Brazil is an exotic country, we have a continental size, you could actually distribute all European countries inside our borders, and you still have empty space. But we don’t have even 20% of the cycling culture that all these countries together have. Brazil figures as one of the worsts countries in distribution of wealth, and we need to work 5 months of the year just to pay the basic taxes in our country (and still pay other taxes, as sometimes, the price of a product is 70% taxes).
But even with all these odds, we have passionate people. In my city, we have a strong group of cyclists, the kind who not only train hard, but, even with all the regions’ limitations, try to watch the majority of the cycling events of the year. In the last two years, we tried hard to show people that cycling is more than Road and Mountain Bike (which are very popular here due to our geography) so we made the first official Cyclocross race in Brazil. Trying to follow the rules of UCI, with supervision from cycling federation (even they don’t know about cyclocross, but we need they to validate the results of the race).
The first race was a little bit strange, the date was chosen because, that period used to be very rainy, but, in our city, we have one of the most bizarre weather in Brazil, so, we got a day with 30ºC in the middle of spring. We had 15 participants in the first race, but only two cyclocross bikes (firstly, because of the lack of knowledge of cyclocross, and secondly, because bikes’ prices in Brazil)! The rest of the guys used road bikes to race (and we also had a fixed gear on the bunch), so the course was adapted to let these guys race too, even using a part of a bmx track.
The race was split in two eliminatory races, trying to balance the experience in cycling of all participants, and these races lead the first 5 to the last one.
We saw a lot of people having fun, and trying to understand how to manage slick tires in different terrains. A lot of crashes in the first minutes of each elimination, but the guys found their way fast and had two great races!
And the final race was amazing, the guys did a lot of effort, not only to take the title of first winner of a cyclocross racing in Brazil, but to get the money prize (it’s hard for some athletes to get sponsorship here, so the money prize sometimes is the only way to continue racing). At the final laps, I stopped to photograph for a little bit only to see and enjoy a little bit this piece of cycling history in Brazil, and what I saw, showed me a lot of happy people, cheering, screaming for their favorite guys, and helped to create the spark for what we did in the next year, a three stage Cyclocross Championship (continues in part 2).