Bus up to a dam and then cycle back down to Fortuna. ( Fortuna became touristy after 1968 when the volcano erupted. People came to volcano watch, plus now all things adventurous). We then cycled onwards and did 27 miles in total. Up and down hill. Suzzie was ill…sick!

That was it on cycling. Bus for too long back to our first hotel of the trip with lunch on the way there. Raining when we arrived. Say goodbye to the 3, driver, mechanic and guide. Andrea the guide was young, very earnest and naive about the rest of the world. Very proud of her own country. She needs to travel to Europe…

Costa Rica was more expensive than you might imagine. It was pretty clean from rubbish, neat and tidy. Lovely forests, and of course the wildlife. Too humid for me!!

Nov 17th Fri

My plane, on which there are 6 of us going back via Paris, does not leave till this evening . We decide to take a taxi ride to see the crater of a volcano…Volcano Poas. We go via Uber. Tricky negotiations go on as we want him to wait for us. His English is limited but via google translate and talk we manage to sort it. Sadly it is cloudy and drizzling. Good thing not cycling!! We have not experienced rain in the morning all the time we have been here. The volanco crater was at about 2,500 m. We sort of hope it would be above the cloud but not to be.


Our view was basically nil and we went back down and mooched around till we left. Shorter plane trip going east and all in all much easier for me without tickly cough. Still did not sleep much. Arrived in Paris next day. Hung around dull Charles de Gaulle airport and finally arrived back at Heathrow about 5pm. Got car and managed to drive back to Norfolk with lack of sleep.