Final training ride – to Sorocaba

Posted: September 5, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
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So, the final long distance bike ride, a week before the 100km challenge to Santos, was the 115km journey to Sorocaba. While Santos is on the coast, down from São Paulo, Sorocaba is west of São Paulo, and the main route we took was the highway Raposo Tavares, through some pretty high hills, via the town of São Roque.

It was a tough ride.

At the beginning, it was straightforward enough – along the smelly cycle way by the River Pinheiros, but north this time instead of south like the Paranapiacaba ride, onto the nice and busy BR-116 interstate route that was thankfully not too busy and not too long a stretch so we didn’t have any near misses with mad bus drivers, and then at the town of Embu, off on to side roads to the city of Cotia (where one of my team at work lives – she wasn’t able to come out and cheer for us though, in spite of a message telling her to watch out of the lycra-clad fitness freaks coming her way)… a good discussion between the best ways to get on to Raposo (the good old argument between the people who knew the area and those relying on GPS… there’s only ever going to be one winner, and thankfully we did choose to trust our colleagues on the ride!)… and then yes, Raposo, one of the busiest and more dangerous highways coming out of São Paulo, which has only very few hardshoulder areas for cyclists to go along, meaning we were much more vulnerable than when we went on the Rodoanel.

The surface of the highway was decent, which definitely helped, but it just seemed that the various up-hills never ended. I managed to make them all, including a long steep, climbing section that reached a gradiant of 17% or so just outside of São Roque (after 62km), though it was pretty exhausting. Natalia hadn’t really had experience with such hills and her knee was getting a bit sore (I think her saddle had been pushed a bit lower, which didn’t help), so she walked a couple of them, but she still did reasonably well especially as we were among the first group for a long time before Natalia got separated from us – still a bit of tension there going down-hills, but no problem. I stopped to the side of the highway and waited for her to join, and we latched on to a group of three others who had fallen a bit behind the first lot due to a puncture.

Getting into São Roque at around 2pm or so, many of the first peloton were having lunch, but we just fed ourselves on the dried fruit and water we had – we didn’t want to eat too much because of the fear of our stomachs adding extra weight to carry up the hills. It was a wise choice as immediate outside the town there were some more long steadily climbing roads which we took our time getting up. Imagining doing that with heavy stomachs was not a particularly nice thought.

At least the steep climbs up were compensated by a couple of rather nice hills down – the asphalt was clingy in some parts meaning that even on the descent we had to peddle to keep going, but on other parts it was nice and smooth, and I managed to get up to 65kmph without even ducking to decrease my wind resistance, and just on a hybrid bike. Good fun, though I only did this when the road was straight and clear of traffic. We found out later that a member of the group behind us had suffered an accident, falling off when going downhill too fast – had to get taken to hospital and it looks like he will have to have some facial reconstruction surgery: a bad reminder of the risks we face and for us not to get too confident as cyclists are extremely vulnerable.

It was good getting to Sorocaba, though. A definite sense of achievement considering this was our first journey of over 100km in one day, and knowing that as we had managed this, we should be alright with the journey to Santos.

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