MOUN­TAIN BIK­ING IN COSTA RICA

Mountain Bike for Her - - Front Page - Words and pho­tos by Martina Ha­lik

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.”

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