Riding Costa Rica: Epilogue and Thoughts

I try to take a look back after each trip, and consider - what was the best, the worst, what I’d do differently, or definitely do again, from specific destinations to gear, and everything in between….for the next one. ;)

Let’s start with the general route, then dig into bikes, gear and other bits.. 

SIgn in middle of nowhere..

General Trip Route and Time


Initially, I had wanted to go further each day, and see a few more places.  I had also wanted to spent more time on the dirt..
This was a compromise of nescessity, both with trying to balance out riding time with scenery and activities, along with wanting to see as much as possible, focusing on a handful of ‘must see’s like Arenal and Manual Antonio.  

Overall - I think it went pretty well.  The ‘Hell Day’ running out of water not-withstanding, and acknowledging some of the trip sections took a lot longer than any map estimates would have you believe - I think it was reasonably spot on, and a pretty good balance of riding time vs activity and relaxation time.  


So, especially the first time going somewhere, especially another country, a lot went into possible trip general routes in advance, refining the general route numerous times, and really - researching a whole lot on ‘is it worth going here?’ versus how much additional time or out of the way something was.

Considering the trip length, a bunch of places weren’t visited.  I could have done without visiting Jaco, but otherwise was pretty good with the places we’d been able to make it to.  I would have liked an extra day perhaps just to actually go see San Juan ‘while I’m there’ - I don’t choose to spend an enture vacation in ‘tourist-land’ or cities, but would have been pretty ok with a day roaming around the city.  I might have been ok with another day around Arenal, moreso as the weather wasn’t cooperating and didn’t get to see Arenal shooting off at all...

The bikes

It’s easy to look back in hindsight and pick different choices.  For the most part, I think the DR650 and DR350 were right on target, at least considering the overall mix of riding.  Something like a Wee-Strom/DL650 wouldn’t have made it half the places we went, and sure, a KTM might have been a bit more ‘fun’ for me on the dirt, but I likely would have paid for it when on closer-to-normal roads.  

I might not have gotten ‘stranded’ out of water if both of the bikes were DR350s…which would have done just fine on the off-road sections, but might have left me lacking a bit of grunt on the highway sections.  

Tough to say - both bikes proved reliable, held up, and did their jobs…tough to call on doing it again if I’d have gone for the 350 over the 650 or not.

The gear

The single biggest lack that burned us more than once was the lack of working GPS.  Doing it again today, I’d either be paying for CR maps on a bike GPS like the Zumo, or checking into International data for the phone.  I’d still be keeping the phone in my inside pocket a majority of times, but it would be helpful for the rare highway ride and to periodically check location and distances, and possibly - finding somewhere to stay as well.

The Airhawk did well enough.  It’s not going to make the seat body-formed for you, but can make marginal or worse seats into something tolerable, and it succeeded at that.  It still felt a bit ‘weird,’ but - I’m glad I brought it.

The big old waterproof backpack - huge success, and I love this thing.  It’s thick enough to be durable on it’s own, and the roll top let’s me up or down-size it a bit as needed.  

I had brought some tools, but thankfully didn’t need to use them on this trip.  Better to be prepared and not need than to need and not have, although bike tool kits, including my own, are ever-evolving for the balance between limited added weight vs need.

It was worthless in this case bringing a pair of hiking boots.  They just took up too much room, so they never left with us after arriving.  I had my riding boots and a pair of sneakers I kept in the backpack, and that was enough.  Given a different trip, where I’d be in a single hotel at the end of every day - makes a difference versus carrying everything you’ve got for the trip - with you at nearly all times.

The Air mesh pants did spectacularly and no regrets there, other than I wish the matching jacket had made it in time.
The mesh MX armor did OK enough, while the Olympia mesh gloves were pretty much shredded after my first off in gravel.  I had a spare pair of thinner MX type gloves and used them for the rest of the trip, but expect they wouldn’t have fared much better in a similar gravel slide.  
As always, I love my Oxtar boots - they fit great and are pretty protective overall.

Lol on bringing the Toughbook with me at all - I did check and respond to some work email, but between it and it’s power supply, I would have gladly lost the weight of it.  It still works, just - I shouldn’t have brought it.

The people - locals and others

In general, everyone was super-friendly.  

With a single exception, at no time did we feel unsafe hanging with or around the locals, even when asking for seemingly-obvious directions, etc.  The one exception was in Jaco, where it all felt a bit on the sketchy side…perhaps the nature of more touristy areas bringing people who might prey on some of those not-so-bright-and-possibly-shit-faced tourists now and then.  Dunno, but that was the overall vibe I got, with at least a couple of locals giving us the slow up and down, once-over from what we were riding to seemingly what we might be carrying..

Even though he wasn’t a native, I’m going to remember that 2 liter cold bottle of water on the mountain until my last days… ;)

Closing Thoughts

Overall it was a good trip.  
I’d love to go back to Costa Rica again, riding a bike (preferably) or even without.  

There were a handful of tense moments and sitatuations on the trip, but such is life….

Would I do it again?  Of course!  Pura Vida!