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Buenos dias, mis Bike Commuters… I’m writing from Turrialba, Costa Rica to give you the skinny on the bike sitch in my favorite country – read: the only country I’ve visited – in Central America. A popular destination for honeymooners, North American retirees, Australians on walk-abouts, or anyone who wants to experience the plentiful flora and fauna stretching from Pacific to Atlantic, Costa Rica is more than just Pura Vida and Rice & Beans. Here’s my two-colones on the Tico transportation scene peppered with a fun collection of photos of bicicletas. (Author’s sidebar: all of my observations are speculation-based and hold no real statistical value*, whatsoever. What I see through my half-blind eyes by day, I transcribe to you for your entertainment value by night!)
Survey says that bike commuters clearly comprise at least 27.934%* of the 70,000+ people here in Turrialba! Regarding advocacy, in the capital of San Jose, cyclists have rallied for more bike friendly infrastructure mirroring the movements in Mexico and Guatemala. The local advocacy group called ChepeCletas sought the help of the Embassy of the Netherlands (the two-wheeled riders of the North) to organize a friendly event of 400 cyclists around the capital in April 2012. Overall, Costa Rica is home to several species of Cyclesauruses: ladies on bikes with umbrellas, serious Orbea-riding roadies, old abuelitos riding equally old junkers, rastas on cruisers at the beach, kids bouncing on BMX bikes with pegs, and MTBs galore. Here, the endangered specimen is the skinny-jeaned hipster skidding tributes to the Costa Rican equivalent of Joseph Gordon Levitt. Behavioral patterns differ by region, but general preferences include front baskets, unlocked bikes for short stays, lights and reflective suspenders, and the occasional helmet around your wrist (strange, I know – but let’s not get into that debate again). The lock of preference is a piece of heavy-duty chain and a keyed padlock. Just more proof that any bike can be a great commuter.
As bikeless we may be for the time being, boyfriend and I have been getting around by foot until I can get my paws on my friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s sister’s banana seat bike (if my Spanish translation is correct, I think that’s who I’m waiting on). We are staying up a pretty steep hill, about a 25 minute walk from town. Oooh, my legs would be in killer shape with this daily climb! Our “hill” is known as Volcan Turrialba – apparently she’s legit – since today we saw MTB riders barreling down the hill during “the world’s toughest mountain bike race” - La Ruta de Los Conquistadores. I should’ve entered the race and brought a folder in my checked bags (hint, hint!) Well, there’s always next year!