We decided not to make any excuses for the weather and take some rent-a-bikes out for a spin. In our hood, we found Mr. Bike For Rent, who lives at Rua Miguel Lemos, #10, just a couple blocks from our "hotel" (read Love Motel with hourly rates, thanks for [NOT] telling us, Lonely Planet) in Copacabana, who fixed us up with some shiny mountain bikes for R$30 per person for 4 hours.
Holly and I had quite coincidentally selected red dresses for the ride, so to make the greatest impression from the bike lane, we insisted that Linda and Tamika coordinate accordingly.
Rio is one of the few cities in Brazil with bike lanes, not just along the tourist beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, but all along Guanabara Bay to the Botafogo and Flamengo districts. I already told you about crossing the tunnel to get from Copacabana to Botafogo.
The bike lane in Rio did not disappoint. Not only were the views of the Cidade Maravilhosa just that - marvelous, but the scenery on the bike lane itself was quite amusing as well.
I call this Rio de Janeiro Cycle Cheek.
We met Fabio somewhere in Botafogo as we all pulled to a halt at the bike stoplight.
Because he was dressed appropriately, we let him join our group.
Fabio lives in the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa and bikes to and from work in Ipanema. His boss even installed a shower for bike commuters! He also leads large groups of cyclists on bike tours on Sundays.
Then came the flood.
We stopped for a beer at a barraca when it started pouring, waiting for the rain to cease.
After about five beers and no signs of dry weather, we were too drunk to care about getting wet, but didn't want to be drunk and not so in charge of our bicycles in the dark in the City of God.
By the end of the ride, all the ladies in red had to wring out their dresses. A great first bici-aventura in Brazil, with many more to come!
When one mentions the word Brazil, the image of a pretty girl in a thong bikini strolling Ipanema usually comes to mind, and yes, there were/are many a scantily clad bunda to be seen. But I have decided to begin my reflections upon my bicycle adventures in Brazil with this striking image of an urban cyclist in Curitiba.
Photo by Curitiba Cycle Chic.
A bit scary perhaps? Why is this man with a chainsaw chosen to represent Brazilian urban cycling on Vélo Vogue? What is fashionable about him?
Because in a nation where car sales are at a record high and predicted to only to increase in 2010, where motorists don't stop for red lights for fear of being carjacked, where it is unsafe to walk three blocks along city streets at night, where it is unsafe to carry a purse, where it is unsafe to wear jewelry, where riding a bicycle in the city is considered not only marginal but insane, the most fitting image to represent the state of cycling in Brazil is one of a warrior who is fighting for his freedom to ride by any means necessary. A bici-guerrilla arming himself to protect a citizen's right to move freely and in peace.
To write about fashion and what men and women are wearing (or not wearing) on their bicycles in Brazilian cities seems downright silly to me. Instead, I chose to tell you about the urban bike trailblazers I am honored to not only to have met, but to have shared bike lanes with, or the lack of bike lanes - many a bike-brother and sister who led me through city streets, along sidewalks, in bus lanes and even [SIM!] on designated bike lanes!
I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with the tenacity, passion and strength of these pioneers dedicated to a vision of a more liveable city. My experience cycling in Brazil will make me appreciate and celebrate the simple things about biking in SF that I have often taken for granted as I drop my purse in my basket and head through the Panhandle to Market Street on my daily commute to work in the morning and back at night. Or when I ride to the Mission on a Friday night and lock my bike up to a parking meter in front of a bar. Or as I wait in the freshly painted bike box on the Wiggle, edging into the intersection before the light changes. Or as our SFPD escorts us in a Critical Mass.
And because I don't want to leave you all hanging, and because I love you, here are those girls from Ipanema.
I was kind of looking for a postapocalyptic raver look. Like Mad Max on a sugar high.
OUTFIT: Lorena Cupcake shirt custom-made for me by my beloved sister for Christmas, thrifted layered dress, thrifted leisure suit jacket
ACCESSORIES: legwarmers from aforementioned awesome sister, Leg Avenue OTKs over secondhand pink tights, $2 synthetic scarf tied bandit style to protect my face from the wind, Target toque with a pin of the Swedish Chef, thrifted terrycloth sneaks, Owlsford Owl bag from Target in the bike basket
BIKE: Knock-off late 1960s Schwinn Stingray under Bridgestone's Japanese manufacturing name, C. Itoh. Handpainted craft store silk flowers to a Wald basket.
Oranges and Apples
From New Year's Eve. I had to go and pick up a parcel from the post office depot and we were climbing a hill to watch the fireworks at midnight, so the outfit needed to be both cycle- and icy-hill-friendly.
top and dress - people tree
jeans - only
boots - clarks
belt and small bangle - charity shops
brooch - I made it
big bangle - beacon's closet
Heather didn't tell us what she's wearing or where she was going
But we like her photo just the same
wool tights/ icebreakers
skirt/ merrell. I was sold on the side reflective lines.
This is from back in December, before Christmas. My parents came out to Berkeley to have lunch with jeff and me.
dress ~ thrifted
boots ~ remixed
stockings ~ UO
bracelets ~ thrifted
earrings and lariat neckace ~ made by me
socks ~ Crossroads
Chromatic Gate: Herbert Bayer
Santa Barbara, California
earrings: Orange Slice
sunglasses: old wayfarer via mom
dress: blue Banana Republic via thrift store
wool sweater: white turtleneck via thrift store
belt: reused from wool jacket
heels: vintage, blue Stuart Weitzman
bike: Ella, Electra Amsterdam
basket: Nantucket Bike Basket Company
A day of exploring the Santa Barbara urban environment. Discovered Chromatic Gate by Herbert Bayer - public art.
Wish you were all here. ;-)
I last left you off at riding with Renata in Sao Paolo. My next stop was Curitiba, where I met a group of friends who ride around town on fixies. One of the gang, Victor, has written about the experience on his blog, so read on for the full account (that is, if you can understand portuguese).
I also spent a few days deep in the Pantanal, a vast alluvial plain about the size of France. Because it´s their rainy season, I was one of the only tourists at the lodge. But I did fulfill my dream to be surrounded by animals - monkeys, jacares (related to the crocodile), so many different species of tropical birds and MORE. The sounds of frogs croaking and birds singing in the savannah at night were enchanting.
Now I am in Salvador de Bahia with Carlos, and I´m surprised to see fewer bikes here than in any other city, though while marching in the Lavagem do Bonfim parade today, I did run into a group of men who get together for a bike ride once a month. Carlos and I decided that next year we need to start a Bicycle Bloco.
I am getting lots of sunshine, drinking lots of cachaçs, and taking lots of naps.
Happy trails! Tchau.
There's a whole world of bike blogs out there in cyberspace and the people behind the blogs are connected, by the internet and their love of bikes. Not only do we have a bunch of SF bike blogging friends, but we've got bike friends worldwide. In Portland for the New Year, I ran into Patrick, the founder of Velo Couture. As I always do when I see an interesting bike, I rode up to him and checked out his ride, he checked out mine. We were cyberfriends meeting in the real world.
The illustrious Renata Falzoni was my gracious tour guide in Sao Paolo yesterday. Take a minute to check out her film about these dedicated urban cyclists - our bike brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere!
Tomorrow I will be riding around Sao Paolo with Renata Falzoni, to whom I was introduced by Gary Fisher last time I ran into him at the market in SF. So I can give you the full report of Brazil´s largest city by bike later this week. Tonight, I am trying to get through the night unscathed!
Biking in Rio seems to be on the up and up. My friend Holly was our tour guide for the week. She led us through a tunnel that she used to ride through all the time when she lived in Rio 10 years ago. On the other side, we realized, when a fellow urban cyclist was laughing at us, that a bike lane through the tunnel had been added! The day we rented bikes, we met another urban cyclist named Fabio on the bike lane that encircles Guanabara Bay. He leads group rides in Rio on Sundays, up to 50 people. When it started pouring down rain so we all ended up taking shelter and drinking beers instead, which made riding back to Copacabana soaking wet a little easier. Rain or shine, the views of the mountains, the water and the Christo from the bike lane are spectacular.
No photos until I get back to the states. Tchau!