Saturday, November 24, 2007

la ruta - day zero

After returning to Jorge's house from the local swimming hole in San Ramon, TimmyD and I made sure we had everything ready to go. Jorge's friend, Alonso, was supposedly coming to pick us up an drive us all (Jorge, his daughter Adriana, TimmyD and myself) over to the race start at Jaco Beach. This was my first experience of what we'll call "Costa Rican Time". You're promised something to occur at a particular time but in reality it occurs much later. [Later on I've heard that this is not just confined to Costa Rica but most countries outside the US. Just goes to show you how often I travel outside the US..]

Our initial departure was set for 3pm. That gave us plenty of time to make the 1.5hour drive to Jaco Beach and relax a bit. Right after lunch it was a good time to take a nap and continue to rest up for the big race. Meanwhile, Jorge and his brother decided to install a new refrigerator that was delivered the day prior. 3pm came and went with no Alonso. As much as we wanted to leave and get to Jaco Beach with plenty of time to rest; alas, our hands were tied. We had no control and were at the mercy of some mighty fine Costa Ricans.

5pm arrives and guess who pulls up? That's right. Alonso and his turbo diesel Mitsubishi Outlander pick-up truck. Just like clockwork, the 5pm rains started as well. After loading up the bikes and stuffing our travel bags within trash bags (to keep dry) the five of us hit the road for Jaco Beach.

The route involved lots of back-roads winding up and down the mountains. At one point Alonso stopped dead in the center of the road. Window rolls down, a whistle and a Spanish conversation with some random taxi driver (Alonso doesn't speak much english) netted a minor detour. Apparently the road was washed out ahead due to a mudslide. Right were we stopped a bypass was cut into the mountainside. 4WD-LO and we're now crawling up this muddy incline (aka: the bypass). It looked as if they just bulldoze this bypass and called it a day. Tire ruts everywhere and lots of mud. As we're going up a Toyota Corolla passed us coming down. Both TimmyD and I looked at each other with the reaction "They drove that Corolla up this muddy hillside??". A minute later we're back in 2WD and on pavement. WOW. You don't run into these kinds of detours in the 'states.

As the road flattened out and we quickly approached the Pacific Coast our average speed increased.... 120kph and passing people on a double yellow through blind turns. This is where we found out Alonso drives his truck as if he's on one of his many motorcycles. Not sure if seatbelts would have helped us here but we made it down to Jaco Beach safely.

Upon arrival at the Best Western hotel in Jaco Beach the place looked dead. Guess we missed the pre-race meeting. Time to get our 'official' bag, number plate (#244 for me) and timing chip. The bag area was fairly desolate but this is what it looked like only a few hours earlier:

(Photo credit: Kevin)
Guess we got there kind of late. Back to Alonso's truck to piece together our bikes and transfer our gear from our bags to the 'offical' La Ruta bag. Alonso signed his truck up as a support vehicle so he and Adriana will be following TimmyD, Jorge and myself through the four day race. Gear and bikes in our room for the night. Bedtime...


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