Suddenly, you are in Rio
After 10 months and 21.950 km of cycling, arrival in Rio de Janeiro :)
Cycling the final stretch from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro was an adventure. Seemingly small choices with big consequences. I had 1750 km ahead of me and two weeks to get the job done if I wanted to arrive before the 10th of July. The route went by coast and along the way I met 3 more cyclists. I decided to cycle along with them, also along the part where there were no roads only beach and heavy sandy roads. Yes we got lost several times, yes our bikes broke down, yes we’ve had some special spots where we spent the night, and yes we’ve been pushing our bikes forward for hours and hours (including that river). Overall, a great adventure! Wouldn’t have wanted to miss it in the world.
If this would be a cycling holiday I would still be with my cycling friends from Argentina, Colombia and Brazil on some deserted beach re-living that cool adventure we shared. But, I needed to get a move on, there was some serious cycling to be done.
Road bike body
The bicycle was tired and worn down. She needed some time off and some serious care taking. The front blades were finished and eaten. The final 1200 km’s I did on the smallest blade. And the sandy roads didn’t do the bike well either. Several ocasions I had to get it fixed or fix it myself (not good at that by the way). The mind however was doing good. This in spite of the fact that the Brazilians in traffic were even wors than I stated in the last post. They play with lives and a cyclist? A cyclist is nothing, it does not exist.
So yeah a strong body. Guess the 4000 km of head wind and the high Andes had transformed me in a cycling animal. In the last two weeks a day of 170 km’s would be just another day at the office. There was even a day where I did 230 km’s. True, my back and elbows were hurting but my legs were good to go for another 50 km’s. At some point the endorphines and adrenalines just take over and you keep on going. Interesting experiment.
If you read the updates you might recall a special day during christmass in Mexico in which 6 different people gave me money, food, drinks and shelter. A very special day on this journey. Not only because they wanted to give something also because we had great moments and talks. Some people got emotional and I did too. Well, it happenend al along the way that people were good to me but during the last 2 weeks again it was like that day in Mexico.
Meeting the 3 cyclists, meals that were being offered, and people giving me money to spend the night in a warm bed (nights were cold in my hammock). It’s the kindness of the Brazilian people that I’ve had during the whole trip but in these final weeks it seemed as if it was building up towards the arrival in Rio. The power of the bicycle is not to be underestimated. What helps is that I speak the language and can explain what I’m doing. Either way, pure energy, beautiful.
In these crazy weeks I got seriously boosted a couple of days before I arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Looking for a place to sleep in the city of Vitoria I met Fagundes at a cycling shop. Turned out that he gave me the key to his appartment, let me spend the night in a bed, gave me full control over the fridge and told me I could spend as long as I want. The woman who helps him out in the house, her name is Sonia, did my laundry and made fresh food too. I mean, imagine this in Western Europe. Don’t think so.
Through Fagundes I actually became famous. He called the media and the next day the only thing I was doing was giving interviews to media. 8 o’clock new was all about this Dutch guy cycling. You can’t imagine what happened when I left. Everybody in the city of Vitoria and in the state of Espirito Santo knew me. If people didn’t give me attention for more that 10 minutes I was wondering if these people follow the news. I guess you get cocky at some point ;)
Presents, honking, pictures, shouting and even a car stopped and a family went out to bless me in a group ritual that lasted for 5 minutes. Was a crazy day but fun and I think my ego had the day of his life. As far as I’m concerned, one day is enough. Anyway, here two video’s to give you an idea: Folha en Globo.
The day I arrived in Rio the sun was shining. I was excited but still relaxed enough to absorb all the beauty and people that were waiting for me. We cycled through the city with a group of Dutchies, proffessional pictures were taken by a photographer, we had some beers, but the best thing ever was that my best friend and his girlfriend were waiting for me. What a gift!
At the project, Estrela da Favela, the children and teachers were waiting for me. We had food, we sang, they made drawings, and the children asked questions about the trip. It was a beautiful day. Thanks for that Edna!
It’s a bit hectic now and I will do some work in Rio during the Olympics. I know this city like my back-pocket and I need the money. Besides that I enjoy this city, I’ll always go back to Rio, you should go there too it’s a brilliant city. Aside from that, I have plans. Plans to cycle for a higher good, cycle for our planet because I feel she can use all the help there is. Cycle for people because they are good. Cycle for us to unite.