QuickPeek: Late start. Hills. Rain. Border crossing.

It has been many weeks without loaded touring, I had hardly ridden 4 days, loaded, in the past 2 + months, the time had been filled with either extreme lethargy, hiking or farm work. So the body was feeling well rested but fit and I was ready to hit the road. But loaded touring is a bitch, she remembers every lapse and avenges at every opportunity.

Today was a town day at the farm and since most of us were heading into town, I decided to join them too. That meant, my start was to be delayed till 9 am. That’s a lot of sunlight lost, given that it usually starts to rain after 1 pm these days. Ah well, I hoped I might get across the border and get some distance in, anyway.

After bidding farewell to Kristy and Krista, who had decided to stay a couple more days at the farm, we headed on out. The first little hill was a kick in my pants. My legs had nothing in them, they felt like jello, I had to get down and push, Ouch. I’d end up pushing thro another 3 hills before I hit San Vito. Dang. Of course, this was a tough hill to ride loaded with a few 12% grades along the way. But still, I was surprised by the lack of muscles.

Once at San Vito, we bumped into Fernando, a local shaman in training and a cool chap and it was nice to catch him before leaving this place. After a quick coconut stop, I bid farewell to the Los Patos crew of David, Tayler and Ruben and started on my way. The route out to Sabalito had a couple of small hills, but otherwise was a nice quiet ride over rolling hills.

It had started to rain even before we got to San Vito and I was bracing myself for a long day in the rain. It spat on and off all along the way and after I took the turnoff from Sabalito into the gravel road, it started to pour buckets. I sorely missed my rain pants (lost in the unsuccessful theft). They had been extremely effective to keep the wind and the cold away, instead I was soaking slowly and my toes started to get a bit of chill in them too.

The gravel road was ok to ride in, not too terrible, but the rain made it sticky and a bit of a workout indeed. By the time I got to the frontier at Rio Serreno, I was pretty spent. It was about 12 ish and I was still hopeful of getting some more distance in.

The border crossing was a bit funny, the immigration offices looked ridiculous, temporary shelters were setup and it was a steep climb up to the Costa Rica check point. The guy who was supposed to collect the exit tax had decided to take off and I had to walk down to a nearby shop with computer to pay the tax. Duh. The officer didn’t know if he should let me out of CR since I didn’t have an exit ticket from Panama. I had to show him my bike, but he decided to walk up to consult with the Panamanian office before stamping me out.

The Panama side was funny too. When I got there, they didn’t have power and so I had to wait an hour or so while the guy tried to talk with another border to check the validity of my passport. Heh. After a while, he eventually stamped me in. Awesome. Both offices were really helpful of course, but I thought the procedure was just hilarious.

But by this time, I was starting to freeze in my wet clothes and it was almost 3 pm. (time zone changed while crossing the border). The sky still looked ominous and the next town was about 40 km and 1200m climb away. I figured I might have better luck starring in the morning and decided to stay in the border town. It’s not something I’d do, but the place was chilled out enough and the hotel I enquired at offered me a room at 10$ instead of the regular 15.

First thing I did was to get me a pair of waterproofs from the hardware store (it’s just plastic, but it’s ok in rain as long as it’s not freezing I reckon). I found a nice place to eat lunch too. It was a huge portion of rice for 3$, I guess after going thro Costa Rica, the prices looked pretty cheap indeed.

A real short day, even by my standards, but one has to start somewhere eh.

Track Notes

Route: Los Angeles de Limoncito (Costa Rica) to Rio Sorreno (Panama)
Distance: 27.3 Km
Road: Good roads till Sabalito. Gravel from Sabalito to Rio Serreno
Traffic: Light
Services: San Vito and Sabalito are pretty well stocked. So is Rio Serreno. Easy to reapply at any place.
Expenses: SG$ 50.23
Comments: Felt a bit harder than the first day out of Vanvouver BC.