Raft Costa Rica

Simon and I just completed the extreme adventurous mountain bike race La Ruta De Los Conquistadores as well as rafting a class 4 river.

Here is the story and photos

 

Me at the finish

Is it not better to have tried than to sit on the side lines?  The video above gives me goose bumps people engaging life that is what it is about

The Rafting on day 3

RAFTING Below

 

 

RAFTING CLASS 3 and 4 rapids

Simon and I in the Raft above and below us!!! Kicking ass and taking names.  All enemies were killed today!!!

 

 

The Pacuare River, or the Rio Pacuare, in Costa Rica has its source in the Cordilleras de Talamanca and flows approximately 108 km to the Caribbean. It is a popular location for white water rafting and kayaking.  The rainforests that surround the river are home to exotic animal species such as Jaguars, monkeys and ocelots and a very large number of birds of course. Also it was considered one of the 5 nicest rivers to practice rafting. On class 3, 4 and 5 rapids with some decent holes to practice in.

 

We did the Lower Section – This is the section of class III and IV whitewater that the Pacuare River is most known for.  It flows approximately 23 miles (and dropping approximately 1200 feet) from Finca La Cruz to the town of Squires. The run can be done in a single day trip or as long as a three-day trip- we did thirteen miles in one day. The highlights of this section include the whitewater rapids and the waterfalls that flow into the river in the Huacas River Gorge. The rapids include Upper and Lower Huacas (class IV), Double Drop (class III), Cimarones (class IV) as well as multiple others.

 

 

Large cats have been spotted near the river but as always these animals are elusive. Jaguars have been spotted near the Haucas River Gorge. Anteaters, raccoons, river otters, iguanas, monkeys and sloths are all common. 

 

There are five different but common snakes are found in the area. The poisonous ones include the coral snakes and Fer-de-lance.  I ran over a fer-de-lance on my bike.   The Blue Morpho is the most popular butterfly of the area and I saw one biking in the race.

 

The Chestnut-mandible Toucan and I saw one is most commonly seen when it is raining or foggy on the river.  Parakeets are all over the place.  Other common birds of the area are the Orependula (Oriel), King Fisher, Tiger and Blue Heron, Hawks, Osprey, King Vulture Sun Bird and Snowy Egret

 

The Pacuare River is rated one of the top rivers in the world for a host of reasons. You’ll get to explore the intimate nature of the rainforest from the river perspective. The warm water, cascading waterfalls, and opulently lush rainforest with its brilliantly colored plants, animals, and birds make this trip exquisite for your senses. Add in the exciting Class III -IV whitewater rapids and you have a tropical adventure packed with rich experiences that last long after you’ve returned home.

 

One of the most memorable aspects of the Pacuare trip has always been the put-in. For several years, one outfitter used the original river access plan, wherein local campesinos shuttle rafts, kayaks, equipment, and food down a dirt path on an oxcart. A flood wiped out the road to the river, so the oxcart method of transport had to be abandoned. Although the old road/trail through San Martin has recently been upgraded and improved, most trips now begin at a drive-in access point two miles downstream. Yes the drive in point is scary.  The angle of attack must be 25 to 30%

 

From the put-in to the beginning of the inner gorge, the river drops through numerous Class II-III and IV boulder gardens and simple drops as it becomes sequestered in the ever more verdant rain forest.  Among the more interesting residents of the lowland forest are ocelots and jaguars.  Although the big cats are rarely seen, somehow you just know that they are watching you warily from the dark shadows of the enclosing jungle

 

Ok so we started at like 5:30 and ended  at 11Am and it was great fun but I got hypothermic, it was freezing

Here are 2 nice videos rafting first and then la Ruta above

BIKING BELOW

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9JMCBy96I0

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8SvD2Zddik&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-d4-30iYks&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RwspQofue4&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Longer biking version below


Other important  functions that tested the racers as much as the race itself:

This was also a test of sleep deprivation and consuming different foods and so on.  As an example:  on the last day after finishing the race it took us about 10 hours to get the hotel to get a shower and something to eat.  That day they ran out of food and then they served undercooked rice and beans.  We had to wait 5 hours for the bus and the ride to the hotel was another 4 to 5 hours and we travelled in head-on traffic in the fast lane of a divided highway wow. The previous day after being covered in mud and riding for ten hours it took us at least 4 to 5 hours to get to the hotel and my hotel had no hot shower but the food was great. The day before that we waited for 2 to 3 hours to get on a bus with no showers ( the had cold outside showers no towels) for a 2-hour bus ride to a hotel that served us pineapple and cold coffee in the morning.  So the sleep deprivation and food also tested our being and was an adventure in itself.

We started with our feet in the Pacific and we ended with our feet and went swimming in the Caribbean.  It was an amazing race and I would recommend this to someone seeking an adventure however I would recommend doing your own logistics and getting you own hotels and drivers or using the Chris Carmichael group.   All of the elite racers have their own support and staff and the Chris Carmichael group has their own support staff and vehicles as well.  Honestly this is the only way to do this race in my opinion especially if you are older like me.


 

 

In preparation, we studied videos and read as much as we could for the race so we would be prepared: physically, mentally and emotionally. We finished every stage on time and I will say that was great as about 30-35% of the people failed the first day alone.  To that extent we liked everything about the race with the exception of the “hike a bikes” and the “railroad” riding.  However, we were not prepared for the “LOGISTICAL ADVENTURE” that took us by surprise.  I go into detail at the end under the topic “logistic “adventure.

The video is what it is all about

 

First of all I owe everything to Simon and Arden.  They got me through the race – I owe you guys big time!!!.  Arden keeps me going and Simon stopped me from quitting- dudes you are the best.

Simon above, one bad ass dude!!!

The note to the TSA explaining what was in the bike box below

Before I start I would say this race could not be run in the United States for a variety of reasons some of them are: * no insurance company would write the policy, * no municipality would allow it, * no police department would allow this, combined with the logistical “adventure” would prohibit it.  An example is:  our bus (60 people on board) left Limon and made a wrong turn and went on a divided highway into head-on traffic in the fast lane and did not realize it even though Simon and I were telling him so.  It was not until a semi-truck with a huge container drove head-on into our bus with his lights flashing  making us stop,  did our driver learn he was on the wrong side of the highway.  He had to go onward for another few miles until an opening became available in the divided highway to cross over.  Wow we could have been killed easily.  This was one of many

Also, a lot of things out here could kill you.  The cars, busses, heat, angle of attack of the downhill’s, the speed in the course, and the ability of getting lost. One more example of getting killed.  The buses that took us rafting traveled on narrow roads with angles of attack that were far to great and had their brakes gone out or had they lost control everyone would have been killed.  The angle was so steep trying to get up the mountain that they had to towed out, now that is what I am talking about.

Videos at the end.  So on to the race. Here is the story:

LA RUTA DE LOS CONQUISTADORES was a true adventure in every sense concerning:  The mountain biking, logistics, food and housing. Adventure from beginning to end.

As we traveled to the Marriott at Jaco below

and we passed the rivers that held crocodiles that were 15 to 20 feet long.


During the race, we both submerged ourselves in these rivers upstream but not by far from the Crocks just to cool down.

On the first crossing above we both looked at each other and said- we die by heat stroke or crocodiles what does it matter.

We stared from the Marriott in Jaco and it was awesome place with great food and great pacific coast territory.  wow we did not know what was about to hit us in the race. Simon and I at the Marriott below

Above at the beginning of the race above in Jaco and below. Simon was my wing man and one awesome dude.  I would go into any battle with him as my captain – he wold never let you down.

Dude you are one bad ass thank you!!

The start below wow wicked cool

 

Start day above.

Concerning the mountain biking adventure: It is Costa Rica’s premier mountain bike race, a very difficult athletic event to say the least that is about 170 to 180 miles long with about 30,000 feet of climbing and one reaches an elevation of about 10,000 feet. Temperatures range from about 90 to 100 in the valleys with high humidity to a low of about 30 degrees on the Volcano. From the moment we got there, it rained every day: before, during and after the race.

In the first day only 352 people finished out of 495 participants or about 30% of the riders dropped out the first day.  The racers (and it is a race) are mostly the very best mountain bikers and endurance racers from around the world.  They are national champions, Olympic champions or contestants or sponsored by bike manufacturers. They come to Central America to test themselves in this unique odyssey of distance, geography, climate and it is the only bike race that traverses the American land mass from coast to coast — from Pacific to Atlantic. Between its sea-level start and finish, the 175-mile route crosses 5 mountain ranges that force you climb a cumulative 30,000 feet!

On our ride, we got a chance to see and hear many of the tropical birds, plants, snakes and reptiles along the way as we traveled through nine of the country’s twelve different microclimates.  The route snaked its way through tropical rain forests, a 12,000 foot volcano, banana plantations and tiny farm towns below.

Every day it rained and at times it was a downpour and we were covered with mud from head to toe (below)

and our shoes were clogged with mud and at times our wheels would not move as they got clogged with mud. We rode over every imaginable riding surface— single-mud- sucking-single-track (below),

fire road and trails (below),

gravel, hard-packed dirt, pavement that is me smiling and having fun but suffering (below) 2 photos,

 

 

We rode through thigh-deep mud- no joke seriously: rivers and streams and mud up to your thigh, sand, volcano ash, and more Below.

 

The one thing I would eliminate is the hike-a-bikes.  I like to ride so having to carry your bike for a significant amount of time was painful to say the least. There were some smoking step descents in which Simon and I reached speeds approaching 50 miles per hour.

 

We traveled through drenching rain forests, sweltering humid jungles, steaming volcanoes,  very cool coastlines paralleling the Caribbean, over suspended train bridges and deep river gorges below.

This race tests everything you’ve got — your riding abilities, physical endurance, and mental strength and equipment durability.

Ok here are the daily rides.

The first stage:  The first stage almost broke me.  We got up at 4 Am got some grub in the beautiful Marriott and then we were off for about 70 miles with an elevation gain of about 14,000 feet. We had a nice start that went from asphalt to packed dirt road to jeep trail to un-rideable mud packed single track.

There were long long long unending up hills and then we got to the single tracks – this started the “hike a bike”- which I hate.  But that is part of the adventure. At the base of every (hike a bike) and there were hours of them, were streams about 3 feet deep.  It was so hot I just immersed myself in the streams and one time my bike floated away.  Once we got through the un-rideable mud pit single tracks we rode huge up hills and dangerous down hills to the finish. The angle of attack on the descents on the inside of the curves were up to 45 degrees -wow.  End-overs were a real concern to me.  At the end of the day, I wanted to quit but thanks to Simon I got back in the saddle the next day.

 

Day two:  Day two was either all uphill or all downhill.  They post it as a 50 mile ride but every racer that had a mileage reader said it was a 60 + mileage day.  I would agree with that statement that is – it was a 60-mile ride based on time and my experience.  It was about a 25 continuous mile uphill ride from 4000 feet to 10,000 feet.

Dude that is me above cold, and wet.  Every day it was pouring but Simon kept me going.  dude you are a bad ass you kept me in the game. 

Total elevation gain for the day was about 8,000 feet. The best part of the day was the 27-mile decent.  In the beginning there were some of the most difficult single tracks I have been on,  so I walked down however once I got through that portion it was smoking cool.

Wow Simon and I were smoking it. It was like snow skiing on the dirt road like skiing a giant slalom and when we hit the macadam road we reached speeds up to 50 miles per hour.  Imagine a 27-mile decent!!

Day three.   We had about 3 hours of sleep this night at the most. The day started at 3:30 Am to get ready for the rafting (see below).  The rafting was very cool and was a 14-mile long class 2 to class 4 river. We had some serious holes and nice white water to contend with.  I actually had early stages of hypothermia.  Thank God I got in the back of the boat or I was starting to get worried.  Now after finishing the rafting we started the bike race and (this was a real race of about 40 miles in length) a sprint.  It was mostly macadam roads and or sand and dirt roads.

 

 

We crossed (walking) active railroad bridges that were 40 yards above a raging river with no support.

 

There were no safety measures to catch you if you fell.  Quite a few people were terrified and both Simon and I helped the people across.  We rode between the railroad tracks getting our asses torn to shreds and we raced.  It was an awesome day, I loved it all other than getting stuck in a line waiting to cross the bridges.

Me at the finish

Is it not better to have tried than to sit on the side lines?  The video above gives me goose bumps people engaging life that is what it is about

The Rafting on day 3

RAFTING Below

 

 

RAFTING CLASS 3 and 4 rapids

Simon and I in the Raft above and below us!!! Kicking ass and taking names.  All enemies were killed today!!!

 

 

The Pacuare River, or the Rio Pacuare, in Costa Rica has its source in the Cordilleras de Talamanca and flows approximately 108 km to the Caribbean. It is a popular location for white water rafting and kayaking.  The rainforests that surround the river are home to exotic animal species such as Jaguars, monkeys and ocelots and a very large number of birds of course. Also it was considered one of the 5 nicest rivers to practice rafting. On class 3, 4 and 5 rapids with some decent holes to practice in.

 

We did the Lower Section – This is the section of class III and IV whitewater that the Pacuare River is most known for.  It flows approximately 23 miles (and dropping approximately 1200 feet) from Finca La Cruz to the town of Squires. The run can be done in a single day trip or as long as a three-day trip- we did thirteen miles in one day. The highlights of this section include the whitewater rapids and the waterfalls that flow into the river in the Huacas River Gorge. The rapids include Upper and Lower Huacas (class IV), Double Drop (class III), Cimarones (class IV) as well as multiple others.

 

 

Large cats have been spotted near the river but as always these animals are elusive. Jaguars have been spotted near the Haucas River Gorge. Anteaters, raccoons, river otters, iguanas, monkeys and sloths are all common. 

 

There are five different but common snakes are found in the area. The poisonous ones include the coral snakes and Fer-de-lance.  I ran over a fer-de-lance on my bike.   The Blue Morpho is the most popular butterfly of the area and I saw one biking in the race.

 

The Chestnut-mandible Toucan and I saw one is most commonly seen when it is raining or foggy on the river.  Parakeets are all over the place.  Other common birds of the area are the Orependula (Oriel), King Fisher, Tiger and Blue Heron, Hawks, Osprey, King Vulture Sun Bird and Snowy Egret

 

The Pacuare River is rated one of the top rivers in the world for a host of reasons. You’ll get to explore the intimate nature of the rainforest from the river perspective. The warm water, cascading waterfalls, and opulently lush rainforest with its brilliantly colored plants, animals, and birds make this trip exquisite for your senses. Add in the exciting Class III -IV whitewater rapids and you have a tropical adventure packed with rich experiences that last long after you’ve returned home.

 

One of the most memorable aspects of the Pacuare trip has always been the put-in. For several years, one outfitter used the original river access plan, wherein local campesinos shuttle rafts, kayaks, equipment, and food down a dirt path on an oxcart. A flood wiped out the road to the river, so the oxcart method of transport had to be abandoned. Although the old road/trail through San Martin has recently been upgraded and improved, most trips now begin at a drive-in access point two miles downstream. Yes the drive in point is scary.  The angle of attack must be 25 to 30%

 

From the put-in to the beginning of the inner gorge, the river drops through numerous Class II-III and IV boulder gardens and simple drops as it becomes sequestered in the ever more verdant rain forest.  Among the more interesting residents of the lowland forest are ocelots and jaguars.  Although the big cats are rarely seen, somehow you just know that they are watching you warily from the dark shadows of the enclosing jungle

 

Ok so we started at like 5:30 and ended  at 11Am and it was great fun but I got hypothermic, it was freezing

Here are 2 nice videos rafting first and then la Ruta above

BIKING BELOW

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9JMCBy96I0

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8SvD2Zddik&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-d4-30iYks&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RwspQofue4&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Longer biking version below


Other important  functions that tested the racers as much as the race itself:

This was also a test of sleep deprivation and consuming different foods and so on.  As an example:  on the last day after finishing the race it took us about 10 hours to get the hotel to get a shower and something to eat.  That day they ran out of food and then they served undercooked rice and beans.  We had to wait 5 hours for the bus and the ride to the hotel was another 4 to 5 hours and we travelled in head-on traffic in the fast lane of a divided highway wow. The previous day after being covered in mud and riding for ten hours it took us at least 4 to 5 hours to get to the hotel and my hotel had no hot shower but the food was great. The day before that we waited for 2 to 3 hours to get on a bus with no showers ( the had cold outside showers no towels) for a 2-hour bus ride to a hotel that served us pineapple and cold coffee in the morning.  So the sleep deprivation and food also tested our being and was an adventure in itself.

We started with our feet in the Pacific and we ended with our feet and went swimming in the Caribbean.  It was an amazing race and I would recommend this to someone seeking an adventure however I would recommend doing your own logistics and getting you own hotels and drivers or using the Chris Carmichael group.   All of the elite racers have their own support and staff and the Chris Carmichael group has their own support staff and vehicles as well.  Honestly this is the only way to do this race in my opinion especially if you are older like me.