Posts Tagged ‘sao paulo’

Since the end of our last training project, riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the British winter, we have settled back into Brazil, something that has been much harder than it does sound (I know, that sounds silly… settling back in Brazil… how hard can it be to settle back into such a wonderful country..?!). It has been over three months since we got back, but it is still a bit difficult.

Sao Paulo Metro rush hour

The daily rush on the São Paulo metro system… and this is a good day.

Well the first thing is that we are back in the daily grind of the work place, earning our salaries to try to pay for all the training projects that we are still yet to do and all the equipment that we need; going through the São Paulo traffic can make life hell for the commuter – going to work by bus in the morning can take 40 minutes (at night, 30 minutes)… if you are lucky. This morning, like many other mornings, it took two hours. The alternative is metro, where in the rush hour, the stations and trains seem to be operating massively over capacity, and it isn’t fun.

Coming through the snow - beautiful but tricky conditions

Coming through the snow – beautiful but tricky conditions

The second thing is that, though it might sound crazy, riding that challenging route in the UK, even in the middle of winter, was simply a massive amount of fun as well as nice and challenging: every day, we had our goals – we needed to get to our next place in accordance with our schedule; trying to get there before dark; every day different challenges… The first day, absolutely miserable weather, cold, windy and raining cats and dogs… arriving at our host’s house completely soaked, like drowned rats; the next day, nicer, cooler, fresher… until we got over Dartmoor, when the weather closed in before we went down to Exeter… every day was different…  snowy days, icy days, fresh days, wet days and the gale force winds on our last day. Every family with whom we stayed was fantastic, welcoming, interesting and incredibly helpful. The HD with the photos and the videos of the journey may have been lost, but it is hard to imagine any of these memories fading.  I guess the adrenalin of doing all of that really was much higher than it is with us now back in São Paulo… back in this concrete jungle.

So back to São Paulo where we have had to think and prepare for our next training projects, and keep developing our fitness and skills to make sure that we are in as good a shape possible for the kite training; the polar training and a number of other projects that we want to complete before embarking on the actual expedition. For me, the mini-projects like the half marathons help to keep me sane as they give additional goals to keep going in the short-term, but the daily training at the gym and with our personal trainer, Alercinho, with the functional training, is absolutely essential.

Time is flying – it is unbelievable that we are in May already… almost half way through the year… almost a year before we should leave. There aren’t enough days in the week to be able to do everything we want and need to do, though at the same time, being here rather than on the road, just keeping to regular training schedules… is hard. I mentioned in my previous post that I missed the mountains. I miss the UK as well. I miss being out and on the road, and really can’t wait till we get out of São Paulo for the next project.

São Silvestre - Paulista

With the all-round aerobic training, and as having enjoyed running (though never too seriously) since high school, I thought that it would be good to enter in to the São Silvestre 15km/10 mile race that occurs in São Paulo on 31 December every year.

Sao SilvestreThe route, in summary, leaves from Paulista Avenue – one of the main tourist roads – goes downhill to the Pacaembu football stadium, before going around the old centre to Republica, and finally going on a steady climb uphill (from 765m to 838m) for around two kilometres up Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio back to Paulista. A nice route.

I was entering, certainly not to win as I have neither the slight physique nor the serious running experience, but to test myself to see how I got on mentally and physically. I thought before the race that if I managed to complete it at 100 minutes (9km per hour), I would be happy, though from my time on the treadmill and occasional runs outside I believed it could be possible in 90 minutes (10km/hour) – though of course running outside is considerably different to running inside the gym.

The day before the race, Sunday, was calm. We just had a walk to register for the race and pick up the kit, and then walk for a few hours through São Paulo to Casa de Pedra where we had an hour or so climbing just to make a break. Nothing at all exhausting or strenuous. Added to that some good high carb (pasta!) meals, and it was a nice day. An early rise at 7am on the day of the run.

And so to the start of the race at 9am… there were just masses of people. Great atmosphere. I think in total about 25,000 people, who generated lots of noise as they waited for the start to sound. Lots of banners, lots of fancy dress. Lots of Corinthians football team supporters as well, who weren’t shy in making it known about who they actually supported. And lots of people watching and cheering us all on. I was somewhere in the middle of them (probably managed to get about 400 metres from the actual start line before I couldn’t move any further forward; it was impossible to see how far the masses stretched back), and when the start sounded, it took about five minutes for me to shuffle along to get to the start line, and probably about ten minutes or so before I could actually run freely without being stepped on and not stepping on others.

Past RepbulicaWith the 9am start it meant that the city hadn’t heated up too much, and over-night rain had helped refresh things: São Paulo can get extremely hot, even that early, so we were a bit lucky (I probably would have preferred it to be slightly cloudier, though the shade from the tall buildings helped as well for a lot of the time). There were six water/Gatorade supply points along the course as well, which helped keep us all refreshed.

The run went surprisingly well for me. I was able to keep my own steady pace – didn’t try or even think about running faster. The drinks at the points were helpful, though I didn’t in any way feel like I was desperate for hydration. When I came to the final two kilometres with that long climb up Brigadeiro to Paulista Avenue, when lots of people were stopping or walking, I was able to keep going and actually accelerate and manage to well, not quite sprint, but rather run much faster to the finish line. Pretty proud of myself, especially as I got a final time of 1h25m28s (or 85mins 28second) – 15 minutes quicker than I hoped – and, out of 16,253 male athletes, I was 4,483rd

So yes, quite happy with the morning’s work… it just meant that I was exhausted for the rest of New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day… and a bit of the day after..! But back to the gym now, as I want to take part in a couple of half-marathons this year (and hopefully the São Paulo or Rio marathons in 2014… but we shall see about this!).

I am a great fan of seeing the elevation profile of routes, so here it is for this run...

I am a great fan of seeing the elevation profile of routes, so here it is for this run…

IMG_0010Aside from not being the easiest place to get to by biking, Pousado Paiol was great. The price was very reasonable, there is a swimming pool, and the food at dinner and at breakfast was superb. There was even a sauna room as well, but we were just there for the night with no plans on staying too long in the morning… The only problem is that here in Brazil there are three or four different types of power sockets, and the place had only the newest ones… which were not compatible with the charger I was using for my phone and GPS… Note to diary: remember adapter next time.

IMG_0004We did, however, stay longer than we should have, as we needed to work out how to mend the baggage rack on my bike so it didn’t keep falling on top of the wheel. We managed it, by taking off the front bag from the handlebar bag on Natalia’s bike, which wasn’t being used to carry much, and use the screws to secure the bottom of the rack to the wheel. We were able to use one of the screws on one side, but the second didn’t fit on the other, so we transferred a few of things from my panniers into Nathalia’s so as not to have too much weight in a fragile setup. It worked, though.

The problem  was that this all took a bit of time and we ended up leaving the place at around 10am. We thought we would be alright as we didn’t have so far to go on this day – around 65km. However, when the sun was as hot as it got on that day, even the shortest of distances become exhausting. Especially when there are long… endless stretches going uphill. The GPS ran out of battery after 27km, though looking at the readout afterwards, it started off at 30C and ended up 40C, with a peak of 44C – this was before midday and before the hottest part of the afternoon. Which, when we saw one of those signs indicating that there was a steep uphill over the next four kilometres, was soul destroying! The climbs were not the hardest in the world – definitely not as steep as going up Santa Ines into the Cantareira mountains that we did on the previous day – but they were exposed to the sun, with few trees and little shade for long stretches. So everywhere we did find a big tree, we would stop and pause, and drink water to make sure we didn’t dehydrate.

The town of Morungaba was a welcome pit stop after a nice descent – we stopped at a biker’s bar (not cyclists; motorcyclists) and we just parked our bikes alongside some ultra-powerful, fast and modern racing bikes that were about a gazillion CC or something like that. Not at all out of place, but ah well. The people were nice and the extra litres of water and Gatorade, along with some cake  for a bit of a change from our  energy blocks, was extremely welcome. After the town, however, it was still painful with more uphill in the afternoon heat, even though only 20km between the town and Amparo. It just all seemed endless, and there was no decent hard shoulder to go on. We thought it was over when we knew we were getting closer to the city and there was a sign saying 4km of steep descent… which there was, and it was great… just we got down it all too quickly and… then more uphill.

Finally we got there – after this final climb, there was a fantastic descent into Amparo. So much easier! Shame there were no buses back to São Paulo, but it gave us chance to catch up with some of Natalia’s family in the town (with a fantastic bbq!), and we were able to get back home via a  bus to Campinas.

IMG_0015

Courtesy of Pousada Paiol guest house at Atibaia www.http://pousadapaiol.com.br/)

Photo courtesy of Pousada Paiol guest house near Atibaia (www.http://pousadapaiol.com.br/)

The ride to Amparo, as I said before, was… eventful. The rainstorm on the Saturday was great fun (though admittedly, had there been no hard shoulder to ride along on the main road, I might not be saying this), and after it finished, we were able to dry off a little at a restaurant in the town of Mairipora – about half way to Atibaia, where we would stay the night. We ended up not having much to eat as while we ordered a light lunch, we decided to give up after an hour waiting as we needed to push ahead – annoying at the time, but actually it turned out okay as we were doing good with the energy block bars and we did not end up riding with heavy stomachs.

The rest of the journey up until Atibaia was smooth. While the rain stopped, it still remained cool, which was great for riding up and down the hills; not too much traffic and on the whole good progress along the roads. We were able to get to the entrance of Atibaia by around 6.30pm – around an hour and a half before it would get dark. From Atibaia, we had, however, an additional 12km to ride to get to the guest house where we would stay (Pousada Paiol). Now, there were two ways to get to the guest house; one going largely along the highway and the other, going through the town. I had programmed the route through the town into the GPS. We thought, once we got to the highway exit, maybe it would be better going along the highway, but as the route wasn’t programmed into it, I didn’t want to risk it – we weren’t sure what the roads would be like going through the town, but at least we wouldn’t get lost…

Asphalt road into earth track...

Asphalt road into earth track…

With hindsight, I really should have looked at the satellite views of the roads beforehand – you can clearly see how the surface of road we went over changed in the screenshot – though as it turned out, we would have faced similar conditions eventually had we gone the other way. At least we would have been prepared, psychologically, however..!

Final stretch to guest house

Final stretch to guest house

At first it was fine, but then going through Atibaia commercial centre wasn’t pleasant with lots of traffic and lots of drivers not accustomed to sharing lanes with cyclists. Getting through this we then had a good few hundred metres being shaken around riding over cobblestones. Onto the asphalt after this and then suddenly my back wheel starts making a noise. I get off and can’t see what it is, and see that it can’t turn backwards and it was slightly tight trying to turn it forward. After a while I realize that the screws securing the baggage rack to the bottom of the frame by the wheel had been shaken out and that the top of the rack had fallen down so it was resting on top of the actual wheel (it was pretty hot to touch because of the friction!). It was getting dark as well and we still had a good eight or nine kilometres to go. We had no spare screws so I had to work out how to balance the rack above the gears so it didn’t keep falling on top of the wheel. It worked for a while… until the road turned into an earth and rock track with lots of  bumps and holes to go over and around. Every couple of minutes or so the rack would be coming off and landing on the wheel again. Oh, and Natalia was getting a sore knee (with the shaking from the road her seat had come down a little bit, we realized in the morning). With the darkness coming down, all we wanted to do was to get to the guest house, have some food and rest, and work out whether we would be able to continue to Amparo in the morning or not.

Chalets at Posuada Paiol (photo courtesy of the Pousada  - http://pousadapaiol.com.br/)

Chalets at Posuada Paiol (photo courtesy of the Pousada – http://pousadapaiol.com.br/)

The road continued with intermittent stretches over rough earth and then good asphalt, though night settled in and the lights came on. Getting to our destination was top priority as being out at night in that place wasn’t particularly agreeable. As we got closer to the marker on the GPS, I checked the name of the guest house to make sure we wouldn’t miss it, though with everything that had been going wrong, this was worrying me – would we actually find it…?! And we were quite in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, as we got closer, we saw a sign with the name of the place, telling us to keep going. The baggage rack stayed up and balanced and we were able to slowly but surely get there by 8.30pm – just half an hour before dinner ended. Can’t say I have been much happier to have found a guest house than how I felt then, and the place was well worth the suffering to get to…!

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..!

estrada-da-sta-ines primeiro pedal de dias consecutivos foi um tanto familiar, a jornada de quase 200km entre minha casa e a cidade de Amparo duraram dois dias… O primeiro a boa e velha rota até Atibaia com algumas surpresas e uns 20 km a mais de muita terra e paralelepípedo.
Uma coisa que temos que melhorar e muito são nossos horários de saída. Sei que a maior parte dos atrasos são por minha culpa. Trabalhar 16 horas por dia durante a semana me fazia querer dormir mais e mais durante os finais de semana. Enrolar na cama é algo que sei fazer muito bem e fazer com que o Ben resolva ficar mais 5 minutos já sei fazer isso sem ter que pensar muito.
No sábado saímos de casa umas 8am e fomos na padaria para comer, por um erro de comunicação, nosso tradicional Bauru não chegou nunca e acabamos começando a pedalar com o suco de beterraba, cenoura e laranja e umas coisinhas que tínhamos beliscado. A estrada da Santa Inês parece mais fácil a cada ida, a primeira subida mais curta, e as paisagens ainda me surpreendem.descida
A estrada é assim a cada visita reparamos em algo novo.
Já na estrada do rio acima a chuva começou a cair, e foi daquelas que fica bem dificil de enxergar… O dia todo garoava e parava mas a chuva com ventos e muita água chegou e para minha surpresa fiquei feliz. Como é gostoso pedalar na chuva. Sofro tanto com o sol que nos castiga na maioria dos pedais que pedalar sem ter que parar em toda e qualquer sombra que aparece foi libertador.
Sem dizer que isso me motivou mais sobre o pedal britânico. Certamente dias consecutivos debaixo de chuva serão difíceis, mas acho também que será algo mais efetivo, porque pararemos menos. O frio vai sempre desaquecer nosso corpo e será mais um motivador a seguir sempre em frente até o destino do dia…
Paramos em Mairiporã para comermos algo… Um macarrão é sempre uma opção rápida mas não foi dessa vez. Esperamos por mais de quarenta minutos por uma massa que nunca chegou. Ainda bem, que nesse meio tempo pedimos suco de coco e com dois copos de suco saímos do restaurante e seguimos viagem.
A estrada até Atibaia também parecia ter menos subidas e os carros um tanto amigáveis.
Um pedal tranquilo que ainda nos reservava surpresas.
paisagemChegando em Atibaia o Ben optou em seguir para o hotel em que dormiríamos pela cidade e sair da rodovia. Seria uns 18 km depois do centro. Mas não contåvamos ter que subir em uma avenida com carros que não respeitam nenhuma lei de trânsito e que parecem ver um alvo nas nossas costas. Ao terminar a subida chegou a descida que para me irritar era de paralelepípedo. No fim viramos numa rua e lá a bike do Ben começou a fazer barulho. Demoramos até descobrir que os parafusos do suporte traseiro soltaram e o suporte dos ficava caído sobre a roda. Tentamos fazer uma gambiarra amarrando com umas alças que por sorte tínhamos conosco. Esvaziamos os alforjes e deixamos o peso na minha bike. Mais a frente para o desespero o asfalto sumiu e daqui para frente só víamos muita terra e pedras soltas. Uma hora fui descer da bicicleta e torci meu tornozelo, para aumentar o sacrifício. Alternei as subidas pedalando e empurrando. Seguindo o esforço que meu tornozelo aguentava.
A noite caiu, e lá estávamos nós indo, indo sem nunca chegar no hotel. Víamos placas, pedíamos informações. Mas acho que a irritação com o suporte da bike estar solto, eu com dor no tornozelo e a vontade de chegar logo só fazia parecer que estávamos demorando demais.
Mas uma hora chegou e quando vejo o lugar era incrível com piscina, um visual lindo e um jantar delicioso.
No outro dia muito mais novidades e experiências mas isso eu deixo para o próximo post!
trajeto-sp-atibaia1

Itu pela terceira vez

Posted: October 29, 2012 by Natália Almeida in Cycling
Tags: , , , , , ,

Revirando o site hoje reparei que não postei sobre as idas a Itu.
E nessa terceira viagem eu não poderia deixar passar em branco.
A estrada dos romeiros está entre as minhas prediletas. Cheias de curvas e subidas, e as mudanças e paisagem pelo caminho só a tornam ainda mais especial. O rio Tiete nos acompanha por boa parte do trajeto e só nos mostra que se cuidássemos mais da natureza que nos cerca seríamos abençoados com um cheiro de frescor e uma mata rica. Pena que a poluição que vemos no tiete aqui na cidade de São Paulo já assola o rio nos 100 km que segue para Itu.
Os desafios esse pedal mudam de cidade em cidade de Barueri a Santana do Parnaíba é um passeio sem muitas subidas a média desse trecho é superior a 20km/h. Já de Santana do Parnaíba o calor e o sol escaldante são de matar. Árvores e sombras são coisas raras por isso não resisto de fazer um brake para a água a cada trechinho fresco que nos surpreende pelo caminho. Já em Pirapora temos que preparar bem a cabeça porque as subidas nos próximos 10km são de dois tipos ou longas e intermináveis ou paredes onde a pedalada parece mais uma escalada. Por causa do horário de verão o sol na cabeça parecia ser sempre o de meio-dia, e me vi usando a água que economizo para beber me banhando diversas vezes. A cada subida conquistada tentava me lembrar quais ainda faltavam. O Ben sempre em frente subindo com facilidade as ladeiras que me desafiavam a cada metro.
Ao chegar em Cabreúva somos presenteados com muita árvore e uma brisa fresca. Essa realmente é a parte que mais gosto, não tem como não ficar feliz em ter sombras mais constantes. A média e 20.7km/h que fizemos até Pirapora caiu para 19,1 km/h, não que eu me preocupe com médias porque encaro ciclo-turismo como passeio e não como competição, ou em querer chegar mais rápido mas é bom falar disso pra poder entender como as subidas de Pirapora torturam a gente…
De Cabreúva até Itu é um passeio, com algumas subidas de leve e em alguns pontos com vento contra mas nada que nos atrapalhe.
Dessa vez chegamos em Itu com o sol a pino o que não me permitiu não para e fazer um lanche em baixo da ponte antes da rodovia.
Chegar em Itu é sempre bem gostoso, a cidade é uma graça e cheia de opções para comer, ontem tivemos a agradável companhia da minha amiga Gisele e posso dizer que até janeiro tenho motivos de sobra pra ir muito mais vezes para Itu.
Amanhã posto um álbum com fotos dessa e das outras duas pedaladas pela estrada dos Romeiros.

Brussels Express from Sander Vandenbroucke on Vimeo.

Bruxelas é uma das cidades mais congestionadas da Europa, com uma população de mais de 1,8 milhões o transito na cidade é agressivo e caótico. O uso de bicicletas tem começado a crescer timidamente na cidade, mas a falta de espaço nas ruas e o desrespeito por parte dos motoristas de carros não encorajam aqueles que querem fazer da bike seu meio de locomoção.

O governo busca por opções para diminuir esse problema e investem em projetos que aumentam os custos do automóvel, do licenciamento e estudam instalar  um pedágio urbano no centro da cidade. Investimento em educaçao e ciclovia ara garantir uma migração de parte da população para meios alternativos como bicicleta, skate e patins não estão nos plano dos chefes da cidade, que não enxergam que qualquer outro tio de medida é paliativa.

Escrevo sobre isso hoje porque vejo as semelhanças entre Bruxelas e São Paulo, e por isso que indico que vocês assistam esse mini doc que explica os problemas enfrentados no trânsito de lá e em como os ciclistas ativos dessa cidade acreditam que esse problema crescente pode ser resolvido.

 

Pirapora do Bom Jesus

A little while ago, after completing the Santos Challenge with André and his group, filled with a bit of confidence for long distance riding, Natalia and I went on a long ride by ourselves to Itu, a 105km ride from our house, along the Estrada dos Romeiros road. Most of the cars that go to Itu would take the perfectly maintained, smooth and straight Castelo Branco highway, which is much more direct, for the large part of the journey. The Estrada dos Romeiros is still nicely maintained, with good asphalt and not really any potholes that could throw an unwitting cyclist, though there are plenty of hills and bends to go along and it doesn’t have much of a hard shoulder which is always nice to have to protect against some of the more vicious drivers around…

Ciclotur para Itu conhecendo as cidades turísticas, Santana do Parnaíba , SPThe day we ended up going to Itu was a Sunday and it eventually turned out to be one of the hottest days in the year. Okay, when you are riding you get cooled down by the wind going past, though that wind diminishes massively when you are going up those hills and it turned into quite an exhausting journey – we drank a good few litres of water, Gatorade… more water, coconut water (thank goodness there were places along the route where we could stop off and restock!). At the town of Barueri, just as we got to the main road, the hills began in earnest with a short but a sharp 15-20% climb… then after this it was constant up and down, with little or no shade.

The countryside as we left the city was great – plenty of green, and a river going by; just no substantial tree cover at least for the first 50km or so. We stopped off at the historic town of Santana de Paraiba, which has a lovely historic centre and market, and also at a quick break at Pirapora, a good 17km further along the highway. We didn’t spend long there, though it was definitely one of the more picturesque places I have been through for some time. After Pirapora, a few more rather lethal climbs through long exposed sections of the road, and eventually the number of trees by the road increased and we were able to have more time cycling in the shade, which helped make life easier. With all the trees and with stretches of the road going along the river, it almost felt like we were going through some areas of Canada – very lovely, and made up for the suffering beforehand!

One of the more shocking sides to the journey, however, was the amount of pollution in the river. Pirapora was lovely and picturesque, but you could see foam in the river (which flows from São Paulo city) which originated from pollutants. As we got towards Itu, there were stretches of the river that you could not actually see any of the water – just this white foam that was a good foot or two deep. Not nice. It is amazing to me that nothing appears in the news about all of it as am sure it can’t be healthy. Talking to people later and we were told that when the wind picks up, the foam gets blown into the towns and can cause burns…

We managed the journey comfortably in the end, taking it easy with good breaks and going on average about 17kph (there was one great, long, clear, smooth downhill where I went up to 65kph… quite an exhilarating change from the tortuous uphill that preceded it!). We left at 8am and got to Itu at about 5.30pm. It was great getting there and we were able to find a German restaurant recommended by our friends where we were able to relax a bit before bundling our bikes into a bus and heading back to São Paulo. On the learning side of things, I did get a punctured tyre… and we didn’t have a spatula with us… Guys at our bike store had shown us how to take off a tyre without the tools and made it look quite easy, but it sure wasn’t as easy for us. Fortunately this was at Santana de Paraiba, and there were other cyclists around who were able to help us. First thing we did when we had time in São Paulo: yes, buying spatulas and a better couple of repair kits!

In the middle of all the cycling trips, we are still continuing our training at Casa de Pedra, working in the gym there and the climbing wall, which we are doing on a daily basis during the week. Though climbing is going to feature less than we originally thought when we started out on this project, it is still important for the physical aspect – developing our upper body and abdominal strength as well as the psychological aspect.

Working with Fabio is going well, with a mixture of endurance and strength training, along with occasional jogs for a few kilometres out by the road. On the climbing wall, we are doing training such as three consecutive walls which are within my comfort zone, and then a break for a couple of minutes, then three more… continuing like this for an hour so until am pretty much exhausted. Once that is done, a few different types of situps for the abs,  training with elastic stretch bands for the shoulder muscles, and some general leg stretches.

And with Luciana at the gym… just switching between legs, abs, biceps/triceps, shoulders… just to get a good all round level of fitness. This is followed by an hour run on the treadmill, where I normally run about 11km or so and am also able to speed up towards the end rather than breathlessly collapsing as I might have done had I done this a few months ago. Training here is definitely not my favorite part of the week – am really not a big fan of weights but it is all needed to get in as good a condition as possible. With the running, I just keep working out the maths in my head to help time pass… what percentage of the run have I completed? If I have run x km after 2 and a half minutes, how many kilometres will I run after 6 minutes… straight forward math, but when am running it just takes a bit longer than it normally would to work out, and before I know it a good few minutes have passed and before I know it have run five or six kilometres. And, at the end of it all, a protein drink with a mixture of glutamine, creatine, whey protein, coco, honey and sugar cane, to help ensure I don’t burn muscle when exercising and to help muscle growth.

The Pão de Açucar São Paulo marathon was held a week or so ago. I definitely wasn’t in condition to run it this year, but I think that going like I am at the moment, it should be fun to do next year, and it would be a good intermediate goal – just hope it won’t be ridiculously hot.

Na entrada da rota de manutenção já tinha uma subida, não muito longa, não muito curta. Paramos ao fim e fizemos um pic-nic. Sentamos e dividimos um pouco das frutas, pães e castanhas que tínhamos. Todo mundo que pedalavam e nos via ria ou fazia algum comentário. Rimos e papeamos por uns 15 minutos e depois seguimos em frente. Parte do trecho de terra parte no asfalto, nenhuma grande dificuldade até onde estava o André e cia para checar os freios da galera.

Bike checada, e seguimos viagem.  As paisagens pelo caminho foram maravilhosas, me distraiam um pouco. A Mata Atlântica é cheia de cores, cheia de verdes. O ar úmido e gelado era bem gostoso, depois de tanto sol na cabeça e de tanto calor da pedalada, esse clima me agradava.  Nas descidas eu controlava minha velocidade mas não segurava o freio. A estrada tinha de um lado morro e do outro um precipício que em alguns momentos só tinha um muro baixo de mais ou menos 25 cm de altura de proteção. No caminho me peguei pensando para que servia esse muro e cheguei a conclusão que era pra salvar a bike numa possível perda de controle do ciclista, o ciclista voa precipício abaixo mas a bike fica.

Paramos em uma cacheira, lavamos o rosto na bica, respiramos ar puro e conhecemos um novo canto remoto. Em um dia tantas coisas, tantas vistas, tantas cores. Antes mesmo de terminar  o percurso minha mente seguia repetindo as imagens num processo de tentar guardar cada detalhe de forma a não ser esquecido. Me vi num passeio ao invés de um desafio. Mas como dizemos na escalada toda via tem um crux e o dessa via uma hora ia chegar. A essa altura eu tinha concluído que o crux tinha sido a primeira subida lá no Grajaú, mas de repente vejo uma subida com boa parte da galera a frente empurrando e quem pedalava tinha uma cara sofrida.

Parei a bike no início, bebi algumas goladas de água, respirei fundo e fui. Com calma, controlando a ansiedade e a respiração. Só parei na hora que um ciclista que empurrava a bike entrou na minha frente e parou, isso me irritou um bocado, pedi pra galera que empurrava tentar ficar do mesmo lado e deixar um lado livre para aqueles que tentavam pedalar.  Subi na bike e recomecei, começar a pedalar na subida é algo um tanto complicado, tentei 3 vezes até conseguir, no topo lá estava o Ben me esperando, vi em seu rosto a felicidade ao ver que consegui chegar lá em cima sem empurrar, em seu olhar eu conseguia ver o orgulho e isso me deixava ainda mais realizada. Desci da bike e comemorei com ele.  Sentamos comemos e ficamos papeando com quem já estava por lá. Dali em diante foi uma descida interminável até Cubatão.

A saída do parque Serra do Mar é num bairro bem pobre e pra evitar assaltos seguimos unidos, a orientação era de irmos num grupo sólido até a ciclovia de Santos. Passando a rodoviária eu já me sentia super feliz, chegar ao quiosque então era uma mistura de diversos sentimentos bons.

Para comemorar comemos lula, peixe e tomamos muito suco, certeza que a nossa nutricionista Isabella vai ficar feliz em saber que escolhemos esse cardápio no lugar de breja e batata frita.

Esse foi um trajeto difícil, ainda mais quando se pensar em descer pra praia, mas olhando pra trás, depois de Sorocaba, Santos não foi tão difícil assim.

Igrejinha do Bororé

Igrejinha do Bororé

Depois de tanto tempo finalmente consegui parar para escrever como foi a nossa descida para Santos, antes de mais nada já vou logo avisando que quando eu for para a Baixada de bicicleta nunca mais vou usar o termo descer e sim subir. Desci bastante mas mesmo depois de 100km a sensação de que mais subi não saiu da minha cabeça. Inclusive agora, depois de quase um mês essa sensação e essa certeza não passou.

Quem quiser conferir a rota!

Uma parte do caminho já havíamos feito na ida para Rio Grande da Serra, então  eu já sabia que logo no começo, para ser mais específica no Grajaú eu teria que subir uma “parede”, na primeira vez eu não havia conseguido e tinha empurrado a bike até o topo, dessa vez fui determinada a fazer diferente e não empurrar em nenhum momento. O complicado ali era a grande quantidade de carros você tinha que pedalar cm calma e prestando atenção no que vinha de trás, venci a subida mesmo com um pouco de falta de ar ao final, mas depois de um gole de água tudo estava bem e segui em frente. Nos perdemos às vezes na rota, mas porque o Galo que nos guiava não conhecia bem esse novo trajeto montado pelo André, foi até engraçado porque uma hora pegamos um caminho com subidas e descidas longas e depois vimos que fizemos o caminho errado voltamos e ao fazer o caminho certo saímos no mesmo lugar uma quadra acima. Na hora parte do grupo ficou um tanto irritado com o desgaste desnecessário, mas eu achei graça.

O bairro do Grajaú é um ótimo treino para subidas e para andar em lugar com grande tráfego de carros, mas a grande quantidade de micro-ônibus me deixava tensa, por isso chegar na balsa foi um alívio. A Ilha do Bororé é um show. O cenário é muito bonito, a estrada um verdadeiro charme e me vejo impressionada sempre que penso que um lugar assim tão calmo, recluso e cheio de mata está dentro de São Paulo. Apesar da estrada ser estreita e de duas vias, há poucos carros e pedalar por ali chega a ser relaxante.  Passando por sítios, vendinhas e fazendas pequenas você se distrai muito fácil e o tempo passa rápido. Dessa vez após a segunda balsa viramos a direita onde pegamos 600 metros de subida em asfalto. Foi bem sossegado mas ao chegar no topo nos deparamos com uma descida de terra e pedras soltas, teve gente que chegou a desistir e voltou, eu fiquei receosa porque ainda não havia superado o medo de descidas e não sou tão experiente na junção terra e ladeira. Mas fui no meu ritmo, do meu jeito. Alguns passaram ao meu lado a todo vapor que chegava a subir uma nuvem de fumaça a minha frente. Mas nem assim arrisquei imitar. Por aqui também tivemos subidas difíceis mas consegui. Na maior parte do tempo estava com o Almir, Ricardo e Vitor. E isso me deixava mais segura. Uma equipe unida, eu diria, um esperando e dando suporte ao outro.

Trecho de terra na Ilha do Bororé

O Ben seguia a frente mas também com o porte e a facilidade que ele tem em subidas seria injusto e um tanto cruel obrigá-lo a seguir conosco, porém depois de uma descida muito íngreme ou de uma subida estúpida lá estava ele me esperando e checando se consegui chegar bem. E isso me deixava tranquila.

Para entrar na Imigrantes tivemos que carregar as bikes morro acima, e para ficar mais fácil fizemos uma corrente, cada um passava a bicicleta para o outro até chegar ao último que a encostava no muro ao lado da pista. O trecho que pedalamos pela rodovia foi curto mas bem difícil porque estávamos no contra fluxo e a resistência do vento foi um adversário de peso. Nessa hora lembrei de um texto que li em algum blog e cheguei rir em pensamento – “Pedalar numa subida muito íngreme é como comprar uma casa financiada cada parcela é difícil mas ao final você tem uma conquista, pedalar contra o vento é pagar aluguel, é uma energia imensa para algo momentâneo”. Acho que pensar nisso me ocupou e quando menos esperei cheguei na entrada da estrada de manutenção, mas o resto desse desafio fica para o próximo post.

Parada para água e reabastecimento!

Abaixo o trajeto que faremos hoje:

Partindo da praça do Ciclista ali na Paulista às 7h30, rumaremos sentido Zona norte onde pegaremos a Engenheiro Caetanos Alvares e a Estrada Santa Inês. Com o dia promete ser chuvoso só desafios iram além das subidas e descidas intermináveis. Uma experiência nova!

Um total de 95 km que você poderá acompanhar pelas fotos que iremos postar pelo caminho.

Sente o drama do gráfico de altimetria:

Bom Dia mundial sem carro para você, e use isso como desculpa para dar uma pedalada ela cidade que estará repleta de ciclofaixas em pleno sábado. (http://g1.globo.com/sao-paulo/noticia/2012/09/cet-ira-montar-ciclofaixas-em-sp-no-dia-mundial-sem-carro.html)

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.

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.