200km in two days – São Paulo to Amparo

Posted: December 26, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
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Sao Paulo - Amparo - ElevationTo get into shape for the UK bike tour, we need to get used to riding long distances on consecutive days. What better way to do this than to go to Amparo – a small town north of São Paulo – via Atibaia, a town to which we already know the route pretty well? It would have been a good 170km if we had gone straight according to the route, but we added on another 30km or so with detours, so it was a reasonable way to go. It proved to be a good couple of days that had a fair few highlights: riding through scorching sun, a ridiculously strong rain storm, punctures, a broken baggage rack, endless steep climbs, nice smooth asphalt highways, cobble stones and bumpy earth and rock roads, and a really nice guest house in between it all… a lot of fun.

Sao Paulo - AmparoIt is amazing how riding in the rain (when it’s hot, at least!) is so much better than riding exposed in the sun. Starting off at 10am on Saturday morning, it was a little later than I normally like to head out – 7am or earlier is much better, so we don’t get completely fried under the tropical sun. Fortunately, while it was hot, it was a little overcast, which helped. As we climbed the steep Santa Ines road up in to the Cantareira mountains, it stayed hot so we stopped on a number of occasions not because of the steepness of the hill but simply because the heat sapped our (sorry for the cliché!) souls! However, the clouds started to accumulate and the sky became darker and darker.  It started to rain just as we got over the summit of the mountain. It wasn’t too hard, but going downhill and the rain was driving into our faces and it actually hurt the skin a little. You also really feel the difference especially when braking: Down this stretch I normally go around 50km per hour as it is steep but there are a few long curves that need to be taken with care, but going that speed in the wet would have been just dangerous – as soon as you brake a little hard and you can feel the loss of traction and it’s a bit scary, so I was pumping the brakes pretty much constantly to make sure I didn’t build up too much. Flying off those curves or losing control with cars coming from behind or the opposite direction would not have been good.

At the bottom we discovered that Natalia had a puncture – back tire again, which has the most weight on it with the panniers and body weight – though fortunately we got a break from the rain to be able to fix it. We are getting better at dealing with punctures and it only took a few minutes to change this time. I think Natalia will need a new one with slightly better grip as her tires don’t seem so thick. We found a small piece of glass (about 25mm) that had pierced the rubber – always good to check the tire, so as to reduce the chance of the same object causing another puncture in the spare tube.

Temperature - to AtibaiaSo on we went… one more big hill and then flat highway to Mairipora. That’s when it started to really pour down. I didn’t have my waterproof jacket on and I was soaked within seconds. There was no point putting it on after that so I just kept going. Large puddles began to accumulate by the side of the road, and visibility was reduced dramatically (a 100metres or so). We got sprayed by the cars and trucks passing by… but again, we were so wet it made no difference at all. At the same time, however, it was really great. Visibility wasn’t really a problem as we weren’t going fast enough for it to be so important; our lights were strong enough to pierce the rain and make so cars could see us. It was so flat, there were no braking issues… it was just refreshing. Looking at the Garmin route analysis and the temperatures dropped from a peak of 35C before the rain to 18C… nice and warm. There was a problem of drying once we stopped for lunch in Mairipora, but while the lycra clothes are skimpy and maybe not the most fashionable things to wear(!), one of the good things about them is that they dry quickly. It was just our cycle shoes which took a little longer to dry off and it felt we were walking with feet underwater for a while.

Plenty more to tell about the ride, but I think I have written enough for now..!

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