I thought it’d be useful to put a Q&A on this website, to clarify some questions I get asked regularly and also to inform anyone who’s new to my #SambaCycle challenge…
Q1) What’s with the ‘Smudger Samba Soccer Stadium Cycle Safari’ name?
A1) Well my nickname is Smudger (real name Andy Smith), Brazil is well known for it’s Samba style of music and dancing, I’m going to visit each of the World Cup 2014 Soccer Stadiums (yeah I know it’s really called football, but I’m using alliteration here, so it had to be soccer), I’m Cycling, and the definition of Safari is “an overland journey”.
Q2) When do you go and how long are you away for? Are you staying for the World Cup?
A2) I leave London on Friday 17th Jan evening and arrive into Porto Alegre in southern Brazil on Sat 18th Jan morning. I’ve then got just under 5 months to complete my route and reach Manaus up in Amazonia in time for the England v Italy match on 14th June! I’ll stay in Brazil for the whole World Cup, I’ve applied for tickets to all England games (conditional after the Group Stage) and I fly back to London on 17th July, so exactly 6 months after I left.
Q3) What inspired you to do this trip? Why Brazil?
A3) I’d had a nagging feeling for a while that I wanted, no needed, to go on an adventure, and having loved a charity cycle from Munich (Germany) to Trieste (Italy) in May 2013 I really wanted to go on a cycling tour of my own. I’ve never set foot in South America so decided it’s about time, and Brazil is a fascinating melting pot of cultures and geographic beauty, plus there’s the footy, and so my plan was formed!
Q4) How did you get time off work?
A4) I resigned from my job! See more explanation here. And no, I’m not sure what I’ll do when I get back, but hopefully will be inspired and find a new job that I love.
Q5) How far are you cycling? Does Brazil have mountains?
A5) Over 5,500 miles! The 5,500 figure was according to my original Garmin route plan, but I’m sure I’ll end up covering more distance since I’ll be taking some detours in order to visit interesting places along the way, or to cycle along the coast rather than over mountains inland, so a bit further but also more pleasant. And actually the few mountainous areas aren’t huge, certainly nothing compared to the Andes over on the western side of South America.
Q6) Are you doing this on your own?
A6) Yes it’s just me and the bike, unless I pick up random teammates along the way, until I reach Fortaleza in the north east when my brother Martin will fly in to join me for the final stage – a 900 mile cycle followed by 5 days on a boat up the Amazon River to Manaus.
Q7) What type of bike are you using? Will you be taking it with you from London?
A7) It’s a touring bike made by a specialist company called Thorn who are based in Somerset. Their Raven model is designed for long distance cycle tours on sealed roads, they also have a more hardcore model for going off road, but I hope I won’t be needing to do that! It has a steel frame and 26 inch ceramic wheel rims for strength, plus the gears are encased within the rear wheel hub so are very robust, and the front wheel hub contains a dynamo which produces electricity that charges the front light and also connects to a USB port on the handlebars which I can use to charge gadgets from as I cycle along! I’m flying the bike over as a piece of luggage along with my bags – to prepare it I need to twist the handlebars sideways, remove the pedals, deflate the tyres, and will put it into a plastic bike bag. I’ll be happy to get it back off the plane in one piece!
Q8) What will you do for accommodation?
A8) I’ve had plenty of Couchsurfing offers from locals in the 12 stadium cities which is superb news, and I’m taking a tent and hammock so that I can camp when I need to in rural areas. Martin and I have already got a hostel booked in Manaus since it’ll be packed with English/Italian football fans when we’re there, and we’ll also book apartments in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte with some mates who are arriving for the other England group games. Finally I’m staying at a charity project in Rio as my base for the last few weeks of the World Cup, so will be travelling to games if England are still in the tournament, or enjoying the atmosphere in Rio if/when they’re out.
Q9) Which charities are you supporting? Where can we donate?
A9) Laureus Sport For Good Foundation and WFC’s Community Sport and Education Trust are my charities – please watch the videos I’ve linked to here to better understand their great work. I’ve set up an online fundraising page where I’m hoping to smash my £5,500 target: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SmudgerSambaCycle
That’ll do for now, I’ll add more info as I think of it, or better still please add a comment to ask me your questions.