Nearly there…

 

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!

An old lesson

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.

View from the road…

By Mike Tomlinson
Not to trivialise the achievement of cycling from London to Lisbon this challenge was always going to be Brazil. We arrived in Recife in the early hours of Friday morning. My first impression was not good, incredibly poor living conditions, rats the size of cats and lots of feral kids out on bikes (even at 3 in the morning).

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.

Day one in Brazil

By Paul Highton

So that was a strange 1st day in Brazil and in particular Recife. After an uneventful lie in I decided to get up and make a dent into my mountain of washing that was slowly gathering mould as quickly as it was flies. After a quick game of hunt the travel wash I decided there was only one thing for it and that was to start at outfit 1 and get in the shower clothed and get the trusty complimentary hand soap on it (it felt quite nice if I’m honest). After change of gear no7 the water wasn’t running as fast but my pules were .

I then got the call to say some of the group were heading into Recife City for a mooch about and a bite to eat so swiftly joined them. This gave us a good opportunity to take a look at what the road conditions were like in Brazil and how the traffic treated us iron pushers and as it happens not too well.

We arrived in Recife and were dropped at a busy local market and for some reason we all gravitated towards the huge cathedral in the centre which as it happens had armed security on the front doors !!! this kind of set the standard for how the next few hours would go. We started to stroll around the markets and couldn’t have screamed out tourist any louder if we tried, from me stuffing my phone and wallet down the front of my strides to Shiv and Mike reading a map whilst trying to control it in the wind.

The streets we walked over the next hour or so threw up everything from children trying to sell us a bottle of water and a straw to some of the team trying to access a mini bank which was once again under armed control the city really was a rabbit warren full of people really fighting it out to make a living but amid all the poverty and hardship I really felt a sense of gratitude and purpose walking around the streets and bridges that I have dreamt about for so many years and I can only thank everyone involved in this journey for helping make this a reality on the back of doing so many good things for organisations like Janes appeal and RL Cares.

Now Let’s not get too carried away and nostalgic as we were very quickly reminded about the quirky and dangers of brazil as our cab driver ploughed into a guy on a motorbike waiting to pull out!! Personally I had no sympathy for the guy having come off my own bike 3 times and haven’t once made a song and dance like he did.

Anyways of for tea and to see what the fall of darkness brings in this wonderfully freaky part of the world !!!

LATERS

Highto