Category Archives: Brazil Rides

The "Faith's Way" (Caminho da Fé).

Logo of Caminho da Fé
Logo of Caminho da Fé

Dear EyeCycled friends,

it gives me great pleasure to announce to you all that next week I will start my 3rd Christian Pilgrimage by bike. It’s called “Caminho da Fé” which literally translated to English means “The Faith’s way”, but it is also sometimes translated as “The walk of faith”.  This pilgrimage route is now considered to be the Brazilian equivalent of  the way of St. James or Camino de Santiago, which I’ve done in 2015.

There is extensive material about the “Caminho da Fé” on the Internet, but in Portuguese only.  I could not find much in English, so the English version of this post will be more detailed than it’s Portuguese one, so to give you guys more background information of what the pilgrimage is all about (most links on these page will open to English Language resources though).

Brazilians have been walking to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida for generations. Many to fulfil religious promises (i.e. to obtain a cure for some illness or for other types of graces), others for cheer devotion. With 18,000 m2  (190,000 sq ft), the basilica is the 2nd largest catholic church in the world losing only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Map of the
Map of the “Caminho da Fé” (click to open. Source AACF)

In 2003 a group of pilgrims who had walked to Santiago de Compostela a couple of times decided to create a pilgrimage route between Aguas da Prata in the Federal State of São Paulo and the Basilica, in Aparecida do Norte, 318 Km away on the designed route (walking paths). Currently, however, the route has many, so called, “branches” all of them starting from different cities, but passing through Aguas da Prata, on the original route designed in 2003. These, in turn, have also a few options which may increase or decrease the distance between the starting point and Aparecida do Norte. The branches are as follows:

#BranchDistance in Km
Option 1: Via the town of Pindamonhangaba
Distance in Km
Option 2: Via the town of Guaratinguetá
1Aguaí to Aparecida364341
2Aguas da Prata to Aparecida318295
3Caconde to Aparecida390367
4Mococa to Aparecida408385
5São Carlos to Aparecida536513
6Sertãozinho to Aparecida571548
7Tambaú to Aparecida424401

Source: AACF (Friends of the “Caminho” Association. Site in Portuguese only)

I’ve chosen the longest path, starting from Sertãozinho, not necessarily because I want to ride more (although this was one of the reasons), but because of logistics. There is a direct bus from my current whereabouts to Ribeirão Preto, a city only 20 Km from Sertãozinho, so I only need take 1 bus journey (of 12 h though) to get to my starting point.

My entire journey will start on the early hours of Sunday, the 18th of September, with the bus to Ribeirão Preto. From Ribeirão Preto to Sertãozinho there is a short distance of just over 20 Km, perfectly doable by bicycle, but I’ve been advised to avoid this track because it goes through some high crime areas between the 2 towns (in Brazil, unfortunately, this is a constant worry).

So, as I arrive in Ribeirão Preto I may take yet another bus journey, a short one though, to Sertãozinho, or, if I am feeling adventurous, ride my bike (generally speaking armed thieves steal the entire bike with everything on it, and on the rider… it would be a shame if my pilgrimage was to end before it could even begin though).

In Sertãozinho I will overnight in the Agapito Hotel, one of the few places where you can buy the pilgrim’s credentials, which, exactly like in the Way of Saint James, you will need to stamp along the way in order to obtain the certificate of completion as you arrive in the Basilica in Aparecida do Norte.

Typical
Typical “Caminho da Fé” Pilgrim’s Credentials (extrenal link. Click to open it on source site)

From Sertãozinho I’ll let faith take me (no pun intended). I was going to purchase the excellent “Caminho da Fé” guide (link in Portuguese only) from Antonio Olinto, but I didn’t get to do it, so I will simply follow the yellow arrows (another thing copied from the the way of St. James / Camino de Santiago).

My two previous pilgrimages experiences taught me a lot and minimised a number of fears I had before I started. This one, in Brazil, is a bit different than the previous two as it introduces the fear of being victim to the social / economic situation of the country. Not that being a victim of crime isn’t a possibility during the Camino de Santiago where even murders of pilgrims are know to happen, but it is a question of the likehood of it happening, which in Brazil is much higher than in countries of the European Union.

The good thing about starting my pilgrimage on the 19th of September, though, is that I apparently will not be doing it alone, as I originally thought I would. I found out today that a crew of the Brazilian TV network “Globo” will be recording a program about the “Caminho da Fé” and that the main reporter, who I had the pleasure of talking to on the phone today, will also be riding on a bike all the way to Aparecida, supposedly followed by his TV crew. Who knows, I might even appear on the telly, which is an unexpected surprise. Life does have a way to surprise you, if you give it a chance.

As usual, I will try to post as much as I can along the way, but experience has thought me that any posts are more likely to happen on the EyeCycled Facebook page than on the blog. So, please, if you have not done so yet, and would like to follow me on this little adventure, make sure you like the page.

If you’ve seen my previous post, you’ll be aware that I recently lost a “non-human” friend, my trusted Dell XPS 15 notebook, which I used to edit the videos for the YouTube channel and create content for the blog. As with previous pilgrimages, I fully intent to cover the entire route of the “Caminho da Fé” with time-lapsed videos and bring as much info and media to you as possible. Without a proper computer that might take awhile though, but don’t give up on me. Like “Arnie”, I’ll be back!

“Buen Camino!” or in this case “Bom Caminho!”

PS. If you can read in Portuguese, the site of the AACF (Friends of the “Caminho” Association) is an excellent source of information.

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A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.

The original quote is “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” and it is attributed to  William Butler Yeats an Irish poet who won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1923.

This saying became ingrained in the Irish culture as the Irish are known for their hospitality and friendliness towards strangers.

Even with the current dangers of being too open to strangers, online or not, whenever I can I try to live by this, especially if I find strangers who share the same passions I do.

Through the passion of cycling, I’ve made “virtual friends” (Facebook mostly) in practically all continents of the planet, the vast majority of them, I’ve never seen personally. Maybe some of the people reading this post will recognize themselves in this category and will understand that the power of the Internet plus a shared passion is all you need to bring people together, regardless of physical distance or language barriers (Google Translate and others are also a big help).

Despite all the technological advances, in my humble opinion, nothing replaces the joy of meeting someone new in person, that is why it makes me so happy when I have the opportunity to actually meet face to face some of my “virtual friends”. A couple of weeks ago I had such an opportunity… 🙂

From left to right, Ada Cordeiro, Julie Assêncio, Thiago Ruiz and I
From left to right, Ada Cordeiro, Julie Assêncio, Thiago Ruiz and I.

I met Julie Assêncio and Thiago Ferreira Ruiz, a couple I’ve been following for a few years and Ada Cordeiro, a young lady I’ve also been following since the beginning of her South American tour about 2 years ago. They have all completed their journeys and are back to their (it I may say so) “normal” lives, in Brasilia, Brazil’s Federal Capital.

The English and Portuguese versions of this post are different because their blogs are available in Portuguese only, so I want to give the English speakers reading this post a little more background info.

Julie and Thiago started their 10,000 Km cycling tour in Portugal in 2014, which took them to 20 different countries in a period of about 18 months. Portuguese speakers can, obviously, go to their Blog and read about their amazing journey themselves.

Their blog is called “Dioca na Estrada” (Dioca on the road) and the link is http://novo.dioca.com.br/dioca-na-estrada/

In Europe their journey took them to Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgary, Turkey and Holland. They also pedaled in Índia, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and upon returning to Brazil they pedaled from Rio de Janeiro to their home adding more than 1,000 Km to their journey in Brazil as well.

Ada Cordeiro is a young lady I have been following through Facebook and other social media means since the start of her incredible 23,000 Km journey by bicycle around South America. Her blog is apply named “PedalADAs” in which the “ADA” part refers to her first name and “Pedal” means is Portuguese the same it does in English (the foot-operated levers used for powering a bicycle or other vehicle propelled by the legs, if you are in doubt 🙂 ).

In Portuguese “Pedalar” is the act of pedaling… well, enough of that… I think you get the point 🙂

As with Julie and Thiago’s blog, Ada’s blog is only available in Portuguese. Her blog is here: http://blogpedaladas.blogspot.com.br/

This video summarizes in 5 min her incredible journey.

Even if you are not able to read in Portuguese, I suggest you visit their blog anyway, if only for the wonderful pictures they posted along the way.

Anyway, I just wanted to leave a record of my meeting with them as an evidence that anything is possible, because as I started to follow them I would have never expected to meet them in person.

If you are reading this and are still not a member of my circle of virtual friends, please don’t hesitate to send in a request, but also don’t be mad at me if I do some checking first, such as to loo through your profile and call you in messenger for a chat.

It’s a shame that a certain degree of care is necessary in our society these days.

Take care and keep the wheels turning…
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More Jataí (Brazil) Bike Rides

I am on holidays… but not on holidays from my bike. Cycling is one of the things I like to do most and there is no holiday, or life, without it. I am trying to cycle at least 3x a week, but I have avoided cycling alone here because of the risk of being robbed and having my bike stolen. Unfortunately this is a real and relatively likely occurrence here.

Over the past few weeks I have recorded a few rides and some video clips I want to share with you, so you have an idea of what it is to cycle over here. I am also preparing myself to this year’s pilgrimage on the so called “Caminho da Fé” (Faith’s way).

Will write more about this at the end of this post. For now let’s see the videos, shall we?

Bike ride between the Diacuy Lake and Bom Sucesso lake

I believe these are the 2 biggest lakes in town, but I might be wrong. I did this ride with my brother and our destination was in fact the thermal waters club located on the shores of the Bom Sucesso lake.

I think the distance between the 2 lakes is just under 16 Km, but we rode alongside the lake for a while until we went to the club. The Thermas Park Club is a publicly own club of thermal waters in which the water comes out of a deep well apparently more than 1,000m deep. The average temperature of the water is 40 Celsius. A very relaxing bath at a reasonable price.

Saturday bike rides with friends

Saturday Morning Cycling Team (one missing)
Group of friends of our Saturday bike ride (1 is missing)

Every Saturday morning I join a small group of friends to ride approx 25 Km. The bike ride includes a breakfast stop at the farm of one of the members of our group where we enjoy some local culinary delights, such as “Pão de Queijo” (cheese bread), Banana cake, local pastries, coffee, freshly milked milk from their own cows and fried eggs from their own chickens. What more can I ask for.

On our way back I recorded a short clip of the descent into town including a “selfie” with the team (one was missing that day) at the JK Memorial lake (JK stands for Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil’s 21st president, who choose the town of Jataí on the 4th of April 1955 to announce the construction of Brazil’s new capital, Brasilia, hence the reason for the memorial).

Sunset cycling with my girlfriend.

IMG_20170806_175809The 3rd and last video clip of this post was last week, recorded with my mobile phone while an early evening ride with my girlfriend. During the ride we witnessed one of nature’s most spectacular scenes: The sunset.

I experienced the sunset in many places on Earth, but the sunset here was a little bit more special here than elsewhere, first because of the company I was sharing the moment with and second because the air is very dry here, so you get a very clear view. I had a great time, but don’t take my word for it, watch the video until the end.

If you want to see the pictures taken during these rides, take a look at the Flicker Album below (includes pictures taken in other occasions, not only during the rides above)…

Caminho da Fé

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I plan to do another cycling pilgrimage this year.

Although not as extensive as the Via Francigena, that I’ve done last year, or the Camino de Santiago, that I’ve done in 2015, the “Caminho da Fé” (Faith’s way) is equally challenging due to the difficult terrain, mostly on farm roads (sandy ones likely) and the need to overcome 3 mountains along the way. My biggest challenge has been, so far, the logistics of getting to the starting point with my bike and then back from the town of Aparecida do Norte (the pilgrimage’s destination) to Jataí.

As I will likely be by myself (still on the look for partner though) the best option appears to be a bus from Jataí to the city of Ribeirão Preto (about 700 Km by bus), in the state of São Paulo, then ride the 20 Km from Ribeirão to the town of Sertãozinho (the furthest point from Aparecida do Norte), overnight in a pilgrim’s hotel, and start the ride to Aparecida do Norte (estimated distance of 540 Km) the next day.

It has been a bit difficult to estimate the duration of this pilgrimage as I keep getting conflicting information (some say a week, others 15 days and some took 19 days to complete). The return is a little bit more challenging as it likely will require 2 bus trips, the first from Aparecida do Norte to the city of São Paulo (the capital of the state of São Paulo) and then from there back to Jataí, a bus trip of more than 1,000 Km by bus.

I was planning to do this in August, but due to some personal reasons I’ll have to transfer it to September.

Stay tuned on EyeCycled.com for more.

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Jataí Mountain Biking Marathon, Brazil

On the 9th of July I attended the Mounting Biking Marathon in the town of Jataí, in the state of Goias, Brazil.

It was my first riding experience in Brazil in 15 years (or more) and to me it was very challenging due to the terrain.

I am somewhat used to riding MTB tracks as the Swinley Forest in Bracknell have several, but this type of mountain biking is completely new to me.

Although there were some climbs to conquer, there wasn’t much in term of “mountains” to overcome, but the terrain presented some completely new challenges to me… Fine fine, powder like, sand banks, some of them so deep that a 3rd of the wheel would sink in them, providing virtually no traction and at times completely locking the wheel in place.

The video is rather long (30 minutes), but I hope you can enjoy portions of it, if not all. Was recorded with my GoPRO 4 Silver on a Feiyu Tech Wearable Gimbal.

The event’s Facebook page can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/jatairace/

In there you’ll find more details and pictures. Below are the pictures I took during the event.

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