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  1. #1
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    Idea! Marla Streb Says: No singletrack in Costa Rica

    Although Ive posted several times that Costa Rica has no singletrack despite the Conquistadores Race fame, I always get the "you dont know what youre talking about" comment by proud nationals. So Im finally glad to say, one of the industry's finest, Marla Streb is saying just that -there might be lots of riders in this country but no singletrack to speak of.


    Tuesday, November 29, 2005
    The Rare and Elusive Costa Rican Singletrack
    Been hanging out with a local pro mountain biker down here in Costa Rica.

    "Rom" has lived here all his life, save the first year or two. Here on the southern tip of the Nicoya Penisula in Pachote, a tiny village alongside the estuary that feeds into the Bahia de Ballera.

    At this year's La Ruta, Rom placed 12th. I easily spotted him at last year's race. There aren't too many 6 foot blond haired Ticos. Rom has just started getting into race promotion in the area, and he has one coming up this weekend where he's trying to attract the big racing teams and maybe some foreigners.

    For the past few weeks, Rom has been showing me all the cool places to ride, all the while coaching me on the various trees and critters along the way. Waterfalls, secluded beaches, deep and dark primary forests, views from the top of peaks that rival any in the Bay Area.

    But only accessible on what we gringos would call 'fire roads'. Pretty rutted, eroded, steep and overgrown fire roads, but still technically not quite singletrack.

    I had to explain to one of the best mountain bikers in the country what singletrack is. He simply couldn't fathom that you can build a narrow trail onto a ridiculously steep slope, and still make it up in your middle chainring. I told him about the twisting, snaking ride you get as you corner every tree, and pump every roller. Vines to duck and kickers to hit can be built into the design.

    Rom's smile grew as I gushed.

    On the mainland up near the Arenal volcano, I've heard there is some good riding on the hiking and cow trails. But they can be quite muddy 9 months out of the year so the singletrack season is brief.

    Rom is excited about the idea of singletrack coming to the Nicoya penisula. It's still jungly and full of wildlife, but a lot drier. I assured Rom that if the trails are built, they will come.

    posted by marla streb at 8:48 AM
    http://mtbike.mountainzone.com/blogs/marla_streb/

  2. #2
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    Kind of what happens in Mexico at some areas.... doesn't surprise me.

    Vegetation grows too fast or rain erodes trails so fast that you just can't expect singletrack to last.

    But again, you don't miss much the singletrack with some trails we have here.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    But again, you don't miss much the singletrack with some trails we have here.
    But we rode a nice section on Sunday!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    Kind of what happens in Mexico at some areas.... doesn't surprise me.

    Vegetation grows too fast or rain erodes trails so fast that you just can't expect singletrack to last.

    But again, you don't miss much the singletrack with some trails we have here.
    warpito, what are you talkn about? singletrack doesnt grow out of the blue to then disappear! it has to be made. if it does exist rain doesnt make it disappear, voila, like magic!

    theres little to no singletrack here and the riders are so not used to it since all they ride is fireroads that when they hit the singletrack weve built, it kicks their @ss!

    from the pics youve posted it seems your double tracks are more fun and challenging than the fireroads people ride on over here.....

  5. #5
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    The geography in CR is awesome, lots of mountains, woods, rain forest cloud forest, if trails are build and maintained they are the best.

    People here are just not interested in riding single track and making the effort and expense to build trails.
    They have the "Ruta " mentallity, just fire roads and long distances, for them must be fine, for me boring.
    Luckily a very small group of friends and I fixed this and we have build one of the best trail systems I have ridden.
    I have ridden in a few places in South America, USA and Europe and our trails are with the best.

    In the end is not the geography but people not interested and not knowing what they are missing.

  6. #6
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    I'm skeptical. When I lived in the Caribbean there was quite a bit of singletrack. You just had to work to find it. The easiest ways were to identify points between which there had to be traffic but where there wasn't a road. Two villages that were pretty close together almost always had foot traffic between them, as did the cleanest shot from a village up in the hills down to the main roads.

    Not saying it was all buff or even rideable singletrack, but it was there.
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wooglin
    I'm skeptical. When I lived in the Caribbean there was quite a bit of singletrack. You just had to work to find it. The easiest ways were to identify points between which there had to be traffic but where there wasn't a road. Two villages that were pretty close together almost always had foot traffic between them, as did the cleanest shot from a village up in the hills down to the main roads.

    Not saying it was all buff or even rideable singletrack, but it was there.
    its not even a matter of whether some of its there...the fact is mtbikers here will take a fireroad any day over technical singletrack. in fact you see plenty of riders in dual suspension bikes riding next to road bikes on the freeway! what a way to put suspension through its paces!

  8. #8
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    Its not just Costa Rica...

    There are very few places in the world that have enough open land and enough people willing to build and maintain a trail network like there is to be found in North America. Please dont get all bent out of shape all you non North Americans out there, I am not bashing riding outside the States and Canada nor am I saying there are no good trails in other parts of the world. Its just that I have been living in Europe the past three years and there is just not so many open spaces that are condusive to building new trails. Even in areas like the Alps many of the trails are very old. There is certainly lots of good riding around the world but not so much of it is going to be singletrack like you find in N. America.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    its not even a matter of whether some of its there...the fact is mtbikers here will take a fireroad any day over technical singletrack. in fact you see plenty of riders in dual suspension bikes riding next to road bikes on the freeway! what a way to put suspension through its paces!
    I was responding to your original post, which says that there's no singletrack. I agree that you're right on the perceptions. I had a really hard time finding footpaths because no one could understand why I'd want to go that way. If I asked for directions the locals would invariably give me a driveable route. They just had a complete mental disconnect at the thought of some "tourist" wandering around in the bush.
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  10. #10
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    I agree with you partially....

    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    warpito, what are you talkn about? singletrack doesnt grow out of the blue to then disappear! it has to be made. if it does exist rain doesnt make it disappear, voila, like magic!

    theres little to no singletrack here and the riders are so not used to it since all they ride is fireroads that when they hit the singletrack weve built, it kicks their @ss!

    from the pics youve posted it seems your double tracks are more fun and challenging than the fireroads people ride on over here.....
    It is correct that there is no (or almost none) singletrack in CR, however Warp is right in the sense that in a weather like CR's a singletrack without constant maintenance/traffic would dissapear fast.

    I know the guys back home tend to ride fireroad, like from rancho de Macho to Quitirrici or near Universidad para la Paz. However your first post states "if you build it they will come". If more people learn how interesting singletrack can be, and people get organized, there could be some great locations to build it.

    Regarding the coments about FS bikes on the highway, I know that some dudes actually do that, while most just bike their way to the trails instead of driving to a trailhead.

    I have come to appreciate what well maintained trails are here in Germany (during my studies), because of the great Forest Service. If we had the resources back home to have so many people working on preserving the forest and bikers putting in hours to maintain trails, it would be awesome. However I think it would be better to help the cause and not just complain about it.

    Pura vida!

    Cheers,
    Cris

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    warpito, what are you talkn about? singletrack doesnt grow out of the blue to then disappear! it has to be made. if it does exist rain doesnt make it disappear, voila, like magic!

    theres little to no singletrack here and the riders are so not used to it since all they ride is fireroads that when they hit the singletrack weve built, it kicks their @ss!

    from the pics youve posted it seems your double tracks are more fun and challenging than the fireroads people ride on over here.....
    Agreed with Crisillo... see, I'm not talking about the real forest areas. There the rain season and the very disctinct seasons make easy to make a "mule path" and keep it alive.

    Not the same with the RAIN FOREST or semi-jungle areas at some places of North, Central and South America. In this areas you have rain and heat all year long and maintaining a trail in such conditions would imply opening a breach wide enough that it hardly be considered singletrack anymore. Otherwise, the Sierra or jungle will just swallow it.

    Yeah, it would not be destroyed in one day... but the damage is done daily and trail care gotta be constant. Not to mention the perils of doing trail maintenance there (mosquitos, poisonous animals and insects, not-do-friendly locals, etc.).

    I'm not saying it can't be done, it's just very, very difficult.

    Are really our doubletracks mor challenging than the singletrack there?? Wow... who knew?!

    Fortunately... we have a little of everything. As Tigerdog correclty stated, we rode a very cool singletrack last sunday!!
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  12. #12
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    No good

    [QUOTE=crisillo "if you build it they will come"[/QUOTE]
    not true at all. how many times do i have to repeat myself on this forum...we have built them and they came in very partial numbers. the problem then was these TICOS dont want to pay for anything. by that i mean our group of five has spent over US$3000 building these trails and those that do want to come dont want to spend anything. We charge those that do want to come a meager $8 that goes into trailbuilding and maintenance, not our pockets and people dont see the value in whats been created and wont pay so thats that.

  13. #13
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    Maybe you need to get the word out...

    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    "if you build it they will come"
    not true at all. how many times do i have to repeat myself on this forum...we have built them and they came in very partial numbers. the problem then was these TICOS dont want to pay for anything. by that i mean our group of five has spent over US$3000 building these trails and those that do want to come dont want to spend anything. We charge those that do want to come a meager $8 that goes into trailbuilding and maintenance, not our pockets and people dont see the value in whats been created and wont pay so thats that.

    I agree that not everybody will appreciate your hard work, but maybe you should try to get the word out, by having some event or something like that. How long is the singletrack? Where is it? (I would like to go try it out next time I am back home ;-) ) It might be that you need exposure..... I know that most guys riding MTBs in CR have the money to pay.. however the one's that are tight for money might not be able to do it. There might be other ways to get funding, so that not everything is passed along to the bikers, don't know... just thinking outloud....

    I was just trying to give some suggestions, no critisism meant.

    Cheers,
    Cris
    Last edited by crisillo; 12-15-2005 at 07:19 AM. Reason: typo

  14. #14
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    singletrack

    I can verify that I have never been to Costa Rica. In fact, singletrack has never been seen outside of North America.

  15. #15
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    Second that

    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    however Warp is right in the sense that in a weather like CR's a singletrack without constant maintenance/traffic would dissapear fast.
    When I was over in Japan, there were lots of ancient singletrack that stayed there because they have a large culture of hiking. Some of the less poplular trails would nearly disappear and require lots of debrushing within a few months due to the high rate of rainfall induced flora growth. The worst ones were the MTB favored trails that were downright dangerous to ride during the rainy season. We would go to hit them once things dried out and would have to look hard to find them.

  16. #16
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    Second that

    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    however Warp is right in the sense that in a weather like CR's a singletrack without constant maintenance/traffic would dissapear fast.
    When I was over in Japan, there were lots of ancient singletrack that stayed there because they have a large culture of hiking. Some of the less poplular trails would nearly disappear and require lots of debrushing within a few months due to the high rate of rainfall induced flora growth. The worst ones were the MTB favored trails that were downright dangerous to ride during the rainy season. We would go to hit them once things dried out and would have to look hard to find them.

  17. #17
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    Hope

    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    I agree that not everybody will appreciate your hard work, but maybe you should try to get the word out, by having some event or something like that. How long is the singletrack? Where is it? (I would like to go try it out next time I am back home ;-) ) It might be that you need exposure..... I know that most guys riding MTBs in CR have the money to pay.. however the one's that are tight for money might not be able to do it. There might be other ways to get funding, so that not everything is passed along to the bikers, don't know... just thinking outloud....

    I was just trying to give some suggestions, no critisism meant.

    Cheers,
    Cris
    first of all, i remember quite clearly from last december you asking directions to our trails and got no response from you when i said you could only go with us and gave you my phone #.

    weve got about 20kms of techinical trail built with wooden structures, etc. and no, we dont need funding, weve done this all by ourselves and the trails keep growing and getting better, notwithstanding the rain and vegetation growth.

    one of the guys in our group rides in sponsor-built trails in Ohio every year and he says this is wayyyy better.

    those who know what weve done just dont want to pay a meager dollar to help fund the project and most just dont appreciate it because all they can ride and know how to ride are fireroads. Im talking about people with $3000+ bikes that travel abroad.

    also, you guys (Warp included) dont know what weve done, so dont talk like you have any authority. reminds me of that Mexican guy that came to our trails with a friend of a friend couple of weeks ago. brought his bike down from Mexico and kept talking about how great he was. needless to say, he bonked less than a mile into the ride.

    hopefully MarlaS will drop by some time and give her comments.....

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    first of all, i remember quite clearly from last december you asking directions to our trails and got no response from you when i said you could only go with us and gave you my phone #.

    weve got about 20kms of techinical trail built with wooden structures, etc. and no, we dont need funding, weve done this all by ourselves and the trails keep growing and getting better, notwithstanding the rain and vegetation growth.

    one of the guys in our group rides in sponsor-built trails in Ohio every year and he says this is wayyyy better.

    those who know what weve done just dont want to pay a meager dollar to help fund the project and most just dont appreciate it because all they can ride and know how to ride are fireroads. Im talking about people with $3000+ bikes that travel abroad.

    also, you guys (Warp included) dont know what weve done, so dont talk like you have any authority. reminds me of that Mexican guy that came to our trails with a friend of a friend couple of weeks ago. brought his bike down from Mexico and kept talking about how great he was. needless to say, he bonked less than a mile into the ride.

    hopefully MarlaS will drop by some time and give her comments.....
    Jaco... don't blow it out of proportion.

    You should have started by... "me and a crew are building trails at...." and I should have stood and applaud you for doing so.

    Particularly, I don't own a $3000 bike. I don't like to pay for riding. I'm no authority but I've lived in diverse areas of my country which is enough to understand the differences between all the micro-environments found in Mexico.

    From this very particular experience, I've found that building and maintaining trails at forestal areas is much easier than at jungle like areas. If you have made trail at the jungle with stairs, ladders and such... congratulations!!! Thanks to you and your crew now CR has 20km of singletrack trails!!!

    Now if you ask me, 20 km is huge for a person or non-sposored organization and I applaud your efforts. It's just that 20km of trails is just a section of the singletrack we made last sunday.

    Tigerdog has been here and some other places in the world and he finds that there are less singletracks here than the US, for example. And we have ridden much more than 20km. So don't be surprised if people find CR's singletrack scarce.

    From experience, most people don't like to pay. I don't like to pay for riding. And would you lower your fees, maybe you would be able to get more people on the trail and eventually keep the singletrack open all year long so you wouldn't need to make as much maintenance regarding vegetation, which is the most of the work.

    In Mexico 8 dolars is close to 90 pesos... a lot for 20kms on any given sunday. I don't want to think how much is that in Colones. But I figure is too much for locals. It doesn't matter if they ride 3000 bucks bikes or 200 dollar bikes.

    Keep your good efforts on! Seriously, please take this as a constructive and positive criticism and not like a senseless bash.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    Jaco... don't blow it out of proportion.

    You should have started by... "me and a crew are building trails at...." and I should have stood and applaud you for doing so.

    Particularly, I don't own a $3000 bike. I don't like to pay for riding. I'm no authority but I've lived in diverse areas of my country which is enough to understand the differences between all the micro-environments found in Mexico.

    From this very particular experience, I've found that building and maintaining trails at forestal areas is much easier than at jungle like areas. If you have made trail at the jungle with stairs, ladders and such... congratulations!!! Thanks to you and your crew now CR has 20km of singletrack trails!!!

    Now if you ask me, 20 km is huge for a person or non-sposored organization and I applaud your efforts. It's just that 20km of trails is just a section of the singletrack we made last sunday.

    Tigerdog has been here and some other places in the world and he finds that there are less singletracks here than the US, for example. And we have ridden much more than 20km. So don't be surprised if people find CR's singletrack scarce.

    From experience, most people don't like to pay. I don't like to pay for riding. And would you lower your fees, maybe you would be able to get more people on the trail and eventually keep the singletrack open all year long so you wouldn't need to make as much maintenance regarding vegetation, which is the most of the work.

    In Mexico 8 dolars is close to 90 pesos... a lot for 20kms on any given sunday. I don't want to think how much is that in Colones. But I figure is too much for locals. It doesn't matter if they ride 3000 bucks bikes or 200 dollar bikes.

    Keep your good efforts on! Seriously, please take this as a constructive and positive criticism and not like a senseless bash.
    We pay $400 a month, for this trails just to maintain an build new sections
    but is only 5 of us and no more people support, if there were 50 people at $8 a month each will be great, we tried recruiting more people, but most people have the same mentallity you have that they dont want to pay, so they rather ride the dirt roads for free.

    Explain to me why you dont like to pay? I want to understand this mentallity.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by motoadve
    We pay $400 a month, for this trails just to maintain an build new sections
    but is only 5 of us and no more people support, if there were 50 people at $8 a month each will be great, we tried recruiting more people, but most people have the same mentallity you have that they dont want to pay, so they rather ride the dirt roads for free.

    Explain to me why you dont like to pay? I want to understand this mentallity.
    In my case, I don't want to put words into anybody's else mouth...

    Firstly... beacuse I don't have the money.
    Would I have it, I'd pay it.

    Second... I don't have the time.
    Would I have it, I'd give it.

    8 bucks a month I'd pay them. Happily.

    Eight bucks a ride... that's another ticket. For 32 bucks a month I'd already had put new grips and upgraded some cheap parts of my bike. 32 bucks a month would had already given me enough money in a year to buy a new fork. I have done neither of those two things because my money goes to my family and not my bike or riding.

    Also... you have to consider if people values the riding experience. When asked if I prefer singletrack to fireroads, I'd take the singletrack.... but when you have to pay for the singletrack and the fireroad is rough enough, twisty enough and free, you don't have too much of a choice.

    I don't remember going thru much singletrack when I was youger at my hometwon. I lived from my parents and got basically no money to ride. If I had to choose from not riding for lack of funds to riding fireroads, don't you wonder what would I had chosen?

    Don't get me wrong. As I said, would I have the time and resources, I'd spend more time up the mountain giving a little back to it.

    At our area, some guys built some stunts (ladders and such)... I have never heard that they charge for riding them. It took them quite a long time, but now the stunts are being used.

    In SOME cases, it's the lack of use (or restriction of use) that makes the trails to need more maintenance. Some food for thought.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    In my case, I don't want to put words into anybody's else mouth...

    Firstly... beacuse I don't have the money.
    Would I have it, I'd pay it.

    .

    Thats the difference you would pay.!!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by motoadve
    Thats the difference you would pay.!!

    Keep the good fight up, guys. Don't feel discouraged. Give good thought to all the criticisms, even the bad intentioned and stupid ones... and you'll prosper in singletrack. I hope you get the respect and recognition you deserve.

    My company is working currently at Costa Rica... pipeline from coast to coast. Don't ask where (From Limon to La Garita??)... too bad I'm not involved in noon of the projects that visit Central America. Otherwise, I'd put my 8 bucks for ride!!!
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  23. #23
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    "It's just that 20km of trails is just a section of the singletrack we made last sunday"

    Oh really? the 20kms of singltrack were just a tiny bity portion of your ride? i wonder what kinda track that was. either the riding over there is relatively flat or youre superman.

    the ride we have here is 25-30kms and lasts 3 hrs, thats how intense it is. about 10kms per hr, 20-30kms/hr bombing downhill but only 4-7kms/hr going up. some uphill sections are and hour in length.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    "It's just that 20km of trails is just a section of the singletrack we made last sunday"

    Oh really? the 20kms of singltrack were just a tiny bity portion of your ride? i wonder what kinda track that was. either the riding over there is relatively flat or youre superman.

    the ride we have here is 25-30kms and lasts 3 hrs, thats how intense it is. about 10kms per hr, 20-30kms/hr bombing downhill but only 4-7kms/hr going up. some uphill sections are and hour in length.
    Jaco, our rides take place at the mountains around Mexico City. The city sits at 7200ft or 2200m... and from there you have to climb to leave the city, except towards Northeast. We ride at the Northwest of the city.

    Note that this area is all FOREST. Basically you have endless singeltrack. But the terrain is good for it. Not like my hometown where you're lucky to find just one km of singletrack.

    It not uncommon we hit 3000m of elevation and it's all a forestry area. At our crappy pace, it takes us around 1.5-2 hours to make a trip from the Trailhead to Espiritu Santo and more less the same back.

    We did ride about about 25km of just singletrack... while some other 8-10km were made on fireroads and doubletracks.

    The singletrack we did is just a part of the extense trail network at the Area. We choose to go from the Trailhead to Espiritu Santo and going back over the Discovery Trail. We could have choosen to do the Monolito, going up to the Penthouse, or simply made our way back thru the same forest trails we made.

    That's where we ride. Southbound the city there are at least two more riding areas. One with little singletrack (Desierto de los Leones) y one that has more singletrack (Ajusco) but not as extense as Chiluca and it's way higher in elevation and not as technical.

    Please don't get me wrong. I'm not making fun of your work or making it look like less. I repeat, I applaud you for your effort and dedication. As your trails keep growing, you'll gain more respect (you have all of mine) and recognition.

    No, I'm not fit. I'm no superman. And surely, I'd bonk in the first half hour at your place as I'm not used to workout in such hot and humid weather anymore and the mexican arsehole who you met, should have known better... you just can't f-up with such a weather+climbing. On the other hand... many visitors here bonk in a similar way because they're not used to the height of the city.

    I hope this settles the dust down. I'm not bashing on you, not making fun, I just expressed an opinion on why people thinks of it like "little" singletrack.

    Keep the good work on!!
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    Sorry...

    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    first of all, i remember quite clearly from last december you asking directions to our trails and got no response from you when i said you could only go with us and gave you my phone #.

    weve got about 20kms of techinical trail built with wooden structures, etc. and no, we dont need funding, weve done this all by ourselves and the trails keep growing and getting better, notwithstanding the rain and vegetation growth.

    one of the guys in our group rides in sponsor-built trails in Ohio every year and he says this is wayyyy better.

    those who know what weve done just dont want to pay a meager dollar to help fund the project and most just dont appreciate it because all they can ride and know how to ride are fireroads. Im talking about people with $3000+ bikes that travel abroad.

    also, you guys (Warp included) dont know what weve done, so dont talk like you have any authority. reminds me of that Mexican guy that came to our trails with a friend of a friend couple of weeks ago. brought his bike down from Mexico and kept talking about how great he was. needless to say, he bonked less than a mile into the ride.

    hopefully MarlaS will drop by some time and give her comments.....
    Please don't take it personal. I'm sorry if you feel I stood you up last december. I only got to ride with my dad one day during my 2 week visit. It was the first time my GF when to CR and also an A$$ decided to drive his Range Rover into my sister's compact car (she was making a stop sign) while he was looking the other way. This happened the day I was flying to CR. So I spent all the time taking my sis to doctor's appointments and showing my GF around, so I didn't get enough time to get in touch with U. One year later she still has back pain. I'm sorry if you feel ofended in any way.

    Going back to the topic, while I consider myself as a weekend XC rider, I would like to take on your offer next time I am home, if the offer still stands.

    Cheers,
    Cris
    Last edited by crisillo; 12-15-2005 at 04:29 PM. Reason: typo.. it was 2 weeks, not 2 days :-p

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