Our MBUK readers are always embarking on epic journeys in far flung places, usually for charity, sometimes just for the sheer hell of it.
We decided to follow two of them – 22-year-old Cambridge student Ben Talbot and 21-year-old Bristol Uni student James Gozney – as they set off for the Vuelta Sudamericana, a race that is being billed as the longest and most gruelling ever to be organised! We wish them well…
Ben Talbot writes…
Looking down the barrel of a month in the saddle, we sort all our kit out in the motherland. Our Bianchi bikes are kitted out and we are stashed up with the latest in budget gear (with chamois cream thrown in in abundance). As we prepare to take on the first two sections of Vuelta Sudamericana – the longest organised bike tour in the world – we will ride from Rio de Janerio to Buenos Aires, the equivalent distance of the Tour de France at 3500km, in 25 riding days. With a target of GBP25,000 to raise for charity, this bike race has a lot riding on it!
James and I head out to Rio for our training. Hitting the slopes of Rio was a shock, the steepest ascents in England look like kiddy rides in comparison. They aren´t long but wow, they are steep.
We took one 550m climb up to a hang gliding platform up cobbled roads with crazy Brazilian bus drivers trying to cut us up at every blind corner. We got up in 45 minutes. We descended in 5, hitting 72km/hour on route.
Visiting Jesus the next day was a pretty similar story; 704m above the beaches, involving sheer, winding roads that make any ski resort access look like the M4 – but even Jesus wasn´t higher than us that day!
The general vibe for training in Rio was survival: survival from the crazy weekly street parties and favela raves, with their extra strength caipirinhas, to the tunnels of death that connect the various suburbs of Rio – the tunnel traffic noise amplified better than your 6x9s and the buses that compete to take your ear off.
Rio was a great place to start our tour. The vibrant city nightlife, the vast beaches, the gruelling mountain roads and to top off the training we didn´t get mugged!
And now we’re ready for the start of Vuelta Sudamericana. Find out how we get on in our next blog…
More info: on the charities and casues that the guys are riding for:
British cyclist aims to break round-the-world record
Click Mountain Biking UK to subscribe to the magazine
New issue of MBUK with Free Carabiner Keyring On sale Wednesday 26th August