Friday, July 10, 2009

Vuelta Sudamericana: The World's Longest Bicycle Race and Expedition


The inaugural Vuelta Sudamericana is scheduled to get underway in just a few weeks time, with 23 cyclists from around the globe preparing to set out on an epic 12,000km (7456 mile) race and expedition ride across seven South American countries. Along the way they'll experience a range of environments including arid deserts, thick jungles, and mountain passes exceeding 4200 meters (13,780 feet) in height.

Brought to you be the same team that organizes the Tour d'Afrique, this race is scheduled to last 134 days, which will be broken down into 110 stages, 23 rest days, and one travel day. The riders will average more than 110km (68 miels) per day as they peddle through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. The race will begin in Rio and finish four months later in Quito.

Much like the Tour d'Afrique, this is as much of a competition as the riders want it to be. Some will go all out to win stages and finish first, with the fastest overall time, and others will prefer to take it more leisurely and ride at a more moderate pace, taking in the scenery and soaking up the culture. The race is also broken down into nine sub-sections that will allow other riders to join or withdraw at various points along the way.

Speaking of scenery, the cyclists will be passing some of the most amazing sights that South America has to offer, with the route taking them by Iguazu Falls, Aconcagua, the tallest mountain on the continent, the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. They'll also peddle along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and cross the Andes mountain range in between.

This sounds like another amazing cycling adventure. I wish I had a 134 vacation days built up so I could join them on this ride. What a way to see South America!