I’ve now been on the road for 4 months since I left Porto Alegre on 21st Jan, and since there’s now two of us, here for the first time is a blog post by someone other than me!
I give you guest blogger Martin (I’ve not read this before publishing!)…
So it’s nearly a week in to my cameo on the last stage, and I’ve been invited by Andy to guest on his blog. For those that don’t know, my elder brother Andy is 6400+ kilometres into an 8000k navigation of Brazil by bicycle.
I’m pretty knackered so far, more from the heat and humidity than just distance. The constant loading and unloading, Packing and unpacking of panniers. Moving constantly onwards against the clock to make the daily distance before sunset (for road safety reasons) and the weekly schedule that sees us catch our boat from Belem up the Amazon to Manaus, to the end. I’m really enjoying it all tho and the vastness of this place provides both the awe and the rub. The endless skies and the endless roads! Through equatorial heat and the occasional biblical deluge. Every time I zoom out on Google Maps to marvel at what I’ve done, it hits home that we’ve really not gone very far at all! 5 days of cycling, 430 odd kilometres down, and I’m really appreciating more and more what Andy has achieved on his trip traversing the whole of this country. He looks tired! If his grouchiness over the last few days is any kind of measure of the effort he has put into this trip, then he has put in a huge amount of effort. I know he is a bit disappointed not to have raised more for his causes, but also very grateful to those who’ve already pledged their support, willing him forwards.
Mostly we are following the coast. Or as near as the tarmac roads run diverting themselves around various estuaries running to the sea. So mostly the sea is well out of view many kilometres off to our right. As such we’ve run through a few seaside resorts of sorts. Some inland a short drive from the vast dunes and beaches. Out of season there seems very little real purpose to any place we’ve been. The same can be said for the other towns that have seemed to have stuck to the few junctions and sharp turns in the roads. But maybe that’s just how it is outside the big famous cities. Small communities just getting along, doing whatever is necessary to keep a roof over their heads. You wouldn’t last long here without some shelter however basic.
The great thing about cycling is that you can get perspective. Fast enough to cover some distance, but slow enough to notice the places you pass through and the people who live there. Frankly for us stopping is generally a necessity for restocking on food and drinks as we leapfrog our way across the 20-100km gaps between settlements. Most people are clearly not well off at all. The vastness of Brazil again a factor to leave these people well and truly on the fringe. It’s hard to see how these communities would ever feel any inclusion within or reap any benefits from the upcoming spectaculars about to take place in their great country. It’s clear to see why many have raised questions about the money spent on constructing and hosting the World Cup and Olympics. Of course Wembley stadium cost more to build than any number of British peoples houses, and tickets are not affordable to every UK household but here the disparity is so much wider. Many in Brazil want this money spent on healthcare and education. Who could argue with that? Of course you don’t see multinational brands lining up to sponsor hospitals. But why shouldn’t they? Have the likes of Budweiser, Castrol or McDonalds ever considered trying to invest in people at a community level instead?
This brings me nicely onto Andy’s causes, The Laureus Foundation and the Watford FC Trust, who are doing exactly that. Making a difference to ordinary people in many communities. Sport for good. I think these are great causes. I have benefitted myself greatly from being involved in sport in my life. A huge part of my self esteem, especially in formative years came from being part of clubs and teams. This is a great gift to give to those in formative societies.
So here’s the idea. I see a lot of validity with the questions raised about direction of investment. Why can’t a greater good become of these worldwide sporting events? Should not any major sponsor be compelled to divert at least a small portion of their funds to help shape communities that may not otherwise see any benefit? Not waiting for the trickle down effect benefit suggested by promotion of whole countries. As such wouldn’t an investment in charities such a Laureus be a great way for these big brands to show they are not just heartless money machines? I’m calling out The World Cup sponsors to DOUBLE the money they find in the Samba Cycle sponsorship pot! Currently at just over £3000, what is another 3,6,12 thousand to these guys considering the investment they’ve already made? After all how much more could any one individual give to make a real difference. It’s time for the global powerhouses to step in and help us along!
So I hope to see each major sponsor double the pot. The sooner they pay the less they’ll have to stump up. They’ll get good press and exposure for doing so. We’ll hound them until they do so! Of course any donations from others in the meantime will only increase the pot and the amount they’ll need to pay! Tournament sponsors are: http://m.fifa.com/worldcup/organisation/partners/index.html
So we need to get their attention, and twitter is really the only way. Please, please circulate this blog post with the following hashtags:
Please share with friends on all social media platforms you can and retweet anything you see directed at the sponsors. Lets get this movement going! In the meantime, we’ll keep cycling.
Martin (Smudger Jnr) Smith