Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the world’s top destinations for cycling and mountain biking.
The annual Vuelta Ciclista a Costa Rica (Tour of Costa Rica) . The 12-day-long stage race is Costa Rica’s own version of the world-famous Tour de France, and has been steadily attracting international competitors over the past 40 years. The race crisscrosses the country across towering mountain ranges from sea level to more than 3,000 meters (nearly 10,000 feet high). Costa Rica’s own Jose Adrian Bonilla brought home the gold medal.
One of the most challenging and grueling mountain-bike races in the world is another annual competition in Costa Rica. Now 15 years in the running, La Ruta de los Conquistadores (the Route of the Conquerors) retraces the path of the 16th-century Spanish conquistadores, winding up 170 miles from the Pacific Coast across mountain ranges and volcanoes, and down again to the Caribbean Sea – all in just four days! The race usually takes place in November, and attracts hundreds of competitors from around the world.
If you’d like to try your own adventure, several local tour companies offer day tours. One of the more interesting is the Tropical Biking Tour from Explornatura in Turrialba, just an hour and a half from San Jose. The adventure tour takes you in and around the plantations and botanical gardens of the internationally renowned CATIE (the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center). The topography of the ride can be adapted to any level of bike rider, and you’ll delight in free-wheeling it through plantations of coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, citrus, plantains, bananas, macadamia trees, pineapple, mango and avocado trees.