Tag Archive: Costa Rica

Friday Musings: Skunk Stripe

skunk stripe

The common variety of this bike commuter species is known as a "Skunk Stripe"

Buenos días de Costa Rica once again lindisimos Bike Commuters! In honor of Friday and my stream of consciousness blog-barfing, I decided to muse on the unusual phenomenon that is the Skunk Stripe – prevalent throughout the downhill aguacero commutes of Turrialbeños.  As I am (gasp!) shamefully still bikeless for over a month now, I’ve been forced to commute by foot.  However, I’ve turned each bout of foot commuting into an opportunity to practice my new hobby… Similar to the popular hobby of bird watching (a.k.a. “birding” for short), I like to call my newfound sidewalk speculation bike watching (a.k.a. “biking”).

bike watching

Bike Watching - on the lookout for Skunk Stripes!

In my biking adventures here Ive spotted a resurgence of skunk stripe bikes in this rainy season! It seems that fenders here area luxury not afforded by most Turrialbeños… Other varieties of skunk stripes can be seen migrating through the Central Valley this winter such as the yellow-tail poncho, and the umbrella crest.

Bike rider in yellow raincoat

Costa Rican Yellow-tail poncho bike spotted by flostof.

Bike and Umbrella, Costa Rica

And the Umbrella Crest variety captured by gimblett.

We’ve reviewed quite a few different types of fenders on our site, (see herehere, and even here for rooster tails).  So let’s put together a basic breakdown of all things fender fantastic for any rookie winter riders – ticos or otherwise- who want to say adios to the skunk stripe.  Let the winter bike commuting begin!
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DIY Fenders – for the third world countryman in you!

For those of us with more time than dimes, check out Ghost Rider’s DIY po-boy Fender project here.  DIY Fenders can be customized to fit your needs and can washed away that skunk stripe with some bent aluminum, corrugated plastic, a can of spray paint.  This tutorial is a great option for some road bikes that don’t come with fender mounts built into the frame.

Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender

Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender

Clip-on Fenders – great for muddy commutes

Clip-on fenders could be a good option for muddy commutes or bikes without fender mounts build into the frame.  The idea is to protect the rider from the water or mud from the top of the bike: front fender can mount via the steer tube and rear fender can mount via the seat tube.  Since there is plenty of clearance between a clip-on fender and the wheel, you won’t have a problem with mud jamming up underneath.  Prices can range between $20 -$50 for a set.  They also make removable clip-ons like these in case you’d like to groom your fender plume regularly.  To do away with the skunk stripe on your roadie, take a look at this article for other clip-on options.

clip-on fenders

rendoza's commuter clip-on fender setup

Full-Coverage Fenders – staying high and dry

Full coverage fenders get the best coverage for any rider who is encountering lots of rain this season.  They mount onto fender stays that are usually built in to the frame of touring, hybrid, or bike frames targeted towards utility cycling.  I used to commuter on my Kona Dew with a pair of yellow planet bike full fenders.  They kept me dry through the Seattle winter and I was never caught with a skunk stripe like those tricksy hipsterses on fenderless fixies…  The only problem with full fenders is they can require frequent adjustments to keep from rubbing on the wheel – if you will be cramming your bike into car trunks or cinching the front wheel on a bus rack, you may be better off with the clip-ons and wet legs.

Raiyn Storms fender setup

Raiyn Storm's full-on fender setup

So, dear Bike Commuters, do you rock the skunk or do you skip the stripe with a pair of fenders?  Why or why not?  Post to the comments box if you have any DIY tips for readers, or other fender ideas to share…!  Muse on and enjoy your weekend!

Bicicletas in Costa Rica

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Bike Commuting in Limon, CR by tomac1978 via flickr

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!)

costa rica jmam RINCON DE LA VIEJA bici

DIY heavy loads in Costa Rica, image courtesy of jmam flickr

All throughout Costa Rica, if I’m riding in a car longer than 15 minutes, I pop Dramamine like Smarties out of a Halloween pillowcase.  Why? You ask?  Because I like the taste, want an excuse to sleep, or heard that it gives you powers of telepathy?!!!  Nope.  After ditching my sedan in Seattle back in 2008, my motion sickness tolerance has dwindled down to zero.  It’s front seat/windows down for me, or puke party for everyone else.  To put icing on the cake of said party, many of the roads in CR seem as if they recently hosted a parade for the Olympic Jackhammer Riding Team (sponsored by Trits).  Potholes, gravel, streams, small ponds, and unpaved dirt-rock is where it’s at, peeps.  The lack of a functioning railroad system pushes trucking as the #1 means of transporting goods about the country, damaging the any newly-paved asphalt along the way.

Rastabici - I snapped this one in Puerto Viejo by the beach. Breakfast in the basket!

Another interesting fact I picked up from my Tico hosts, is that cars cost DOUBLE* the price they do in the USA; apparently the import taxes are enormous.  So, as I mentioned before – not driving is not a lifestyle choice, most residents take the bus, walk, or ride bikes because.  Insurance will put a hole in your pocket like the potholes put a hole in your tires.  And gas isn’t cheap either – at least 60 USD to fill the tank on our loaner Toyota Rav4.  The bus is a steal, about 50 cents a ride in town, and for about two US dollars you can take the express bus all the way to the capital of San Jose… But what about the bicicletas in Costa Rica?

Woman on a bike in Quepos, CR - image courtesy of Boston Gringo flickr.

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.

ale y sofi en bici

Beach cruisers 'n' baskets - no helmets, no locks - in Puerto Viejo, image courtesy of Jem Kuhn flickr.

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!

CR 2012 sand postcard

Hasta Luego, Cycle Ladies and Gents!