Baptism of Fire in the Jungle

That was hard.  The first 40km was rough going until we got to lunch.  Unfortunately the problem was that there was no shelter at the lunch stop and it was absolutely pouring with rain.  We left San Jose on our bikes shortly after 6am and I arrived at the hotel in Agua Zargas after 4pm.

We cycled in a convoy for the first 17km while lead by a Costa Rican Tour  d´ Afrique expedition leader.  Then the rough part started.  I have never struggled so much while road-cycling.  The hills were steep and the last 10km before lunch at 40km felt particularly tough.  This is where the rain really got bad.

The idea of the lunch stop was to make us stop at a strategic point at the summit of the hills.  It was a bad place to stop but nevertheless a welcome break.  I just grabbed any food I wanted and waited for Dad.  Dad complained about the lunch stop to himself and I don´t think he ate much.

However 5km later some of the cyclists stopped at a designated coke stop.  Dad and I ordered soup and coffee.  The problem was that this was no ordinary soup.  There were whole potatoes, some other whole piece of vegetable and a large piece of meat in the soup accompanied with a bowl of rice.  I ate it all nevertheless feeling like “why I am doing this, there are other couples in the cafe just relaxing instead of cycling through rain in a jungle.”

Shortly after the lunch stop we took a right turn onto a terrible road. Since shortly before lunch I had removed my spectacles due to the rain and I couldn´t see the holes in the road very clearly.  I got left behind until we came to a spectacular waterfall at 53km where Dad and Joachim, a German cyclist, waited for me.  The power of the waterfall was awesome especially as we were right next to it on the road before we came to a bridge.  Dad and Joachim took good photographs.

We then proceeded on a long winding route, mostly downhill with a few sharp climbs, until we came to a police station at about 71km.  Here we turned left and Dad and I rode together.  We were both tired but with the hardest cycling already over and so it was just a case of stamina and concentration that we needed in order to get to the finish at 94km.  Unfortunately the rain started to pour heavier than even before but because we were cycling at a lower altitude, the rain was not as cold as that which we experienced while riding over the hills.

When I arrived at the stopover town of Agua Zargas, I was well ahead of Dad and a group of cyclists.  I wasn´t wearing spectacles even though it had stopped raining and I rode straight past the hotel turnoff.  After 20 minutes or so of cycling along the main road, I saw Dad walking on the main road waiting to guide me to the hotel.  At this point I was angry but my frustration dissipated when I arrived at the hotel and had shower.

This was a real jungle book episode.  No doubt the rainforest is spectacular but no more so than the ominous hill climbing.  You just have to keep cycling even when you are stretched to the limit and the weather is wicked.  Small things like being able to ride in a group make a difference but I think that cycling without spectacles was actually beneficial because I couldn´t see the climbs ahead.

Time to unwind and socialise before dinner.  This is a very natural journey when you act without thinking when cycling and relaxing.


About wggreig

age 72 cyclist and runner
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