Costa Rica has been a superb country to tour on a mountain bike (writing this from Panama). It´s possible to cycle from the Peña Blanca border (Nicaragua) and cross over the Continental Divide to the Carribean border (Panama) spending 95% of your time on quiet (steep!) back country dirt and paved roads with nearly zero traffic. With places like the Nicoya pensinsular and a fantastic route nicely mapped out by the tough annual´La Ruta de las Conquistadores´race from Jaco (Pacific) to Puerto Limón (Atlantic / Carribean) it is easy to find quiet dirt roads to yourself. However, expect to pay the price in sweat with long steep ups and downs through a variety of climates ranging from extremely hot at lower altitudes to cold drizzling rain near the summits of peaks such as Irazú Volcano (3,432m) which you can ride all the way to the top.
Costa Rica´s riding potential became apparent 20km from the border almost immediately after the small town of La Cruz. After our torturous cross country experiences in Nicaragua, Eric and I headed down to Bahía Salinas followed by an excursion around Volcán Rincón de la Vieja and down to Liberia before heading down to the Nicoya Peninsular (next post). Up until the Nicoya, we more or less followed a route taken a few years back by the inspirational Cass Gilbert from whileoutriding.com. Well photographed and documented here.
Having climbed back up out of the Bahias we had a short stretch on the Panamerican Highway before a long ascent up over the saddle that joins Volcán Orosi and Volcán Rincón de la Vieja. Heading round the back of the volcano we enjoyed some superb mountain biking before camping late under a roof in a ranger station 7 km before Colonia Libertad.