Sometimes life throws amazing opportunities at you. Sometimes, things come along that you never imagined you would get to experience. Cycling in Rio de Janeiro is one of those things and if you ever get the opportunity, grab it with both hands! I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would get the opportunity to go cycling in Rio. But April saw us visit Brazil’s carnival city where we had chance to do just that, and here’s why you should go cycling in Rio too!
Myself and Mr OCG were invited to cycle with Bike in Rio and oh my goodness, what a blast we’ve had! When I started writing this post, I was sitting in Sao Paolo, remembering that only a few days ago I was away from the concrete high rise jungle of the city of Sao Paolo and cycling in Rio in the lush green Tijuca rainforest, with Marcello, our brilliant tour guide who tailored our trip to make it so fantastically memorable!
The Tijuca Forest is Rio de Janeiro’s rain forest; the world’s biggest man made urban jungle and cycling through it is one of the best possible ways to experience it. When we heard we would be cycling up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer, looking for monkeys and native Brazilian wildlife whilst also having the opportunity to cycle the very roads the Rio 2016 athletes will be cycling – well, we were more than a little excited and if you’ve been following my Instagram, twitter and facebook feeds, you’ll have had lots of sneak previews already of the beautiful trip we experienced!
Saddling up in one of South America’s most reputed dangerous cities, where English is little spoken (and, I might add, my Portuguese is non-existent), may not sound like everyone’s idea of a party, but for anyone with a love of biking, cycling in Rio is an experience like all of the best parties you have ever been to all rolled into one…and then some! It’s like the biggest, happiest samba party, full of excitement, smiling, laughter and colourful sights that will make your heart dance and sing loudly.
Outdoor fitness is incredibly popular in Rio – it’s the Rio way of life and cycling in Rio’s Tijuca Forest was loved by many on the day we visited. The number of cyclists climbing the quiet national forest roads up to Christ the Redeemer – a long, winding incline – in mid-thirties Brazilian Autumn heat was both astounding and inspiring.
Now, I’m not going to lie, cycling that climb up to Christ the Redeemer is no mean feat, but serious cyclists will absolutely adore the challenge of the long lung-busting ascent right up to the top. Having said that, the ride is equally accessible and achievable for the ordinary cyclist too, like me, for example, if you undertake a planned tour with a company like Bike in Rio. The ride is definitely not for the complete novice; it’s fairly steep and you’ll need some fitness behind you and some skills and knowledge about ascending and descending on a bike. There was no e-bike option on our tour, but doing it this way, with a tour guide, means that when your lungs and your legs have had enough you can take a welcome break and clamber into, what was for us, a very cool VW camper van, rest your legs and continue on four wheels until you have your breath back.
The route is challenging but ultimately entirely blissful; the panoramic views will quite simply, take your breath away! There are amazing sounds, unique smells and wonderful sights to experience along the whole of the route; my senses were on high alert for the whole experience. The 360 degree views of luscious green forest, incredible mountains, the glistening ocean and the city views over Rio de Janeiro left us lost for words. The fact was, no words were necessary. It’s a rare moment having an opportunity to stand quietly and take in views like those that Rio has to offer. ‘Wow!’ just didn’t cut it, so awe-inspired silence won.
In the mid morning heat there were times when I thought my lungs wouldn’t handle another pedal rotation up another incline but the shade from the vast forest reduces the temperature by a good few degrees and makes everything feel that bit easier. And the photo stop opportunities are plentiful and utterly inspiring.
The down hill descents are a lot of fun too, providing unstoppable grins and a long free ride for the legs! And if you’re really hot, the little waterfalls along the route provide a lovely, welcome, cooling and refreshing shower. Bliss!
Sometimes, when you visit somewhere and are loving the cycling, you want to be alone with it all and are grateful for self-guiding your own route. But Marcelo, our Bike in Rio tour guide, absolutely made our trip. He’s a knowledgeable and friendly guy with a genuine passion for cycling and for Rio. His priority was always to ensure our experience was the best it could possibly be. Marcelo knew Mr OCG and I cycle at home and he was keen for us to get the most from the tour. His love of the area made our visit to the Tijuca Forest up to Christ the Redeemer truly unforgettable. We think of Marcelo and our Bike in Rio forest tour and we smile. And I can’t see that ever changing.
The nitty gritty details:
This half day tour from Bike in Rio tours provided an English speaking, enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide, great quality mountain bikes (Trek and Giant in our case), entrance into Christ the Redeemer, and views to die for! This is one of the best cycle tour experiences we think we’ll ever be fortunate enough to ride. If you’re in Rio, don’t miss out! Cycling in Rio with these guys is magical!
*A massive thank you to Tep wireless for enabling us to keep in touch on social media whilst in Brazil. We were able to share photos and speak to our family easily! It was an absolute godsend and meant we avoided ridiculous roaming charges and had wifi at our finger tips! Just brilliant!