Wintertime Bicycle Touring, Wise or Wacko?

If I ever get on a sailboat like that again for 6 weeks with three smelly boys to cross the Atlantic ocean please feel free to hit me over the head with a large hammer”

I say while laughing out loud with a huge smirk at the Sao Luis, Brazil immigration official. Perspiration drips from my upper lip. Cycling in 100 degree humidity has gotten the best of my sweat glands.

His English is strong. His sense of humor is not. His wide bronzed left hand holds my faded blue passport. His sweaty right hand holds my country visa entry stamp.

So sorry misses, but I cannot stamp you into Brazil because you have already cycled 900km into Sao Luis, where is the sailboat, why didn't you stamp in when you got here?” He rightfully questions, why I am on a bicycle and not a boat.

                ( I am such a girl sometimes. My new Helliberg Jannu matches Pandemic)

The boat of boob-heads came here illegally, I didn't know when I volunteered to crew on the captain's boat. A remarkably offensive man who I have nick named Captain Banana Hammock after his squeevey red speedo. Ah speedo my libido one final time, I chuckle to myself while realizing perhaps the official doesn't need to know the whole 'I bailed off the boat' story. Or, my belly aching that I will not be getting a valid visa or an extension or be able to cycle across South America via the amazon of Brazil.

The sailboat is not here Sir,, they have left Brazil, what should I do?” I ask with a time rich, cash poor traveler’s willingness to be flexible.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans I think to myself knowing this situation is either going to take time or money. The two great riches of slow bicycle travel.

Go to the border, go be illegal and take care of it then. You have 12 days” The official utters. The damp pocket of his lime green cotton shirt hangs forward. His silver immigration badge dangles. It is shimmering in the glow of the humid rain season air.

Brazil, a massive country is bordered by about a quazillion countries. North to French Guyanna is expensive, the Bolivian Andes my first choice is 12+ days of non-scheduled boat travel and a week of pedaling. South to Argentina is a 3 1/2 day bus journey, buses have never been my chosen method of forward travel. My only real goal is to see the Andes and cycle across my final continents...finish this full-time world cycling this.

                       (memories...when riding in humidity was so much more fun)

Thank you sir, maybe I will go be illegal” I smile, the irony not missed about how there are illegal immigrants all over the world and here I am 'illegal' in Brazil. I leave the stuffy building and head towards making a decision....

Ok there is no bad weather for cycling. If the weather is gonn'a be extreme, as in boiling in Brazil, it might as well be beautiful. This is just a false start in South America, that all it is. I will bus to the Iguazu Falls border and cycle to Uruguay to pick up gear and start again at the bottom of the continent. I know it's winter in the southern hemisphere that close to Antarctica but f##ck it that is what I am gonn'a do, I just need the right gear and a little luck with sponsors.

(Absolutely humbled by Iguazu Falls, Argentina. Back to the bike. Iguazu Falls to Montevideo, Uruguay to pick up gear. Thanks sponsors, my family and all those involved with int'l shipping for sending me the gear)

Winter Bicycle Touring Gear List

Neo villager overboots ( cost $60 USD
Fleece lined Neoprene socks (E-bay $10 USD)
Baffin synthentic booties (Amazon $30 USD)
Keene sandals ($80 USD)

     (Neoprene socks inside these sandals. Neos Over shoes over top when it gets slushy)

Overmitts (cost $30 USD, not label)
Fleece mitts (no name cost $6 USD)
Fingerless “magic gloves” (no name cost $1 USD)

Gortex pants (15 years old, cost $99 USD)
Wool thermal bottom (icebreakers-sponsor)
Prana pants ($100 and worth every penny)
Ex-offcio ¾ length Capris
Ex-officio Nomad shorts

Upper Body and Head:
Wool thermal zip tee top (icebreaker-sponsor)
Nano puff patagonia jacket ($160 USD ½ price online clearance)
Rain shadow patagonia jacket ($100 USD E-Bay)
Synthetic tank-top (3 USD in Zambia)
Icebreaker short sleeve wool t-shirt (second hand)
3 Buffs (One arctic fleece and 2 synthentic, $20-30 USD purchased in Namibia)

Bag:(sponsor) Jacks R Better High Sierra Sniveller down quilt. It is a warmer bag than my
present 3 season mountain hardware bag which is approx. 950 sleeps old)

Mat:(Thermarest X-therm, it is more quipped for consistent sleeping on snow. A replacement of my 3 season $38 USD no-name mat from South Africa)

Tent: Helliberg Jannu (sponsored) (4 season mountaineering tent)

Koveo Extreme Stove with fuel compressed gas fuel cannister (I find it to be more reliable than my MSR int'l multi-fuel. I am sleeping with the fuel canister to keep it warm)

30 x-L Seal-Line dry bag (sponsor). Winter touring takes about twice as much food. I'll also beeating sweetened vegetable shortening by the spoonful. A trick for the skinny
that I used while living in Alaska for 9 years.



Anonymous said...

Ironic to encounter difficulty with Brazilian Border Control after crossing so many "third world countries" in Africa. Good luck with winter cycling. You continue to amaze!!

anna said...

Sorry to hear the Brazilian Amazonian expedition was stymmied by the sluggo-wearing Capitan. (Perhaps my consistant back luck with worming my way onto a sailing boat is actually good luck in disguise... those sailing boat people always have struck me as somewhere between sleazy and shadey.)

Keep warm. Keep pedalling.

Skalatitude..."When humans and nature are living in harmony there is magic and beauty everywhere"
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