Monday, April 11, 2011

the adventure begins in Brazil

Yesterday I flew to Florianopolis, Brazil from NYC for two 5 day stage races. The first leg was to Sao Paulo. A fun nine hours on the plane, a short layover, and then an hour hop to my final destination. I was greeted by my teammates around midnight and learned one of their bikes never showed up, and was stuck in customs somewhere in Brazil. We spoke with the airline management then headed to the hotel. A quick beer, sleep, and today we hit the road in our giant van which easily handles all our gear.

We are living like pros these days. Free room and board, a mechanic taking care of our bikes, a driver and touring van, and tomorrow we pick up a rental car to trail us each day at the races.

Today we drove about 6 hours south to Gravatai, Brazil to be near the first stage race which starts on Wednesday. Hot and sunny, beautiful, very green scenery with an ocean view to the east the entire drive, the six hours flew by. We broke up the drive and stopped for lunch at a road side churraceria bbq where we pigged out on grilled local beef and pork and a buffet bar.

We arrived in Gravatai in the early afternoon, built the bikes, and hit the road. I brought my camera along but quickly realized a photo op was not going to happen. A video game featuring road cyclists began, and unfortunately we only had one life. Immediately upon leaving the hotel, chaos ensued, huge trucks buzzing by with no shoulder, cracks that eat tires for lunch, and potholes that were perfectly sized to swallow wheels and maybe even the cyclist.

Our training ride took part mostly on the Interstate where it’s illegal to ride bikes. According to our Brazilian teammate this was the best option and also the safest since it has a shoulder. Loud and constantly being passed by semi’s, I eventually found the zone and got a good workout. The road was perfectly flat and straight so it was very easy to pound away on the pedals at a constant pace. It felt great to open the legs after so many hours of travel!

Then I got a flat tire. A quick change, and we turned around to head to the hotel. About 3/4th the way back we decided to take the rural roads for the remainder of the ride.

Highlights include Al drafting a car worth about 1/4th the value of his bike, a few wild horses eating grass inches from the road looking at us like we definitely did not belong, witnessing shacks with nothing but a TV and 6 people living in them, roads that make Paris-Roubaix look easy, people and bikes going in every direction while inches to the left bumper to bumper cars were fighting their way home.

The power maybe was inconsistent but the heart rate was pegged!

We shall see what tomorrow brings us. Hopefully a few pictures to accompany the words!

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