Onward to Santos

Posted: September 15, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And so to Santos – the aim of our training with André, O Bicicreteiro. Santos, on the coast of São Paulo state with the largest port in Brazil; the home of Santos Football Club, which in turn is the club that Pelé played for along with a number of other fantastic Brazilian football players, including Neymar at the moment. Robinho… Elano… Leonardo.. loads of them. Good club to go watch play football, though their fans can be a bit quiet when things are not going so well.

The route we took to Santos was 100km from the main starting point (another 8km away from our house), so a healthy distance for a day’s ride. We were in the green shirts for “beginners”, whilst people in white shirts were “advanced” riders – a distinction that swiftly became apparent was very much subjective, depending on people’s own opinion about themselves, rather than based on any evaluation of technical skills and capacity! But it didn’t really matter in the end – we were within a group who had a good mixture of people who definitely did know how to help when we needed it, as well as less experienced riders.

Section along the Maintenance Road – one of the hilliest parts of the route

Though around 800metres lower than São Paulo city, for a coastal town there were plenty of hill climbs upwards to navigate. Altogether, the net height climbed over the length of the ride was about 2,250 metres, whilst net descent was about 3,050 metres. Some pretty tough climbs in there as well, with one gradient of around 24% going up taking a lot out of all of, though both Natalia and myself managed to make them all without pushing our bikes. People described it as a “wall”, but in comparison to the Sorocaba training, this just seemed easier – maybe because it was shorter rather than a sustained long climb, or maybe it was because our training rides had had a good effect on us. Still pretty brutal though and the legs were burning a bit at the top, though the downhills on the other side made up for it in the end!

The first third of the journey covered the route we took to Rio Grande da Serra, along the loose rock and stone road where Natalia got a puncture the last time. As with the big climbs, it all seemed a lot easier this time, and thankfully no punctures. To get to the highway maintenance road (the old highway used now only by cyclists and highway maintenance cars), we had a stretch going along the hard should of the Immigrantes Highway the wrong direction – not particularly pleasant, but fortunately no cars decided to use the hard shoulder as traffic was flowing quite freely.  The maintenance road itself was picturesque (with the exception of the main highway above us, it felt like we were in Jurassic Park, with the forest around us) and in reasonably good condition – we just had to keep to the middle to avoid the slippy moss/algae growing on the sides. Hitting that stuff at speed and turning could spell disaster.

Gradient profile of the route to Santos – some pretty hilly sections there…

We got to Santos at about 5.30pm, cycling in from the neighbouring industrial town of Cubatão, through the city to the promenade where we had some rather salty fish and squid. Too bad the football team was playing away from home, but I think we would have been too tired to go to any match. We had to wait till around 8pm for the bus – the driver of which was particularly unhelpful in terms of getting the bikes into the luggage containers at the bottom. It was torture seeing our bikes all piled on top of each other, but everything got back to São Paulo in one piece, thankfully, and we managed to sleep as the bus edged its way up through the traffic.

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