By Kat Macknay
As we sit looking at the Rio skyline, Christ the Redeemer lit up and hovering over the city, there is a moment of nostalgia to be had. The ups and downs of the last 6 weeks across 2 continents and 5 countries have been at various points hilarious (to the point of tears), sad (tears may have also appeared), annoying, boring but ultimately extremely satisfying.
The work put in by the riders – 5 in Europe and 7 here in Brazil – has been phenomenal, they get up at silly o’clock, have brekkie, get bikes sorted, pick up water and then ride for anything up to 100+ miles stopping only for food and water top ups.
The work put in by support, myself, Roo Harrington and Siobhan Curtis has, in my opinion (and I may be slightly biased) been phenominal in a different way. Ensuring that the riders have what they need, when they need it, making sure we know where they all are at any time (I refer you to a previous blog and the term herding cats) as well as ensuring all is in line for when it is required, be it food, water, first aid kit and a hundred plus other things is a full time job.
I have said before that I feel both blessed and honoured to have been able to help with this challenge – the inspiration of Jane has really helped focus what it is that we are all doing and when you think what she undertook while terminally ill, we realise that horrid roads and bad drivers pale in comparison with the things that really matter.
Life is a journey not a destination and the last few weeks have been a hell of a journey.
By Mike Tomlinson
On 31st August 2006 Jane stood on Staten Island looking across at Manhattan knowing the next day she would cycle through Brooklyn over Brooklyn Bridge and complete her ride across America.
We looked at each other and knew her athletic exploits were over and she would head home knowing her days were limited. On the ride she gave everything despite aggressive liver cancer and extensive issues with bone disease. She felt a huge relief her cycling journey was complete but an overwhelming sadness that her life was drawing to a close.
To my fellow cyclists thank you for sharing the journey and to the support crew you have all been awesome.
Today I look out across the sea to Rio hoping that tomorrow i get to the top of Christ the Redeemer. I know at each pedal stroke tomorrow i will think of Jane and the mighty achievement she made happen 10 years ago. Apart from a very select few no one realises how hard you dug in.
This is my Staten Island moment, my last day of 15 years of challenges.
Thank you to everyone .
By John Miller
70 something miles further today on wearisome roads where we all spent the whole day looking over our shoulders wondering whether the next truck we saw would be our last. Nevertheless we’re all here in one piece, and just one more day cycling should see us literally within sight of our goal – Rio de Janeiro, the “Marvellous City”.
It’s been quite a journey through Brazil, from the poverty and roller coaster hills of the north, to the flatter, busier, more sophisticated south with an ever present headwind and some dirt tracks thrown in. Through it all the people of Brazil have been friendly and curious, and once they understand “Recife to Rio” eyebrows are usually raised, hands shaken, photos taken.
Jack and I wanted to show some family support by riding and he has shown his usual determination to put up with an ongoing foot injury throughout. Mike and I have successfully completed our auditions for “Grumpy Old Men” but the family wouldn’t have us any other way. Mick is of course a triathlete and a machine but he’s kept his frustrations at our slow pace in check.
We’re very grateful to our high profile team members who have given freely of their time and efforts and deserve much credit – Paul was by his own admission no cyclist before this challenge, but he has done brilliantly and can certainly call himself one now. Keith and Charlie are both in such great shape that they’ve made it look easy, but don’t be fooled – Brazil has served up some very tough cycling conditions.
Our support crew have been the real unsung heroes. Shiv, Kat and Roo have been there through thick and thin, calmly picking up our teddies and putting them back in the relevant prams – all the riders have had their moments… A small but typical example – today three of us arrived at a bar after 50 miles for a drink. Kat appeared, but before thinking of herself was quietly refilling our bottles. This sort of selfless attitude has been their hallmark – people of real quality. I’m sure all the riders will agree we are deeply in their debt.
Of course the main reason we’re here is to mark Jane’s remarkable achievement in riding across the USA in 2006. Jane has been an inspiration to all who know of her – one memory that has stayed with me was in October 2005 when I had gone to Leeds to collect Steven to take him to Grandma in Settle. Jane asked me if I wanted a brew (yes, obviously) and then insisted on getting up and making it herself despite being hardly able to walk across the living room. Yet this was just a few days before she was due to fly to Florida to attempt a full Ironman event. I got to Settle and told them I had no idea how she thought it would be possible. But despite everything that was exactly what she did in November 2005 – so when I’m having a hard day I often find myself recalling that, and can then usually find an extra gear.
Thanks to all who have generously donated – and there is still time!
By Mike Tomlinson
I was asked a question in an interview today of why I had chosen to ride to Rio,
“because I have always wanted to go to Christ the Redeemer and I didn’t want to pay the airfare”
I got a telling off and it was asked to be cut from the interview. The reason why is that it made it look like the charity was paying when in reality I am paying my own way.
To be truthful there are times when I have felt it may have been best to have just donated the money to the appeal. Jane and I felt like this as she road across America as it wasn’t until the last day that any significant sums were raised.
It also hard to be riding through a country like Brasil and to be raising money when there is so much need here. We can, rightly, bemoan the north/south divide at home but in Brasil it is extreme. Whist there are still areas if extreme poverty further south they are not as frequent and there is an affluence that could not be envisaged 1500 miles north.
Finally the Olympics start this week and I cannot see why a country with so many issues would want to pay the sums required to host the games, it us obscene. It is only now as we enter the state of Rio that there is any noticeable interest in the games. How there is any relevance to the kids of Bahia and above is beyond me.
I think it’s fair to say we are getting to the point where we all would quite happily throw our bikes in the sea and never see them again. That’s saying something as I love my bike. We have 3 more days to go and I can actually see Rio on a map, if I zoom out a bit anyway! We have nearly cycled 3000 miles which despite doing it I can’t quite get my head around. Every day I’ve worked hard to get through the days challenges and at some points thought how on earth are we going to do this on a day to day basis. All of a sudden I’ve found myself on day 36.
By Mike Tomlinson
This is Day 32 of Ride to Rio and there is no doubt that it was never going to be easy. But, as often, on these rides the cycling can be the easiest part of the trip. Long days, a different town every night, strange bed, no chance to do laundry are just the tip if the iceberg.
Everyone is affected differently, with me I crave the solitude and head space that is hard to find in the environment.
This has been heightened in Brasil. We landed in Recife two weeks ago. We were all shocked by how poor the country was and the quality of housing. People had little, work seemed scarce. Like many poorer countries I have visited the quality of life has been excellent without the demands of materialism.
There was though an undercurrent of danger from robbery, never felt by us but advised by the locals. As darkness falls by 5:30 we were advised not to go outside of the accommodation and I felt trapped. The people were to a person, smiling pleasant and very helpful.
As we have moved down the country, about 1000 miles, the wealth has increased considerably, especially in the Cities and so has the aloofness of the people. There is a considerable north/south divide, ring any bells, I know where I would rather be.
Brasil is an outstandingly beautiful country, many places unspoilt, since we have been here we have seen no western or American visitors; who knows how long that will last.
So for all the long days in the saddle, the one thing that I will take away from me is that wealth does not mean happiness, its the simple things that matter the most.
By John Miller
Today’s navigation blunder occurred in the opening few minutes, and once rectified, the road became a dirt track which caused some more confusion as it lasted just one kilometre before turning into smooth Tarmac for 18 miles passing oil fields and lonely farms – but no traffic. We realised why when a rickety narrow bridge signalled the end of the road – and the start of 23 miles of sandy track, which proved slow and treacherous. Two falls and a bit of swearing later and we were back on the blacktop for the last 39 miles to tonight’s stop at Linhares, passing thousands of workers cottages for Petrobras – the local oil giant. So 70 miles further – and all into a relentless battering headwind. Highlights today – comical cows chasing us along the fences, Cokes at the back-of-beyond beach bar, trying (and I think failing miserably) to explain to the locals in Linhares what the Garmin was, and a road sign for a caption competition…
By Paul Highton
Day 28 Blog
By Charlie Webster
From what I have seen so far Brazil is one beautiful place. The scenery is just natural beauty at its most stunning, it is only when you see the little kid walking down the road barefoot and the favela’s with back to back shacks made of sticks that it reveals its hardships. Yesterday we cycled through so many of these little townships, we stopped at a few for a drink and the locals despite most likely never seeing a foreigner before were so welcoming, smiling as we pulled up and waving as we went by. The kids all eager to talk to us. I ended up having a chat with 2 kids, well maybe not ‘chat’ but some form of communication through my broken Portuguese and gesturing, their eyes lit up as they looked at my bike and I showed them photos on my phone of our trip so far. I ended up giving them a drink and Keith’s crisps.