I guess I’m going to Brazil at the end of the month for a 5 day road stage race. It is called the Tour do Rio. In Rio De Janeiro. It’s’ between 150km and 170km at day. I’ve raced MTB bikes in Brazil a couple times, but have never been to Rio. 4 of us from The TradeWind Energy Team have committed, plus two guest riders, but it’s not a sure deal. Not until I have the tickets in hand and the visas in the passports. I’m looking forward to doing something different.
Like I said, I’ve been to Brazil a couple times before. It is so very different from most other places. If I could only use one adjective to describe Brazil it would be sensual. It’s hard to explain, but the people there seem to lust for life more than any other place I’ve been.
I have a million stories from the trips. One that I’ve thought of probably the most doesn’t have much to do with cycling. Other than I was there for a bike race.
We were racing a Catus Cup Race in Sao Paulo. I went there a few days early to do some PR stuff for Specialized. It is nearly impossible to ride in Sao Paulo. So, we drove a couple hours out of town to ride and do a photo shoot. After the photo shoot, we were going back to meet up with some other guys and we stopped at this super little rural market to try to get something to drink. Our Portuguese translator, Arturo, was kind of all over the place. Super nice guy, but was always concerned about everything going on around him. Somehow he got talking with this woman that was at the store. She had walked nearly 10km from “the jungle” trying to get some aspirin because one of her children was sick and had a high fever. Arturo asked me if I had any. I happened to have a medical bag that I carried and had a huge bottle of Walmart aspirin with me. 250, 500 or some stupid amount. I took 10 out and told her to take the bottle. Arturo talked to her for quite a while and finally said that she wouldn’t take the bottle. She wanted 5-10 aspirin and needed to pay for them. I tried to explain to him that in the US these cost nearly nothing and that she would be doing a favor to me if I didn’t have to carry them around anymore. There is nothing he could do to convince her to take the aspirin. And nothing to say to stop her from paying me. And she knew how much they cost and paid me that amount. I don’t remember exactly the amount, but it was something like 50 cents an aspirin. A very large amount of money. More than the whole bottle cost me at Walmart or Walgreens. We offered the woman a ride, but she said that our car wouldn’t be much use to where she needed to go and walked away.
I’ve thought about this lots of times over the years. I probably think about it because I still don’t completely understand the mindset of this woman. And I don’t get why I couldn’t convince her to take the whole bottle. The woman didn’t seem like she was too proud to take charity. It was that it was almost a genetic thing that didn’t allow her to even consider taking bottle. Or even take the small amount of aspirin for free. Like she had no ability to address something that she felt was inherently wrong. She believed this so strongly that it still bothers me. I’ve pondered over this for hours out riding alone.
I’ve won races in Brazil. And seen and done some amazing things that would have been impossible to experience if I wasn’t a cyclist. And the most vivid and enlightening memory from the trips is this chance encounter with this woman. Hopefully this trip will give one such memory.