TransAmazonica Speedway

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My first days on the real TransAm started in Novo Repartimento. Even though the official Transamazonica project was abandoned by the government the highway is definately still in use. Trucks speed by at break neck speeds on the average of 1 per minute on this section of the TransAm, and the hills nearly wiped me out.

I set out from Novo Repartimento after filling up my water and power washing the bike at a small shop in town. Like so many people I have met here so far (not all however) the owner was extremely nice and curious. They wanted to take a picture of me with my bike so I took one in return.

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Later in the day a truck driver pulled over just to take my picture. He was nice of course as well and all smiles and laughs. I flexed for the camera.

I made good time for the first half of the day with hardpack sections of road (albiet with dust flying everywhere) and only moderate hills. However, as the day wore on the hills became bigger, longer, and steeper. As usual, around 2pm the heat forced me to pull over into the shade, strip down to the bare essentials, and just sweat until my core temperature came down a few degrees. The combination of dust and sweat made my skin a frothy rust color.

Once again my map was wrong and my mark for the day, Pacaja, was about 30km farther away then I thought. This may not seem that far but when you are averaging 2mph uphill and 7mph for the day, under full effort, the distance seemed insurmountable.

However, I came upon a very nice river to cool off in. I watched the locals do their laundry, fish, and lounge while the Military Police showed up with there machine guns to have a look. This is a big deal for me, to find someplace to cool off in. As I write this it´s been over 10 days in the Amazon and I´ve seen 20 minutes of very light rain. I was re-reading the story of a German man who did the same ride back in 1999, much of his information I used to build my trip. He went during the same months as me and reported finding rivers to swim in every hour he cycled. I have been averaging less than one swim spot a day, and on this day I rode for 12 hours!

As the afternoon dragged on I asked everyone I passed how far Pacaja was ahead. The answer never seemed to get smaller, always 20-30km more! I swear this town was moving away from me at the same speed as I moving towards it.

Earlier in the day I stopped for some water in front of a Funeraria. This is where they make coffins and perhaps perform other duties for the dead. I couldn´t help but laugh when I took this photo, they were blasting Guns´n´Roses version of Knockin On Heaven´s Door, how appropriate!

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Eventually I reached Pacaja but not without its price. I rode way too hard for one day and would eventually pay for it.

I sat down for beans, rice, beef, chicken, and soda with some truck drivers. I told them I was going to Anapu next and they laughed and joked, “Oh, where the wood cutters shot the American” as they made hand pistols in my direction. They were referring to Sister Dorthy Stang.

(BTW, it has taken me 5 hours and 5 different “LAN Houses” to write this post with the few pictures included. It is very difficult to blog down here, each web cafe is like a highschool lunch room with teenagers yelling, tackling eachother, and playing video games. But mostly its the lousy connections that are frustrating!)

4 Responses to “TransAmazonica Speedway”
  1. Thanks for sharing the stories from the ride and all the pictures.

    by JohnF
    on 03. Oct, 2009

  2. Some where on your destiny was written that one day you and this amazing road ( Transamazonica) would have a history together. Today we are witnessing this fantastic bonding and in the end there will be a beautiful smile like the one we see in that couples face.

    by Idario
    on 05. Oct, 2009

  3. Glad to hear that the curious and helpful outway the unpleasant and xenophobic, as I am looking to catch up on your posts.

    Watch out for Coffin Joe, as Brazillian horror character, if you are stopping off at any more Funeraria. Not as much of a consumer of Coca-Cola as I was in my youth, but with all the fuel they are providing you, seems that they should be a sponsor of some sort : D

    by Ken
    on 06. Oct, 2009

  4. [...] is a cross section from a day on the Transamazonica between Novo Rapartimento and Pacaja in Brazil. My first day on the Transamazonica proved to be intensely hilly. The TransAm was filled [...]

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