Twenty years ago at the youthful age of 25, I had just returned back from what was to be the most epic challenge and adventure. A ten day charity bike ride in Brazil starting from Ouro Preto in the Minas Gerais region and finishing in Rio de Janeiro on Copacabana Beach. It was extremely hilly, beautiful, emotional, dusty, challenging, rewarding, exciting and full of some amazing people. The most fabulous trip from start to finish.
Back then I loved travel and adventure, seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. Something that it very much part of my makeup and my interests today. I knew I wanted to see as much of the world as I could. When doing my research Brazil just jumped out at me. My love of dancing especially the samba, the music, the climate, the amazing landscape and magnificent Rio all helped seal the deal.
Another key reason was I wanted to do something for charity. I chose Mencap as I was a learning support assistant at the time and I wanted to give something back to a charity that helped people with learning and physical disabilities. I did a few fundraising events, but I was also in a position that enabled me to pay for my flights, accommodation and food myself. Something that I was extremely proud of back then.
I was super toned, strong and fit and loved cycling with a passion. I had no fear. I bombed down the hills at such speed without a care in the world. I got up the mountains so quick. My legs were the best they have ever looked. I cycled with the men in the group a lot. The fact I did it without hardly any training goes to show how fit I was back then.
Cycling through Brazil is something else. One of the best countries I have had the pleasure of visiting. Cycling towards Rio and into the rainforests of Tijuca National Park was so special. It was stunning. We then cycled through the Favela. The contrast to the rainforest was extreme. Then again the vast diversity of the city presenting itself when we were met with the scenes of the business district and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean. It was mesmerising and sensational. Finishing on the beach was perfect.
Being driven to Heathrow and being all alone was strange. That was the first time I had gone overseas by myself without knowing anyone. I was on the plane by myself too. It was only when we arrived in Brazil that I was introduced to the other cyclists. It didn’t faze me. I was in my element.
So much has happened in the past twenty years. Some of it doesn’t even seem real. One thing I know for sure. I have been blessed with the most magical and wonderful life. It has been beyond my wildest dreams. So much laughter. So much happiness and joy. So many spectacular precious moments. Even with utter heartbreak has come so many opportunities and moments to be savoured and thankful for.
So as I reminisce of beautiful times gone by I hear myself think. If I could go back and speak to my 25 year old self I would tell her how much I loved her and how proud I am of her for making me who I am today. She was fearless. She was passionate. She was so adventurous. She had this free spirit. She could have taken on anything. I still am all those things but I thank my younger self for creating that mentality, determined nature and wild attitude to life in the very first place.