We asked a couple locals and got mixed reviews about the river, so we decided to do some reconnaissance and rode down to check it out so we would know what we were in for the following day.
Thorsten had told us it was only passable a small percentage of the days in the year, and even on those days you would need at least three guys, one to ride the bike and one on each side to keep you upright given the strong current. We were pleasantly surprised when we got there and walked across to find that it was only a few inches above my knee, and not flowing too fast. It seemed doable, and a quick consultation with some locals coming from the other way confirmed that this was the biggest crossing between El Castillo and the road we wanted to connect to.
The rest of the night was spent hanging with a few other travelers, swapping stories about our trips, and mentally preparing for our return to San Jose, and ultimately back home.
[Day 7 Stats - 85.4 miles, 57.7 mph max. speed, 5h 02m moving time, 883.79 miles total]
Essence Arenal delivered on every level, breakfast included.
With the much-anticipated river and a lot of miles to cover, we got up early and had the earliest start of the trip. It was a quick jaunt down to the river where we unsaddled, walked it again to confirm it hadn’t risen substantially, and plunged in. I rode the bikes across with Mike walking along on the down-river side pushing back on the bike against the current, which was of course stronger against the bike than it had been when we were just walking it across.
The crossings were pretty uneventful all things considered, albeit very exhilarating, if for no reason other than we’d been told that we wouldn’t be able to make it and that it was the largest river we’d crossed by at least 50%.
Once across, the remainder of the road around this south side of the lake didn’t disappoint, it was pretty rugged and had a good mix of everything from rocks, hills, more water crossings, and even some random patches of sand. It felt pretty great to be completing this loop around the lake and to be headed back towards San Jose, and to be headed back home.
This had been a substantial adventure for a lot of reasons, and the ride back south provided a good amount of time to reflect on the things we’d seen, the remote villages we were fortunate enough to visit, and all of the people we interacted with; which is probably what Mike was doing when he took a turn too hot, swept just a couple inches too wide, ran out of road, and took a tumbling dive onto what was probably the nicest and smoothest pavement we had ridden. I saw the whole thing unfold in my rearview mirror as I heard him start cussing in the intercom as soon as everything starting going awry, and all things considered, it didn’t look too bad.
After getting his bike picked up, we did a quick inventory and the most damage was strangely done to the top of his foot; we can only assume it scraped the edge of the road where it connects to the dirt. It appeared to be a typical scrape, albeit a pretty gnarly one, so we cleaned it as best we could with little first aid-kit wipes, bandaged it up, and pressed on.
The rain started coming down about 2-1/2 hours outside of San Jose and didn’t let up until about a mile away from Thorsten’s shop. I had been concerned about this kind of rain the entire trip, and we couldn’t have been luckier that it held off literally until we were on our way in; just another reason that this was the perfect trip.
[Day 8 Stats // 152.0 miles, 60.7 mph max. speed, 6h 24m moving time, 1,035.79 miles total]
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain