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
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 Friday lunch we ventured out into the City centre to explore. Trying to blend in was hopeless, we were the only tourists and may well have had a sign saying “mug us”. After an uncomfortable hour sweating in the heat and for our safety we got a taxi back to the hotel only for him to knock over a motorcyclist who could have given Ronaldo an acting lesson.
As for the cycling the first two hours was like Russian roulette, buzzed by trucks, avoiding potholes which should have their own postcodes and vehicles that ignore every law. At one point there was a road sign, a rarity in itself, warning of bulls. I thought my chances of surviving 19 days were pretty slim.
This though is a wonderful country and the majority of people we have met have been happy, polite and very helpful. There is extreme poverty, shacks without roofs and windows but there is a crazy vibe, music blasting from pimped out knackered car’s, ranchers, kids cycling the wrong way up 6 lane highways, it’s mental. Cycling down the Atlantic Coast the scenery is so beautiful and every sense is heightened.
By Darren Clark
We’ve arrived in Lisbon and for me the last day in the saddle is complete.
Since the 27th June we’ve covered 1,100+ miles across the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. There have been some ups and downs – emotionally, physically and most definitely in the road.
I’ve seen some outstanding views and some utterly dismal towns.
There are places I want to return to as a tourist to investigate more, there are others I want to forget completely.
Good luck for the rest of the challenge to my fellow European leg cyclists, those that join in Receife and the amazingly patient support team – remember the old management saying “team work, makes the dream work” or in this case makes the cycling much bloody easier…
Finally, special thanks to Vicky, Jenna and the rest of my family for their support and encouragement not only over the last 3 weeks but all the times I’ve woken up said “I’m off for a short ride” and returned 5 hours later over the last 6 months.
Until the next one … Au revoir, Adios, Adeus and si’thi
By Charlie Webster
I had a pretty rough night last night, I felt so sick and then was sick. I ended up sat on the floor in my hotel room balling my eyes out to my mum and my friend. ‘I just feel so sick’ …
By Daz Clark
Nope, not the name of a new avant-garde band, but a one line summary of the last 2 days in which we’ve covered over 230 miles, mostly into a strong headwind, had 5 punctures (2 for me on the same wheel), 1/2 the team were molested by the worlds biggest farm dog which was caked in cow shit, and oh yeah Paul managed to snap his chain which damaged his derailleur in the process..
All in all a very tiring (approx 25 from 48 hours) but ultimately very satisfying 2 days on the wheels.
Tomorrow we’re on the ferry across the estuary of gironde for another 90+ miles day, which is gonna be a hard one if the aches in my legs tonight are anything to go by.
By Kat Macknay
A very long time ago (well, just over 10 years), a kind hearted girl (that would be me) asked a work colleague if he needed any help with a small event his family was setting up. Roll the flashback forward and the off the cuff remark I made to Mike Tomlinson has seen me help with a variety of tasks from packing envelopes for the first Leeds 10k (it will be the tenth one in just over a week) through senior marshalling, for too many events to count, to now sitting in a hotel room with a sea view in Royan, France writing a blog about doing support for Ride To Rio.
The support role is just what you would imagine, it starts before the riders set off for the day with ensuring they have all the liquid and fuel needed for the first stage of the ride, to ensuring you are on hand should any problems occur (we are on day 5 now and have had 6 punctures and a broken chain). We scout ahead on the planned routes and identify spots for refueling / coffee breaks and wander round foreign bakeries and supermarkets to ensure lunch is to hand when we know when and where this will be. We hunt the riders down if the Sat Navs go a bit wonky and herd them all back together if they have misplaced each other. We are there at the end of the day to ensure they get to end points and hotels and give them recovery drinks when they finish (much needed as these guys have been riding 100+ miles a day) and clean down bikes. And after all that we ensure we have all the bottles, water and energy supplements to do it again the next day (as I type this, it is half past midnight and Shiv is in the bathroom armed with a bottle of washing up liquid, a bottle brush and a lot of bike bottles). Roll on tomorrow – lovely places to see and riders to support.
By Mike Tomlinson
There is little point in setting out on an endurance challenge if it isn’t actually a challenge. But what actually is the challenge, the distance, danger, the terrain. All of the above usually but for each of us it’s different.
Today we have cycled 130 miles, a life time best for me, for a large part into a head wind with constant issues with the route and bikes. When you’ve been on the road for 5 days in the saddle for between 10 to 13 hours, a different bed each night eating late into the evening sleep deprivation becomes a major issue. Many of the support and riders have managed only little more than a couple of hours sleep, sharing rooms with stranger.
For me I’m a miserable git at the best of times and the challenge was to remain cheerful throughout. Paul Highton said on Wednesday he gave a himself a good talking to, a rollicking, to get him up the hills. I’ve promised myself and the support for the next 5 weeks I will change my personality and become a reasonable human being…………….some chance !