costa rica riding tips

Costa Rica & Dirt Bikes: My Riding Trip WIth Costa Rica Unlimited

I love dirt bikes.  I love Costa Rica.  When I found out about a tour company doing dirt bike tours there, I decided it was on!  I was doing it, no matter the cost.  So I gave them a buzz and started making arrangements.  Their tours are predominantly intended to be used as a tour with a group of 4 or more riders, but getting 4 people on the same wave length, at the same time, who could afford the trip was not an option.  So the guys that operate the tour, Terry Beal & Chris Killbride, told me about a tour with Ronnie Renner the first week of April 2017.  I was a sold.  It was $3,000 for 5 nights and 4 days of riding.  It included lunch and breakfast, bikes, accommodations at their compound, gear cleaning, pick up from the airport in San Jose Costa Rica, and some cookies.

I was picked up at the airport, and met up with the a few of the other guys on the trip.  The trek from the airport to the Costa Rica Unlimited compound just south of Jaco was 1.5 hours – but I already knew that cause I had been to the country a time or two before.  Towards the end of the trek we had to climb up some steep mountain roads to reach the place.  Now these aren’t your typical United states mountain roads.  These are steep ass, poorly paved, washed out mountain roads.  Once we got to the top of the hill, down winding road we made it to the compound and I got to meet everyone else.  In total there was Ronnie Renner himself, myself, and 7 other dudes that I had never met before.  Initially I was a bit concerned that not everyone would be cool, but everyone was cool.  And so were the staff.  The whole place definitely at a moto bro vibe.  Lots of shit talking an bullshitting, but it was cool.  And there were cookies.

San Jose airport pick up and drop off for Renner Loose Program Costa Rica Unlimited Tour

The compound, sat high up in the hills at the end of some very steep roads just south of Jaco Costa Rica.  The entrance was near the top of the mountain so when you turned in, you had a steep descent So high you needed a 4×4 to get here  and had 3 houses.  A large main house called The Point House, and 2 smaller ones.  The Point House had excellent views of Playa Hermosa down below and all the bedrooms had AC.  The smaller houses were more surrounded by jungle, certainly a nice jungle atmosphere, but no AC.  The places had hot water, but in the Point House it wasn’t hot for very long.  You would get about 3 minutes of hot water in total and then it would cool down.  The beds were OK, but certainly not great.  Wifi was available in the all the houses but it was slow, barely reaching 500KBS, so I was happy to have an international plan on my cell phone.  There was a nice outdoor patio with hammock chairs for relaxing and the living rooms were open and engaging.  Even with 12 people or so at the compound, there was enough ‘space’ for everyone to do their own thing.  All in all the place was good by Costa Rica standards, but if you want 5 star it wasn’t here.  I would certainly stay here again, if I were on the tour or if I were looking for a ‘get away from it all’.  You can book the Point House for rental without a moto tour here.

The Costa Rica Unlimited Compound & The Point House.

The bikes were pretty nice.  They had about 30 bikes in total.  Yamaha WR 250s and 450s, and KTM 250s 350s and 450s.  Costa Rica is a really wet place, with nasty mud, and salt air which is a nightmare for anything mechanical.  Being tour bikes they hit the ground a lot and get abused hard.  Considering that, they were all pretty well taken care of.  Jetting / carb issues were common on the bikes I rode, but they weren’t bad enough to not be enjoyable.  If a bike did have issues, there were other bikes to take out.

The riding consisted of lot of fire roads which you could rip on, and then trails.  The trails were public easements between farms, and then were usually pretty wide, like wide enough to fit a quad through, but in many cases they were so washed out with rain ruts that there was only 1 rideable line.  The climbs were technical and rough, and you were usually stuck in a rain rut.  The down hills were tough too.  Lots of sliding around while  It was challenging stuff to ride, especially for someone who had never ridden on real mountains.

Here’s what happened, day by day:

Day 1: Get to airport.  Ride back to CRU house.

Night 1: Pick bikes.  I picked a Yamaha WR450F.  They had some KTM 250s 350s 450s and Yamaha 250s.  After bike pick we went to some restaurant down in Playa Hermosa.  Then we chilled around the hammocks, bullshitted (lots of bullshitting joking going on around the operator / host Chris)  and went to sleep.  But I couldn’t sleep too well cause I wanted to ride in the morning.

Day 2: Woke up.  Went for a run.  Everyone was shocked to see my ass in running shoes, running up the steep driveway out of the place, but wtf I like to run.  I like to run in the mountains.  I was up way before everyone, so I went for a run.  It was a really good run.  Then I came back.  The staff, aka Chris, made breakfast.  The breakfast was pretty simple,  Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, sausage, and some fruit.  It was basic, but good, and better than the quest bar I eat on a delay basis so no complaints.  Then we started riding.   It seemed like it was taking forever to get everyone ready to go.  We finally left and did some riding.  Around mid day we went stopped by a river then went to lunch at a local costa rican place. I had a hard time getting used to the dirt, and real mountains (id never been in the mountains on a moto bike) and the 450 was really kicking my ass up and down, so I decided the next day I would take a Yamaha 250.  The trails are all rather tight and technical so a 250 was really all that you need here

Night 2:  More hanging out around the compound, and I ate a cookie loaded down with THC, and we went to dinner.

Day 3: Woke up, ate breakfast (basically the same as the day before).  This day was quite a bit slower in pace.  We had some injuries on the trail and flat tire which slowed us down, so we didn’t cover much ground.  Then we stopped for lunch at Hotel Pelicano in Esterillos, and afterwards rode on the beach.

Night 3:  We went down to Jaco for dinner, and ended up at an Italian restaurant called Amancio’s.  I stayed sober but things started getting a little crazy.  One of the guys started singing with a street performer.  Some ‘street artist’ who makes things out of leaves on the spot, was paid to make us a phallus.  The phallus was then used as a microphone for story telling.  We were the loud obnoxious group at the restaurant.

Day 4: We began again with the breakfast, the same as every other day.  For riding though, we hit some serious trails with some nasty climbs.  It was by far the best day of riding and my riding was on point.  I was finally used to the mountains and dirt.  Throughout the day we made a few stops at various mountain streams where we could chill in the water, and even drink the water.  Others drank it, I did not.  I’ve watched enough episodes of naked and afraid to know what can happen when you drink jungle water.

Night 4: We went to the store, and got a bunch of meet and veggies, and then Ronnie Renner and 2 of the other guys cooked it up.  The food was damn good.  Then a handful went out to party in Jaco.  I skipped this excursion as I was really tired, and I generally can’t stay up late.

Day 5: Breakfast went downhill here and became cereal and milk.  Then we did some riding with a usual lunch stop at some small outfit way up in the mountains.  It was the last day of riding and it was over too soon… I was ju

Night 5:   This night we went to a woodfire grill restaurant way up in the mountains above Jaco.  The restaurant had a dirt floor and churned out some good food.  Although not as good as the food from my favorite place Georges Fireside Inn & Grill in Boquette.

Day 6:   Still a simple cereal breakfast and then a ride to the airport.  Bye bye Costa Rica.

The trip was nothing short of awesome.  It was some of the best days ever of my life.  I met a bunch of cool people and rode some awesome trails. I can’t wait to go back!

What could be improved: The beds.  Im a bit of light sleeper, so while they weren’t bad, a little more comfort would’ve been better.  Aside note; bring ear plugs if you don’t like hearing the chirping of frogs and other jungle critters.  Breakfast.  Come on Chris, cereal on the last 2 days?  Its not a deal breaker but a slight disappointment.

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Founder of a home service / specialty trade contracting company (think patio's and deck) with a focus on customer experience. Quantitative investor. Data driven marketer. Runner.

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