20,000km the stats
We reached 20,000km just south of Salvador on the Brazilian coast. Idyllic sounding, it was actually the rainiest day of our cycle trip around South America so far, and we only stopped for a few minutes to celebrate before getting back in the saddle for a day thinking about moments from the road.
It seems a long time since we marked 10,000km in the Sechuara Desert, Peru. Since then we’ve climbed many a long, steep road through the Andes in Ecuador and Colombia; explored the lost world of the Gran Sabana in Venezuela; traversed the oft-forgotten Guyanas, three countries unique and removed from the continent they sit in; and, now, we find ourselves back in Brazil, crossing this huge country where our journey started and, very shortly, will finish too.
We won’t make 30,000km on this trip. Most likely our finishing total when we reach Rio de Janeiro will be 21,500km. So whilst we daydream about where next to pedal to get the remaining 8,500km, it’s time to look back on our highlights of 10-20,000km.
On the bike
- Steepest road – Brazil wins for the ridiculous 20 per cent gradients on the dirt road stretch through the Amazon rainforest from Oipaoque to Calcoene in the very north of Brazil.
- Worst tarmac road – Venezuela’s road in the centre of the country were in a terrible state, thanks to President Chavez’s Socialist policy of removing road tolls – it might mean everybody can afford to drive, but with roads like that, who wants to?
- Worst dirt road – Attempting the stretch from Lethem to Georgetown in Guyana, after rain, was a bad idea. We were pushing through thick mud and wading through puddles up to the panniers.
- Wettest riding – For the sheer amount of rain that can fall at once, it has to be Colombia, cycling up a mountain whilst a river of water flows down the road carrying small debris was an interesting experience.
- Number of times crossed the Equator – Twice. The first in Ecuador just to the north of the capital, Quito. The second time was cycling back into the southern hemisphere near Macapa where we caught a boat across the Amazon River.
- Hottest riding – The interior of Brazil is scorching with temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius.
- Highest speed – 149.7kmph for Laura and 149.5kmph for Paddy just a few days ago. It may be time to get some new cycle computers!
Off the bike
- Best camping – Perfect wild spots in the rainforest in French Guyana.
- Best food – Difficult to make a decision between cachapas in Venezuela and Suriname’s curries.
- Longest boat ride – The 30 hours that it took to cross the Amazon River from Macapa to Belem, Brazil.
- Friendliest place – Colombia, Venezuela and the interior of Brazil all compete for this title. It seems the more of the tourist trail we get the friendlier people are.
- Best cocktails – It still has to be Brazil’s caiparinhas, strong and delicious wherever you try them. Especially the slushy versions served in Belem’s bars.
- Best wine – French reds with stinky cheeses in French Guyana, such a treat.
- Best tourist sight – Angel Falls, Venezuela as an organised trip. Spotting giant leatherback turtles laying eggs on the beaches in French
- Guyana was an amazing, unplanned experience.