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Brasil travel nightmare

By October 27, 2011No Comments

Sometimes things dont work out. I was nervous flying to the Brasil Ride the day before the race simply because bad things happen. I made it to Dallas a little late and just after getting off the phone with Jeff telling him how he’d be fine even if his flight was a little late, my adventure began. I had a one hour buffer to make my flight to Salvador but the plane I was about to board was leaking oil for the landing gear. Irate passengers were voicing their opinions. I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. We ended up leaving over an hour late. As we were taxiing in, I turned on my phone and as we were pulling up to the gate and I got a text from Jeff saying they were closing the door to the flight. Myself and a couple others were left behind, missing the flight by minutes. We quickly formed a bond and worked together to get on the next flight. I was stressed because I was supposed to get right on a bus to take us to the race after landing in Salvador at 7 am. Now I would be flying through brasilia and then on to salvador landing at 1:20pm. How would I get to mucuge which was a 6 hour bus ride into the country? I didn’t have much time before I had to board and would lose all but the ability to text. I thought fast and emailed the promoter and texted my friends who were there to know what was happening. I also made a few quick phone calls. I held my breath and got on the plane to Brazil. I hoped my luggage would arrive and that I could make it to mucuge for the race start at noon the following day.

I became fast friends with my fellow traveler, Leslie. Upon landing, I got a text saying someone would be waiting for me in Salvador to get to mucuge. I frowned as we waited for the bags in customs to arrive. I watched the belt turn with new bags coming out, none of which where mine. I looked anxiously at the door where oversize pieces came out. A bike came out, but it wasn’t mine. The belt came to a screeching halt as the buzzer went off, almost defiantly telling me game over.

I stood in a line with a bunch of brazilians yelling things I couldn’t understand in portuguese. I felt helpless as I filled out a piece of paper for lost luggage. They said they could not track my bags. Only my very expensive mountain bike an all my belongings were missing. No problem. After getting through customs,I stood in another long line to get my boarding pass. People were trying to talk to me and I would smile dumbly back. Finally someone spoke English to me and calmed my nerves as I wondered if I’d even make my next flight. My baggage was lost. How would I even start the race?

Again, I felt helpless. I made it to the gate, but there was a gate change. Leslie and I followed the herd and made it onto the next flight. I was half asleep after being awake almost all night.

I finally got to Salvador and there was no word on my luggage. I met at guy named Flavio and a reporter named Pedro. Flavio drove us to Mucuge. It was 6 hours on winding roads. I had forgotten how much poverty there is outside the cities in Brasil. It was very hard to see people living in shacks and walking along the highway to the next village because they don’t have cars or bikes.

We got to Mucuge at 10 PM. I was disheveled, hadn’t showered in 2 days, and had no luggage. It was comforting to see the smiling faces of Andre and Mario (press and race promoter), and to find Jeff, Lorenza, and Jenny Smith. I had nothing to camp. Jenny had an extra sheet and towel, Ryan Draper had a small blanket, and I had the pillow that Senta gave for the plane. After not getting much sleep for nearly 2 days, I slept hard.

My eyes popped open at 6 am. I woke up to a bunch of guys talking very loudly in Portuguese. For a minute, I didn’t know where I was. After a few discombobulated moments, reality set in… I was in Brazil, at a stage race…and with no bike. Oh yeah…

Andre has been trying very hard to get the airline to send our luggage and bikes.

The race started today. We are out of the race. The best case scenario is that bikes arrive tomorrow and we can at least ride the race for fun. I would love fresh clothing too!

It is horribly disappointing to travel 4000 miles to a race, and because American Airlines messed up, we cannot race. It is a total disaster. I have been trying to make the best of the situation and accept it as it is, but I am still shaking my head in disbelief.

Tomorrow is the best stage in the race. I may have found a bike to ride just for fun… I just hope that my luggage isn’t lost forever.

This feels like a bad dream. More later….

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