First big bike ride…

Posted: August 14, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Estação São Miguel Paulista (c) O Bicicreteiro

We got to really test our new bikes a week after buying them with the Bicicreteiro cycle group (www.bicicreteiro.org). This is a group of people who are training for the 100km ride to Santos, which will be taking place on 2 September. It is a good distance and though it will be largely downhill, there will be some pretty tough uphill sections and, should any rider get too tired in the middle, there won’t be much help in terms of public transport to take you back to São Paulo… so it is wise to stay in good shape for it. The group goes on training rides every Tuesday and Thursday night in the city of São Paulo – mainly practicing going up and down steep hills – and then longer rides on Sundays. We only joined the group towards the end of the first week, so missed the first few sessions, though we joined in time for a nice 85km ride going along the cycle ways in the eastern and northern areas of the megapolis, from São Miguel Paulista to Tatuapé, Parque de Joventude, Barra Funda and Vila Lobos before heading down towards Ibirapuera Park.

We went on a Sunday and there were around 60 of us in total, led by André Pasqualani. André is a cyclist who has had fantastic experiences of cycling with his Biomass project (http://bicicreteiro.org/projeto-biomas/) during which he cycled for over 6,000 kilometres through the Pantanal, Amazonia, Mata Atlantica forest; the Cerrado, and four other national parks… He aims to help increase enthusiasm for cycling in São Paulo – a city in which the general antipathy felt by motorists towards cyclists is spectacular in its scope; and a city in which I have spent five years psyching myself up to get courage to actually ride a bike because of this antipathy and the fear of drivers on the roads. Certainly a good cause as with all the smoke from cars on the streets of the city, having more people on more environmentally friendly means of transportation would definitely help.

Being in the group of 60 certainly helps with the fear – safety is definitely in numbers. One of the good things about cycling on Sundays is that many of the roads in the city have a lane closed off and dedicated to cyclists until 4pm, making it slightly safer for us all. However, this is just with some of the roads and we occasionally had to take some major avenues, so with all of us in the group, we were able to go largely with less worry about other vehicles not seeing us.

At Vila Lobos Park (c) O Bicicreteiro

Also, with the peloton, you can also get some aerodynamic support to make life easier: staying out of the wind by keeping close to the person in front. I got lost and separated from the group at the start and was riding around like crazy for a good half hour or so before I eventually caught up, and in riding quickly by myself, I certainly felt the wind in my face – it was nice catching up with the group and ducking in with them to stay in their slip stream.

The journey on this Sunday was pretty smooth and it was good for me as a first big ride back, and good for Natalia to start getting to know the bike better. We quickly noticed that our bikes needed a few adjustments – the seat on mine was slightly too low which led to me getting sore knees, whilst Natalia’s gears kept slipping whilst going into the lower range – fortunately there were not too many hills to go up meaning that she didn’t have to use these ones too often. We definitely do need to do a bike mechanics course though soon so we are prepared for if and when we really do need to adjust or repair the bikes when by ourselves on the road…

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