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Imagine cruising through the world’s largest urban forest and pedaling down a long coastal road that stretches out onto the horizon. Spice that up with some steep climbs to make your legs burn and top it all off with one of the world’s most iconic landmark in one ride. It almost seems impossible, well, not for some — welcome to Rio de Janeiro.
Host to the 2016 Summer Olympics, the city was quickly infected by one sport: cycling. Ever since the torch was extinguished, the number of riders in this iconic city has rapidly grown, and these cyclists have ben encouraged by the idyllic scenery.
Among these new cyclists is Ana Vitoria Magalhães, ‘Tota’. This 17 year old is the perfect example of the “carioca” way of life, all smiles and brightness. Rarely found inside, you’re most likely to come across Tota practicing her favorite sports, which include (but are not limited to) football and cycling.
“Every day people ask me where I get all my energy from,” explains the captivating Tota. “My reply is quite simple; I wake up at 6am, have my breakfast and head out for a training session. Usually I start climbing through the Mesa do Imperador and with each pedal stroke, I get more enthralled by the trees, animals and views surrounding me. This is what I love the most about Rio. When I get there, I follow the road to my favorite place, the statue of Christ the Redeemer. That monument, which is so entrenched in the nature around it, brings me a lot of peace. After that, I do another little climb to the Mirante Dona Martha, eager for the breathtaking view. When I finish my ride, the best way to refuel is to have an Açaí followed by a dip in the warm ocean. Then I can call it a day!”
With local knowledge on the best places to ride, Tota suggests exploring the many roads that traverse the dense Atlantic Tijuca Forest. With temperate year-round riding conditions, Rio is one fortunate city. Even on the coolest winter days, the mercury might drop to a mere 17˚C. During the summer it can reach 40˚C, but then, Tota gives a broad grin, “you can either cool off in the ocean or in one of the many waterfalls that flank the roads you’re cycling along.”