Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sal Paulo Cycling: Who Knew

Right before heading for Sao Paulo, Brazil and shortly after arriving I did a lot of googling (hate that term) of cycling+Sao Paulo. The results were disappointing to say the least.

Some of the more dire links:

"Cycling in Brazil: Vicious Cycling"
"Cycling in Sao Paulo Pesents Difficult, Deadly, Problems"
"A Cyclist's Lost Arm Becomes a Symbol of Reform in Sao Paulo"  (Yes, a car ripped off a cyclist's arm and the guy threw it away 30kms down the road.)

And from WikiTravel: "São Paulo is definitely not one of the easiest places in the World around by bike..."  That's for sure.  WikiTravel goes on to say: "Most drivers respect cyclists, but unfortunately, there are also many drivers (including bus drivers) who don't. Most of the city is flat or moderately steep, with only the extreme north part of the city being extremely hilly."

Guess who lives in a very hilly part of the city currently?  My wife had warned me about the  hills as she was in Sao Paulo a month ahead of my scheduled arrival.  Plus, I looked up bike rides on "MapMyRide" and "RideWithGPS" websites.

Well, this past week I was at a party with the school principal who is an avid runner.  He said: "I can give you a ride tomorrow to the University of Sao Paulo where I run.  The USP is right next to where they close off a travel lane for cyclists on Sunday. Pick you up at 6:30 a.m."


I was surprised to find a main thoroughfare practically deserted of cars and there was a complete lane marked off by the proverbial orange cones. At 7 a.m. I was the lone cyclist on the road, pedaling along to my heart and legs content.  I grabbed a paper to see if my name was in the obituary column and I had gone to heaven.

Toodling along I came to a bridge and at the top realized I was over the river and down below was the river bicycle path I'd heard about just a few days before.  I am so there.

The main road and bridge are about a 10 to 15 foot elevation above the cycle path and one has to walk the bike down to the river.  I was definitely ok with that.  Half way down was a guard to make sure we were walking.  Heck, I was strutting.

The path is about 20 kms long with only one problem: Being down wind of the river meant I could not avoid the smell of the river.  On the way to USP the principal warned me but I had no idea.  Now I do.

I've mapped out a route from my home to the Ciclovia rio Pinheiros.  (Click on the blue link to see route in a separate window)

I'm going to see what it's like to try and bike the 6+ miles from my apartment to the river path.  Unlike the "closed road", the river path is available all week  whereas the road route is only available on Domingo from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.   But as you can see the climb back home will be a workout with some 6% and 8% grades for the homecoming.

On the good news side our request to move to a more "bike and walk around friendly" area of Sao Paulo has been approved  and me thinks within 3 to 4 weeks I'll be much closer to the river  path and will be able to cycle almost every day.  That is, if I can find a big enough clothespin for my nose!!

Images from the car lane closed to traffic on Domingo.Yes, there are crossing guards at EVERY intersection.
(Clicking on a pic will open full size and slide show in another window.)
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1 comment:

Pete Heal said...

Hey Joe,
Looks like a exciting place to bike.
Think i'd rather be somewher like Paris though.