To Rio Grande da Serra and speed issues

Posted: August 28, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

More cycling adventures have been coming thick and fast – during the week, we have been doing training such as riding up and down hills leading up to Avenida Paulista, and 50km rides through the city at night, just getting used to more and more riding. We have been slowly getting more and more things for our bikes as well – extra inner tubes, pumps, puncture repair kits, stands, speedometers – and we will need to get a whole lot more: spanners, keys, baggage racks, cycling shoes and pedals with clips (makes riding soooo much easier, though need a little while getting used to), oils… and plenty more.

But in the mean time, the cycling with the Bicicreteiro group has been going well, and the weekend before this last one, we went to Rio Grande da Serra, a nice 75km cycle ride away from the city on a route that would see us cycle there and get a train back. This week Paulo, who has relatively better experiences riding longer distances, joined us. At the meeting point by the smelly River Pinheiros (about 8km away from our house), there was a group of around 30 of us, though as the day drew out, the group split into a number of smaller pelotons as we went along the cycle path at our different paces, and tried to not get lost as there were parts where we took a little while to cross-reference what André had written in the route plan and with the different road names around us.

Though shorter than the previous routes, this was definitely harder (though again, quite picturesque, with us going by lakes outside of the city and taking short trips on the car ferries over these lakes) mainly due to more the different surface types – we went along gravel roads this time as well as the smoother asphalt highways. Incredible the difference it all makes – average speeds of around 30km+ per hour along the flats on the highways, with my maximum speed getting up to just over 60km going downhill on the smooth, well-made surfaces, whilst the steep cimbs up hill on these same highways saw people reduce to around 7kmph. Many got off their bikes on the gravel tracks. I managed to make it staying on the bike (much to my happiness!), though not without a good deal of aching in my legs and, with the hybrid tyres , I occasionally felt the bike slipping in the gravel and the bike losing grip.

Am definitely not a fan of falling off bikes: the thought of the pain in my chest when I landed on top of it after falling head-over-heals in Bolivia is somewhat off-putting, as is Natalia’s experience inBolivia when she suffered a similar fate though a few more cuts than myself; as a kid riding along I also had a good few bad experiences losing control, not being able to make the turns on roads and going into ditches and walls… not nice. So losing grip and falling off on the rough surfaces of these roads would definitely not have been very healthy. I think the actual speed you go needs to be a careful balance – though this is just my opinion: you go too slow and you are tense, your bike is more easily affected by the grit and stones in your way, whereas if you go a little faster, these stones will just pop out of your way. If you go too fast, however, and you do lose control – the loose stones are too big to budge, from under your tyre or you are stuck going into a turn, then you are that much more vulnerable to doing serious damage to yourself when you are fall.

Fortunately, we did not suffer any accidents like that, though the journey to Rio Grande da Serra wasn’t without problems… (to be continued)

Thanks to André for the photographs!

Fortunately no accidents like that for us this time, but there were other problems… (more to come)

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