onsdag 22 februari 2012

cycling in Rio de janeiro brazil

Cycling in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio – beaches, beautiful people, favela’s and nice climate. Not only. You can also cycle in Rio de Janeiro.

I decided to go to Brazil since I always dreamt about it. But I did not want to loose valuable training time. So I thought, why not bring my bike with me as I usually always do on my trips. But before going there I did some research and I could not find any information about the possibilities for a road cyclist to get good training and how to get around in Rio.
Now I just came back from 3 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and I want to share my experiences so that other people can go to Rio as well.
Even though I am Swedish I have decided to write this in ”Swenglish”. But I hope you will understand me anyhow.
First of all! This is for road cyclist’s but I have never seen so many MTB’s in my life around Rio. So I guess even mountain bikers will get there share of cycling if they go there.
As I said I could not find any information about renting bikes, where to ride, with whom to ride, how to bring my bike, how to get around. So my first shot was to contact some different bikeshops to get some info. The only one to answer me was All Track and a very nice guy named Pedro. He answered my first question. It is NOT possible to rent a bike in Rio. Just forget it. You have to bring your own bike.
Since I was afraid of loosing everything I own in Rio I brought my old 1970’ Derosa epoca bike. No problem in the customs coming to Brazil and the bike in good order after the flight.
Then I went to see Pedro. He hooked me up with a nice guy named Hilario who started to show me Vista Chinese. This seems to be the most important climb for the Rio cyclist’s both in terms of vicinity to the city and also when it comes to prestige. It is here you should set a good time. I think everybody considers anything less then 18 minutes to be a reasonable time for that climb.
The next day I went on my own to try to do some distance training on the flat. But I could not find any flat roads at all. Only climbs. So I ended up going up and down Ipanema and Copacabana beach. That’s ok also and you get to see a lot of people and they get to see you.
The third day I met this really really nice guy who later became a good friend. Luca, Italian guy who has been living in Rio since 1998. He was a former road cyclist from Italy who’s really been around. He told mer a little bit more what to do.
First of all at 07.00 in the mornings there are a lot of cyclists climbing Vista Chinesa which starts just behind Jardim Botanico.
Then on Wednesday’s and Friday’s at 05.00 there is interval biketraining with a group of cyclists/triathletes in Leblon/Ipanema beach.  This group is trained by a guy named Walter Tushe. I think a good idea before going there is to contact Walter just before the training starts at 04.45 and ask him if it is ok that you participate. They meet up just in the middle between the both beaches. Why so early? – Because then the traffic starts.
Monday is quite calm in Rio as in most cycling countries.
Tuesday’s and Thursday’s you can go to the same spot as Wednesday and Friday. And there will be a group of less experienced triathletes training between 05.00 and 06.10.
On Saturdays and Sundays there are almost always cyclists meeting up at the end of Leblon beach at the clock tower at 06.00 – 06.15. And then they go for a ride south. They go to Sao Conrado, Barra and there they sometimes meet up with a really big group of competitive cyclists at Avenida da Americas in Barra. At 07.00. Or sometimes they just go on their own in the climbs around Rio.
If you start at 06.15 NOT LATER and get out of Ipanema/Leblon beach towards Barra you can go all the way down to Prainha and a little bit beyond. That was the best flat route I did except for training on the beach.
Then I know but I have not done it. That cyclists from Rio leave the city and meet up at a gas station outside Rio and train on the highway up to Petropolis.
I also know that the big group of cyclist’s in Barra sometimes go to the Ayrton Senna race track and do racetraining as even regular races in the weekend’s. That is cool.
My overall impression of Rio as a European cyclist. Is that cycling is of course not at all on a European level. But there is also a very relaxed and cozy atmosphere around both Carioca and the Brazilian cyclist. It is not as serious as European cycling can be, for better or for worse. And the climate is really perfect. Especially if you go early in the morning. I promise you, strangely enough you get really used to it. I mean get up at 04.30 to train at 05.00 how strange it even might sound.
You will get god training going uphill (some hills are 9 km) you will get less training on the flat
People are really friendly and they think it is cool that you are European and are training with them. There are also quit some European cyclist’s that I met that are working and living in Rio.
So I definitely suggest you bring your bike on your trip to Rio. Go early and then go to the beach and have the whole day free. It is perfect.
Some useful tips.
  • Do not even attempt to buy anything like bike accessories in Brazil. The prices are at least triple from Europe.
  • Bring a lot of spare tubes as it is easy to puncture.
  • Bring extra water bottles as it is easy to loose them on the bumpy roads.
  • Be aware of the traffic.
  • Go early in the morning (less sun, less traffic, more cyclist’s)
  • Do not be afraid. There are police officers in every corner. (next time I am brining my normal bike)
  • Speak to Pedro at All-track or Gustavo at Tri shop.
  • Be prepared to wash a lot of cycling clothes. The roads are dirty.
  • Bring your license and participate in a race or two while you are there.
  • Be careful going downhill since the roads are not perfect. And if you train early in the morning , use clear lenses on your glasses and you will see the bumps easier. The shadows and the sun in the forest downhills are tricky.
  • Put sun protection even if training early in the morning.
  • Drink at least 3 coconuts a day. They hydrate much more than normal water. And it tastes very nice.

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