MOUNTAIN BIKING IN COSTA RICA
Itwas with no small amount of trepidation that I departed on my first all-women bike trip. I could count the number of women I’d biked with on one hand prior to embarking on this trip. I wondered what the group dynamics would be like and how I would handle the sudden climate change from winter to riding in tropical temperatures. It was correct to be worried about the latter. The first day we were all dying pedalling up under a midday sun. Sweat poured off me and lagging behind, I was finally forced to stop in the shade of a tree in order to guzzle down water while staring longingly at the sparkling ocean just a tantalizing downhill ride away. It soon became apparent that no one minded waiting, group dynamics were fabulous, and the girls were stoked to stop for photos each time I whipped a camera out with sweaty hands. The trails were what I’d hoped for, smooth and non-technical, winding up through a jungle of hanging green vines and ochre coloured flowers. From the hilltops, panoramic views of the Catalina Islands and a soft breeze preceded smooth downhills that took us back to a palm fringed beach and a cool swim in the waves.
The days fly by in a flurry of exploration and pedal strokes. We ride sure-footed horses to the top of a trail and ride our bikes down (best way to shuttle drop EVER). We dive into frothy pools under thundering waterfalls, pedal beneath flamboyantly vibrant rainbows, and giggle uncontrollably while painting each other with mud facials at natural hot spring pools. At the butterfly farm, surrounded by dozens of vibrant, sentient wings fluttering around us, we give chase with cameras and high-pitched, girly exclamations. Our conversations cover of a wide range of life topics. Predictably, we talk about boys; the past, the current, and the possibilities, all coupled with hilarious group “face-creeping” sessions huddled over iPhones in the evenings. Unicorns don’t come up much but everything else in life pretty much gets covered one way or another as we get to know each other. Our days often finish over margaritas, slacklining, sunset yoga sessions and outdoor massages from giggly local therapists.
One day finds us winding our way for 50km up the Rincón de la Vieja (The Old Woman’s Corner) Volcano through a thick swirling mist and heavy rain. Pedalling for hours through plantations and small villages up a rural dirt road, we pass locals on horseback who smile and wave, or look at us with disbelief. Panting up the last steep hill to the top and futilely wiping mud from my glasses for the eleventy-hundredth time, I definitely start to feel like I belong in the “old woman’s corner”.
We finally emerge from the clinging fog and monsoon rain on the other side of the mountain, and descend into bright sunshine soaking wet, legs burning, and liberally splattered in volcanic mud. Pushing hard on a ride seems to justify slacking around on the beach later. It’s like relaxation time
is paid for through accumulated grime, lactic acid, and a gallon of sweat. You don’t feel guilty lying around on a catamaran drinking one mojito after another while dolphins frolic in the sunset after a day like that. So that’s exactly what we decided to do on our last day. We still threw in some yoga, snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding for good measure, but mostly we worked on getting really sunburnt while drinking the types of beverages usually served with mini umbrellas. Martina was a guest of Sacred Rides for her Costa Rican adventure. Their tours in Costa Rica run in February, March, and December. For more information, please visit http://www. sacredrides.com/womens-rides/costarica/pura-vida
“The days fly by in a flurry of exploration and pedal strokes.”