Thursday, April 9, 2015

High Weight, High Rep Cycling, April 8-9

Our quiet abode in the woods behind, we began the long climb up to San Ramon.  Though the grades were insane- at least 10% on the majority of the hills- I rather liked going up.  When the hills add up to a view, rather than immediately descending, and the temperature gets cooler, and the valley stretches out under you... well, call me masochistic, but I like to climb!  The top of this mountain was shrouded in clouds, and as I had hoped the whole time we were ascending to reach them and have some respite from the heat, I was glad when the mists took over, their ethereal arms grasping the air and whipping it around.  Though there was no view, our bodies rejoiced in the coolness, and as we neared the top, an unexpected surprise materialized out of the fog: a cheese stand!  We stopped, of course, and tried the local products, which we found tasty and similar to the stringy Oaxaca Mexican cheese.
Just under the cloud layer

The short descent brought us to San Ramon, a small city with a nice little park.  We started talking with a guy named Oscar, who was friendly but turned out to be an incorrigible racist.  He told us with satisfaction how all the Nicaraguans and Guatemalans are very bad, very bad indeed, especially those indigenous folks, watch out for them!  We countered with equal delight that we had just come through those countries and had met a lot of wonderful people but none of those that he was referring to.  I would like to think that we changed his point of view, that maybe he'll see the Nicaraguans in a different light now, but realistically, I doubt it.  It's tough to internalize the experiences of others.

After our chat with Oscar, we headed out to the fire station, where we asked if they might let us camp in their yard.  The firemen, the bomberos, showed us around and were so incredibly welcoming, even to the point that they apologized for not being able to offer us a bed!  We made them cookies as thanks (Tam made them cookies as I excitedly hovered and managed not to mess anything up).
Massive cookie, shape open to interpretation 

I was planning today on a long descent to the ocean.  I could not have been more wrong.  The hills were so numerous and so steep that we had to take breathers every few hundred yards to rest our tired legs, and the downhills, equally steep and equally challenging for our cramping hands and burning rims, provided enough excitement for the rest of the day.  And this wasn't even the stretch the bomberos had warned us about; that was next.  Or, it would have been next, but we chose the road more traveled instead, the big toll road.  Bikes aren't technically allowed on the toll roads, but that's never stopped us before, and we didn't have a problem today.  The descent from there was as I had imagined it originally, all the way down to the ocean after crossing a bridge and counting over 30 crocodiles in the river below.  I'll be doing all my swimming in salt water from now on.

Though the heat was as oppressive as ever, we gradually made our way south and ended up in the town of Jaco, where, after swimming in our own sweat for the last five hours, we couldn't bear to spend a noisy, sweaty night in the tent and found an inexpensive hotel that inexplicably offered air conditioning!  I've found my limit of discomfort, and it is sweating all day and all night.
Our location in Jaco.  We're going to follow the coast south over the next few days.

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