I fell off my bike the other day! Or rather the front wheel slipped on the uneven, wet tarmac sending both me and Dinly skidding sideways onto the road – no damage done though, thankfully, just a few small grazes for me and some minor fixes for Dinly, like reattaching the chain.
This happened on the road into Unai, after cycling 100km north from Paracatu on Friday, the last few hours of which were in heavy rain. I was zooming along on a slight downhill, glanced at my Garmin for a second to check the route, then looked up to see that the hard shoulder in front had subsided into a hole to the right, so quickly had to swerve left but a ridge of tarmac along the edge of the road plus a lot of rainwater meant crash, bang, wallop and suddenly I was laying on my side in the middle of the road. Quickly unclipped from the pedals and jumped up, luckily there was no vehicle passing right then! Dragged Dinly off the road and checked us both for damage but surprisingly we both seemed fine, phew.
I cycled on slowly after that and was really glad to reach Ivete‘s apartment, she’s a friend of Kico’s mum who’d offered to put me up for the night. It was good to get out of the rain since the temperature had dropped to 17 degrees and I actually felt slightly chilly for once! Ivete’s son and husband spoke basic English so over dinner we hatched a plan to drive the 160km to Brasilia the next morning since they were heading there anyway to go to a rodeo (proper farming country around here) and I had nowhere to stay between the two cities. So that’s what we did.
The countryside on the road to Brasilia is pretty remarkable; from lumpy, uneven hills and valleys to wide, flat fields with huge circular irrigation systems (look at the satellite image, it’s freaky), so I was a bit gutted not to be cycling through it. But judging by the speed we were driving at and style of overtaking trucks along the way, I was quite glad not to be pootling along at the edge of this stretch of road.
Eventually we stopped at the northern edge of Brasilia where my next host Luciano was waiting to guide me into the city, he’s a mountain biker and had kindly cycled out to meet me. The ride into the city was along one long, straight road where we mostly followed the empty ‘presidential lane’ in the centre of the highway. This was my first glimpse of the many unique features of this planned city.
I must admit that I’ve never really been looking forward to coming here, compared to most of the other World Cup stadium cities, but I have to say that Brasilia is a fascinating and incredible place, I’m really quite amazed by it! I won’t try to explain the history or layout here, but I encourage you to read the Wiki link above, or this BBC article which gives an interesting insight into the place.
Luciano’s lived here all his life (apart from a year in Oz and NZ) so he’s hugely knowledgeable and happy to point out and explain things to me as we’ve cycled and driven about. For example, he lives in SQS 402, which means in a residential area two ‘superblocks’ south of the central strip (aka Monumental Axis) and on the east side of the main highway that we entered the city by – there are no road names here, just a series of these codes that actually make clear sense once you learn the logic. And as he told me yesterday: “They say there are no corners in Brasilia”, so the traffic flows really well, I guess not too surprising since the city was designed for cars when they were considered to be the future of transport back in the 1960’s!
Anyway, I took a few pics yesterday which might give you some idea of what it’s like here…
We stopped to see the Changing of the Flag Ceremony (something like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace) which takes place once a month:
Luciano then drove us to his brother’s house in the hills north of Brasilia for a fantastic BBQ with their family!