Hayden Wallis .. Martin Wallis
Penventon Farm, Helston TR13 ORA
Tel/Fax 01326 572714 email: martin@newpotatoes.net
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Hayden and I enjoy a few minutes rest at a Beach Bar on our cycle ride through the northern part of Brazil to raise money for Lepra

Cycling out of Natal, over the Ferry and through the Countryside of Brazil gave me time to reflect on the last twelve months of training. After cycling with Lepra in India I wanted to see another country from my bike. "If you cannot beat them join them" must have been on Hayden's mind when he decided to join me, with just 8 weeks to train. Hayden had not ridden a bike for more than 30 years, bought a bike in July and within 2 weeks he was cycling at an average speed of 13 mph

We were to cycle from Natal to Fortaleza, which is on the North East of Brazil not far from the equator. The temperature was always mid 30's with a strong wind. We joined a group of 16 cyclists with ages ranging from 18 -60+ who had all raised money for Lepra. The British Leprosy Relief Association.
Our first day's cycling in Brazil took us through small villages and quiet roads where we saw a herd of cows but what they were fed on remains a mystery because the countryside was very barren. We turned off road to head down to Petitinga our first experience of Brazil's country lanes! When you leave the highway you can expect anything from corrugated tarmac, cobblestone or just track but always covered with sand. Not being an off road cyclist I had to leam fast how to cycle on sand - keep on peddling! The cycling was challenging because you could never relax - You had to be aware of the surface and try to judge the depth of the sand.

We stayed in small chalets most nights beside the Beach and we could swim in the sea. The Beaches were beautiful and so unspoilt from Natal up to Fortaleza. During the next couple of days we had some difficult terrain to cover and we stopped at a Manioc factory to see how the vegetable is peeled, ground into flour and cooked over an open fire. Further along the road I went up and met a little family outside their shack. The girl was 25 with 5 children and her sister 18 with 2 children. We also met an ox cart with three little children riding on the axle trying to get some shade. We saw a little boy on a donkey carrying milk in an old oil can to the local milk factory - no hygiene standards here!

We eventually arrived at Galinhos only accessible by ferry and when we landed children grabbed our bikes and disappeared, our bags were loaded onto donkey carts and raced off in the same direction. We tried to keep up with them but found running on sand very difficult but were relieved to find our bikes and baggage at the hotel and all the children beaming at us asking for 1 Real (30p) tip.From Galinhos we made our way to the Beach. We cycled for 3 days on the sand and were constantly wet because it was easier to cycle down near the shoreline. The coastline in Brazil is breathtaking -golden sand that goes on for miles. We raced a wind buggy, stopped at beach bars and enjoyed a cold beer (30p a pint!) and fresh lobster, cycled over mangrove swamp, through a river - enjoyed watching the fisherman fishing in their junta, while their wives scanned the coastline for seaweed. Our bikes took a lot of punishment with the salt water and we did get problems with cables and chains rusting - even though we were careful to wash and oil everything at night. One bike had to go into a little bike shop and for replacing the wheel rim, new tyre, tube and service 14 Real = £4!

Unfortunately we had to return to the main road to head into Fortaleza and civilisation. We stayed in Fortalaza for 3 nights and were taken to the Leprosy Hospital, but as space is limited suffice it to say "An experience of a lifetime", seeing patients at the Hospital makes one realize how fortunate we are in being able to undertake such a challenge.