I’m just going to come out and say it: the motorcycle riders in Costa Rica are (among) the best riders in the world. Their roads, and sometimes that word (roads) is used very generously, are understatedly quite challenging. Some of the curves (U at the max, and a bunch of them) and the grades (steep slopes), and the climatic conditions under which the roads are used (torrential rains and an asphalt cooking sun), throw in the omnipresent good ole pot hole, all combined make Disney World look like a kiddy park and petting zoo.

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I just threw in that petting zoo part because one never knows when there will be one or more horse, cow, goat, iguana, poopy ass puppy or whatever creature in the middle of the road as you go around the next bend. Or, a 53’ Land Rover might be broken down for the millionth time, again, just around bend, where it stopped. Very rarely is there a place to pull over and get out of the way, safely on the side… why? Because on the one side is where the cut mountain bank meets the road, albeit with maybe up to a 3’ gutter straight down drop off right next to the road’s edge, and on the other side is the drop off going straight down, sometimes dizzying distances. There just is no room to pull over, mostly.

We see it all the time. Folks come down to ride, normal, good riders in the land of the flat road and reasonable curves who can hardly keep up on their first day; the day of the white knuckle. I remember one time on a HOG ride we had some Harley Davidson representatives down, riding with us.

Geez, you would have thought we were trying to get them to Dakar or something… over the Baja at the least. It was just a gentle ride on a normal day. We were headed over to south of Limon, down around Punta Uva somewhere I think, can’t remember. The ride is not at all radical, over to Cartago then down through Turrialba where, by the way, every Major League Baseball baseball is made, continuing on Ruta 10 through the land of Dole over to Siquirres to meet up with Ruta 32, the main road over to the Caribbean coast. Well, I thought they were going to have collective heat strokes by the time we got to Siquirres, where incidentally, it was just pouring down raining…aguacero, it’s called down here. I pitied them because they were pitiful. But, everybody has their first day here riding…

Hey, I’m not too proud to tell you that when I first got the Sporty 1200 it had been a while since my crazy playing tag in the field on our 250’s or 400’s days, or setting up a ramp and jumping the back bed of the pickup days were long behind me. There were years of male reorientation (marriage), parenthood and career in between. I just started riding up and down the streets in the neighborhood. Then I worked up the nerve to ride out of the neighborhood to go to Santa Ana (pronounced San tanna), a nice little 7 klicks or so ride of fun curves and gentle slopes. Then I expanded out to Ciudad Colon, just another 10 or so klicks away. The owner of the coffee shop/bakery across from the church remembers me to this day and I try to stop in wherever I get close. From there up another less than 20 klicks to Puriscal, another coffee shop. After days and days of doing this same ride, I was ready to take off the training wheels and ride with the big boys.

I learned from the best. I’m not kidding. I watched very carefully to see who the good riders were and they were easy to spot. I just followed them and did what they did. It had a lot to do with confidence, the way they handled their bikes on the roads over which they had travelled a million times; they could do it in their sleep. I’m not going to name names here, they know who they are; I’m afraid I might have a senior moment and forget someone. But I do remember one of my first rides, after which I found out later, one of my new lovely nieces who was then the retail manager at the Harley shop asked the Harley sales manager, who was on the ride, how I did? His response was, “…he kept up.” I smiled.

Other than confidence, and of course having a well maintained bike, once you learn the engineering of the roads… they use the same plans for every road where the slope and curves are the same… you’ve got it licked. Then, the only thing you have to do is to watch out for the civilians in their little 4 wheelers with a roof, who seem to aim for us…??? I have a million of those stories I’ll save for later.

Now, if I haven’t scared you off, man, you gotta come down and ride and see what we see when we ride. You will not be sorry and your biggest worry will be when and how soon you can get back here to do it again. I promise.

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