First 950km of cycling – done! I’m really happy to be here in Curitiba which is my second World Cup stadium city after Porto Alegre, but it was a very tough last leg to reach here yesterday…
Cycling up the BR-376 toll road in 40+ degree heat is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever done! Check out the altitude graph on my Strava page to see the 16km long climb (from 41-57km of the ride) which took me from 25m above sea level up to 815m, but then didn’t top out at 971m for another 23km (at 80km) – http://www.strava.com/activities/109955286. I can assure you it was a brutal experience, especially as for most of the uphill sections there was no hard shoulder so I had to share the slow lane with hundreds of big trucks with their engines roaring to pull them up the hill as they passed me – not fun. Also, the heat is so much worse when climbing because I’m moving too slowly to create a breeze (as I’ve explained on the new Q&A page) and the slower pace means it takes much longer to get to the next service station, just at the time when I most need lots of liquid to drink! And it got pretty dodgy on that front yesterday…
Thankfully I was well stocked as I began the climb, and after a while I took a break to sit in the shade, have a drink, and thought to myself that it’s quite a picturesque motorway:
I needed another rest further along and spotted a layby next to a house so pulled in. Here the elderly man who’s home it was came to the gate with a jug full of water and kindly offered to fill my water bottles! So I thankfully filled one, and carried on my way, however, the tap water here’s not really safe to drink so I only used this water to pour over my head to aid cooling me down.
After another hard stint of climbing I was getting close to emptying my other bottle and so was praying for a service station to appear soon, but then instead I saw this next to the road…
Thank goodness for that! I stopped and stuck my head under the waterfall. Then got my water purifying pump out and used a spare empty plastic bottle to decant the stream water into my two bike bottles. After necking the contents of one bottle and then refilling it, I set off again feeling much better, surely I was near the top now anyway.
I wasn’t. Another long slog later and I was getting desperate for respite from the heat and climbing, so was delighted when finally a small service station came into view – I joined some truck drivers in there and happily devoured some pastries and bought 4 drinks, to gulp down and also top up my bottles:
Then around the corner I reached the ‘top’ – hallelujah!!! See the Garmin graph for why this wasn’t actually the top, but hey the main ascent was over so it was still a massive relief!
I still had over 50km to go until Curitiba so just had to get my head down and force my tired legs to keep pedalling. Eventually just after 7pm and nearly 11 hours since I’d set off from Joinville I reached Joao and his family’s home, utterly exhausted and filthy, but so happy to be here:
After a very good night’s sleep, today I’ve been making contact with some locals who have helped me set up some interesting visits in the city for tomorrow, and now I need to go and explore!
PS. quick silly footnote – in an attempt to fix my phone after its drenching I bought a bag of rice and sealed the phone in a plastic bag with some rice throughout yesterday, which meant I carried an extra kilo of weight up the long climb! And the phone’s still not working! Was worth a try though.
PPS. my cyclist’s tan is coming along nicely: