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One of the dozen or so jokes that Ronnie Scott used to tell in weary rotation between the acts at his jazz club involved a drummer checking in for a flight to New York.

‘Could you send my bass drum to Berlin, my snare drum to Paris, my cymbals to Delhi and my suitcase to Rome?’ relayed Scott, laconically on a good night and catatonically on a bad one.

‘No,’ replied the airline staffer. ‘Why?’

‘Well, that’s what you did last time.’

I was reminded of this gag when I switched on my phone in Rio de Janeiro airport’s baggage hall to find, via a text message, that British Airways had failed to place one of our four pieces of luggage on our plane. As one, two and eventually three bags and boxes emerged through the chute, it became apparent which one was missing. Starting a 20,000km bicycle ride might be tricky without a bicycle.

Left in a hotel room to ponder what to do next. Give up and come home? Buy a bike in Brazil and take a chance with it? Set out on foot and extend the trip by a decade? The last idea seemed like the best one. Two days later, though, a cheery courier rolled up to our hotel with the bike in the back of his car. Nothing can go wrong now.

from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil