Rbike-1280

So many locals had warned us against leaving Rio by bike that it almost came as a disappointment to find the route we chose was absolutely fine. We’re used to riding in cities, which helped; as, too, did our decision to head out early on a Sunday morning, when the traffic is much reduced from its midweek excesses. The downside is that at weekends, the city’s segregated beachside bike paths are swamped with cyclists, inline skaters, skateboarders, joggers, joggers with dogs, joggers with strollers, ambling pedestrians, more joggers, coconut salesmen, ice cream hawkers and countless other menaces. Still, it’s a trade worth making.

200km from Santa Teresa, our main problem is, reassuringly, exactly what we thought it would be. When friends have marvelled at the levels of fitness required to tackle this sort of trip, we’ve tended to cough into our hands and quickly change the subject – for various reasons, some good (Will broke his hip seven months ago) and some due to mere indolence, we’re both as unfit as at any time in the last decade. Hauling 30kg of luggage up a 1,000ft climb in humid, 85-degree heat is hard enough without the knowledge that you haven’t done a 70-mile day ride in eight months and you’re struggling to get into a shirt that surely wasn’t this tight the last time it had an outing.

Which is fine. We’re in no rush to get anywhere, and for all the sweat we’ve expended, we’re moving at last. Speed can wait.

from Angra dos Reis, Brazil