September 01, 2009

Costa Rica Dirt - Libano to Quebrada Grande and back

Libano is a weird little town which is pretty close to our place. It's difficult to get to, as it's not really on the way to "anything" and there really isn't anything there but a pulperia (a tiny store), some cows and a river. A really cool place nonetheless. I'm guessing maybe 200 people live there. They are in process of paving the road into town, so when you show up wearing a bunch of white skin people start talking. They start talking about the new river-side condos going in or the new air conditioned casino with $5 minimum blackjack tables or the Wal-Mart Super Store and how it's gonna drive the pulperia out of business. However, when you unload $4,000 worth of mountain bikes out of the back of your piece of shit truck that is only worth $500, they start to scratch their heads and realize your up to something totally different - like something WAY off their radar screen.

The ride follows the Rio Canas and Quebrada (creek) Grande to the town of Quebrada Grande. It's an out and back, which is this case, might be good as there some brutal climbs and miles of mud and very naughty baby heads to deal with - so if you get sick of it and need to head back to the Pulp for a beer, you've got that in your back pocket. The lower portion of the ride, along the rio is very rolly and do-able by anybody- however, at the sharp left at the remote cabin (right before a second river crossing) the brutalness begins and it's a steep-ass bitch-of-a-climb to civilization and the turn around point. Speaking of civilization, there is not much of out there, so be careful because it may be a while before somebody finds your sorry ass.

Cross-valley views of two huge waterfalls make you forget about the climbs and the sections of hike-a-bike and the mud and your non-functioning clip-in pedals and the circling vultures - at least for a few seconds. Once you pull into Quebrada Grande you'll be greeted with "duro! duro!" (duro=strong) by folks walking along the road because they KNOW that it's one killer climb you've just come up. On the way back to Libano, there are some really great swimming holes to explore along the river but you might be wise to pick up a few cervezas in town and jump in the river there - Hey, ya gots to have priorities now!

The first river crossing - you will think "I can cross this bad-boy but I'm not really sure about carrying a bike across it and I'm not really sure about these slippery bike shoes". Really, it's pretty sketchy and it you fall into the water it would not be that bad for you - but retrieving your bike from 20 feet below the water surface in that tiny gorge just might suck - better to go back a few hundred yards and cross.......

Here! -It's still waist deep, but not bad
This is what to expect on the climb - long stretches of clay and grass and technical madness