This is the day I had been dreaming about since I thought about doing this tour. Crossing the finish line, The Bridge of the Americas. I was both mixed with emotions of excited to achieve this goal yet sad that this was going to end. I was thinking about what to do next when it’s over.
The night before I stayed in La Chorrera about 35 km from Panama City. A few locals I met along the road told me that the best time to head into the city was after 9 a.m. when rush hour ends. I woke up early, got ready, and patiently waited for the traffic to calm down.
As I got onto the highway, it was a surreal feeling that this was the last stretch before the finish line. I took a deep breath and rode off. The wind was blowing in my hair… I’m exaggerating. I’m bald.
The fear of getting hit by car or truck disappeared. Nothing else mattered at this moment. After biking for an hour, I reached a state of flow where all I was focused on was breathing, peddling, energy levels, and reaching my goal. It was a natural high of happiness.
I was riding as fast as I could to time my arrival at the base of the bridge to be aligned with the daily live broadcast schedule. I made it with a few minutes to spare. I set up my iPhone and got online. Take a squint. Can you see the top of the Bridge of the Americas in the pic?
Watch Crossing the Bridge of the Americas
See what it’s like to cross the bridge from my bike. There were a few moments when a car and school bus got too close. Click video to watch.
I did it! I crossed the Bridge of the Americas!
Afterwards, I biked down to the Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador). The local I stayed with in La Concepcion told me that this was the best place to snap a photo with the bridge in the background.
During this trip I posted pics on Instagram and mentioned that some of the only places I could find to stay at where at these Latin America love looking motels. We’ll, a friend sent me a message on Facebook to gift me this suite at a 5 star beach resort with an ocean view! Talk about being lucky. Special thanks again to my anonymous friend for gifting their credit card points for this awesome stay!
The terrain was pretty flat all the way from La Chorrera to the Bridge of the Americas. The ride took about 3 hours.
After resting on the causeway and having lunch, I cycled the last 14 km to Playa Blanca which had a few hills along the way.
How far did I cycle on this tour?
Total 935 km
At the beginning of this tour, I cycled 60 km with my friend from Tamarindo to Nicoya, Costa Rica marked in red. Then after continuing solo, I cycled 875 km from Jaco, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama. It took me 26 days since I stayed in a few towns to rest and do some site seeing.
Bicycle touring is a great way to explore a country, connect with people, and learn about cultures. It’s much different than backpacking. It changes how people view you from tourist (dollar signs) to traveler (human).
I set off on a challenge to bike through Costa Rica and Panama with no experience or prior training. I started biking short distances and increased kilometers as I built up stamina, endurance, and strength. The most important thing was to just go out there and do it.
I didn’t even know how to use the gears on the bike, let alone do maintenance and repairs. I met people along the way who taught me little things here and there on the journey.
I didn’t know what the terrain from the starting point to the finish line looked like. I talked to locals and ask questions on where to go, what to see, and who to meet. All I had to do was get to a destination, then I was always able to find someone who knew what the road ahead looked like. I usually asked the same question to three different people to test for consistency. If the answers matched up, I moved forward with the given advice. Regardless of all the research I could’ve done online prior to hitting the road, locals knew best.
I didn’t have to know everything from the get go. I just had to be prepared to deal with all the variables.
I’m thankful that my friend Adam flew down to start this journey with me. He helped to get this bicycle tour going. While I finished the rest of this tour alone, the kindness of strangers and friends back home (online) provided support along the way.
Would I do this again? In a heart beat.