As that little bike race in France comes to an end this weekend on the Champs Elysees, an ocean away, another one will begin, as the inaugural Vuelta Sudamericana gets underway from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The “expedition race”, as it is billed, is 134 days in length, making it the longest stage-race in the world.
The Vuelta is brought to us by the same deviously adventurous minds behind the Tour d’Afrique and the recently launched DreamTours, which lets you build your own cycling adventure. The organizers of the race have years of experience handling these types of events, and they allow the riders to focus on the journey while they take care of all the logistics.
While the race does run 134 days in length, only 110 of those are actual riding stages, with 23 rest days and 1 travel day built into the schedule as well. At the moment, 23 riders from all over the planet are set to embark on the ride, which begins on Sunday and will cover nearly 7500 miles, passing through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru before ending in Quito, Ecuador four months from now. Along the the route they’ll peddle through steamy jungles, across arid deserts, and over mountain passes, climbing as high as 13,780 feet in the Andes.
The riders won’t be at a loss for interesting scenery either. Along the course they’ll pass by Iguazu Falls, Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world, and the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. All in all, a fairly great tour of the continent.
Of course, not all of us have four months to go cycling around South America, so the entire ride is also broken down into nine smaller sections allowing cyclists who can’t do the entire distance to join and leave at a variety of points along the way.
To learn more about the Vuelta Sudamericana, check out the official website, where you’ll find updates from the riders starting soon. There is also more info on the route, profiles of the riders, an F.A.Q. and a detailed look at the event. This seems like a great adventure for anyone who is into long distance cycling, and makes the Tour de France seem like a short ride in the countryside.