One of the easiest ways to take in a lot of nature in a short period of time is to go mountain biking in Costa Rica. The hundreds of kilometers of paths and dirt roads that crisscross the country are perfect mountain bike routes. The roads and paths are all public highways so you can use them whenever you fancy. In some of the more remote areas however, you may have to share the road with the occasional livestock herd or iguana.
Intermediate to advanced level riders will be able to traverse the country at their leisure and enjoy breathtaking beaches, stunning mountain vistas, coffee plantations, volcanoes, rivers and ecological reserves. Most airlines only charge a small fee to transport bikes so bringing your own gear is, by far, more economical than renting. You also have the added benefit of using gear that is familiar. If you are only planning to ride for part of your vacation and can’t be bothered with your bike the whole time, there are plenty of places to rent both a mountain bike and equipment.
Those of you that have not been on a bike since 6th grade needn’t worry. Many of the trails are meant for motorized vehicle traffic and are, therefore, relatively undemanding technically. It should be noted that although there are many trails that are relatively flat, some can be quite hilly as little can be done to smooth out the mountains. If you are unsure of your level of fitness, it is a good idea to do a few test runs at home before you sign up for an adventure ride down the side of a mountain. Your fitness will improve rapidly with relatively few sessions on the bike so if you are bent on a high mountain experience, it is not completely out of reach.
There are almost an inordinate number of places from which you can rent equipment and join a guided group to go mountain biking in Costa Rica. Although it is fun to explore on your own, it is prudent to remember that the jungle is home to half a million species, not all of which are plant eaters. Guided tours are well tailored to your cycling ability to ensure optimum enjoyment. They often include a packed lunch and snacks in with the price as well as a visit to a secluded swimming hole or hot springs.
The majority of the mountain biking guided tours in Costa Rica are one day treks of about 30-50km based from San Jose. The Irazu and Poas volcanoes and the awe-inspiring Orosi Valley are all within a day’s journey. It is also possible to arrange two or three day trips that take you from the mountains to the Pacific coast. Tour operators will often book your accommodation for you on one of the popular Pacific beach spots… the perfect place to unwind after two days of cycling.