Being backed by Galderma and the Daylong team for this ride across South America, Ben and Natalia set off from Sao Paulo on 1 October 2014. While they had cycled long distance tours before, including the 1,500km journey across the UK in winter, this would be the biggest cycling challenge that they had set for themselves. The deliberately chose a route taking them through the central regions of the southern states, avoiding the state capitals and the associated traffic. But the amount of hill climbing that this led to meant that it was no easy trade-off….
South through Brazil
In cycling across South America we embarked on what was one of our most memorable journeys. Not just for the spectacular landscape, but for the people we met along the way. In many of the places we passed through, we stayed at the houses of people we met through Warm Showers and Couch Surfing – people who were kind enough to host us for one and sometimes even two nights and show us around the places where they live. So many fond memories though it is sad knowing that it may be difficult to see the friends we made again. The days in Jaguariaiva with Oswaldinho and his family were amazing, and then Matheus as we went further south, and so many others…
And yes, it was a challenge! For me, the hardest part was going through Brazil–and not, to many people’s surprise, the Andes. Brazil was a constant up-and-down with many consecutive days of 1,500m or more of cumulative climbing. Then there were the temperatures, which ranged between 35C and 40C (almost 100F), and the intense sun, which was cruel especially on the days where we had to ride through the midday hours in order to reach our planned destination.
It was always good reaching the state boundaries as we went further south… first Parana, then Santa Catarina and finally Rio Grande do Sul before the border with Uruguay. Ticking off the states and seeing the distances we were making – it always felt like good progress was made, and it was interesting seeing how the country changed as we went further and further away from São Paulo.
We also had some of the more terrific storms we had seen while cycling. Getting further south, in a small town near Santa Maria… we could see the clouds closing in but nothing really prepared us for the deluge that followed. We were forced to seek shelter in the town, and in a lull we managed to get to a service station, where we stayed the next couple of ours before eventually finding a place to stay. It was best to call it a day!