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Old 12-06-2010, 08:17 AM   #1
mirantesMT OP
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Location: Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
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Shortcut to Ubatuba (Rio de Janeiro- Brazil)

End of February 2010, I wanted to find out if I could ride from Volta Redonda to Ubatuba, using as much dirt roads as possible... I didn't get there (close but no cigar...)


Click on the picture to see bigger version...
The map shows the tour as I left from Volta Redonda, making my way to Bananal, Arapeí and São Jose do Barreira, where the real ride (dirt roads) started...

From São Jose do Barreira to Cunha is about 140km, all dirt road and VERY beautuful. I even ventured a little bit into the APA Serra da Bocaina (APA is short for "Area de Proteção Ambiental" - Protected Environmental Area)
Of course, I had nice weather then. If it would rain, it would be a different matter. But even in february, which is supposed to be in the wettest period of the year, and being in one of the wettest areas of Brazil, the roads were pretty good, but not for rookies. The part from SJ do Barreira to Cunha I had done before, looking for a way to Paraty on another ride.. It was the next part from Cunha to Ubatuba that I wanted to explore.

From Cunha it was just a few kms to the dirt road I found on my GPS... I took a right turn into the unknown...


First things first:


Here's a church in the center of Bananal, one of the beautiful little towns on the way...



Arriving in Arapeí... the next town after Bananal



The "Estrada dos tropeiros... A Tropeiro was the guy that took a group (tropa) of mules packed with gold or diamonds over this road (probably without pavement at the time) from Diamantina to Paraty... A 1500km trip that lasted +/- 3 months. This road is called "Trilha do ouro" and one of our tours covers this route... http://www.mirantes-mototravel.com/en/tour2-info.html


São José do Barreiro... Here, the dirt road begins...



The start of 140 km of dirt road to Cunha...



São José do Barreiro in the distance...



From here on out it is only climbing.



These guys didn't even blink when I came closer...



Still getting higher.



Just a picture of the bike while it was still clean...



All kinds of different "pavement" (mostly a mix of sand and stones)



Less sand... More stones



Lots of stones... no more sand...



Here's a few pictures of the view you have up in the Serra da Bocaina... Beeing there though, is even better. The smells, the sounds, the tranquility... this must be close to heaven (my definition, that is...)







Toddler's perspective...



Entering the protected environmental area of the Serra da Bocaina... (the sign says: "Parque nacional da Serra da Bocaina")



I wanted to rest a little on this tree trunk, but good that I looked a little closer first... These ants didn't look like they liked somebody sitting on their nest...



Self portrait...



And another one... I look small on this one. Or the bike looks big.


Another view of the surrounding serra... Believe me, you are compelled to stop and take pictures every 5 minutes.

Finally, things started to go downward again...



Here, I'm getting close to the small town of "Campos de Cunha"... I was almost out of gas, and thought that I would fill my tank there... turns out that there was NO gas station in the town... I stepped into the local padaria (bakery) and had something to drink. I told the lady of the padaria that I was looking for a gas station, and she told me that most people in this town bought gas from a guy that had hundreds of 1.5 liter pet bottles stacked in his garage... She gave me directions and after a few wrong turns, and more directions from other people, I found the guy's house... I bought 2 bottles (3 liters) of gasoline, which would be enough to get me to Cunha, which was about 30 more kms. The guy charged me double the price of what I would pay at a gas station, but I guess he had to include his transport costs.




On the way from Campos de Cunha to Cunha, I saw this beautiful waterfall... I swear I wanted to jump in, but if I wanted to get to Ubatuba that day, I didn't have time for swimming...

I got to Cunha, bought a full tank of fuel and started what I thought would be the final leg of the trip to Ubatuba... The plan was, to get there, find a pousada for the night and return to Volta Redonda the next day...

I found the dirt road that was indicated on my GPS, about 2-3 kms passed Cunha and entered it... The first 5 km were ok, there were even houses of people living there, but then things started to get harder... As long as there were houses, it's safe to assume that the road will be kept in an acceptable condition, but as soon as the "residential" area ends, you can expect anything. This part of Brazil was battered by very heavy rainfall in the year-end period and during the month of January 2010 and every day there were stories about landslides. Road like these, which are not registered as "BRxxx" or "RJxxx" don't receive any maintenance, and I have the impression that it is up to the people wo are living in the remote parts of the area, to keep the road open so they can get to their homes... Since a lot of them are using horses to go where they need to be, the road can be damaged by the rain to the point that there's no way you ever going to get through it by car... even a 4x4...

At some points I had to maneuver my way across stretches of road that had holes in them in which I could easily disappear, bike and all... It's unbelievable what the force of water can do...

At one point, the road was blocked by a landslide... the whole road surface was covered with a 30cm thick layer of slimy red mud, about 40m wide. there was a small sitio (farm house) close by, so I figured that if I would have a problem, I could ask help there... Having no other option, I decided to go for it (the other option was, to turn back and go home...) I charged into the mud, but after 5m I was stuck... As I was struggling to get the bike out of the blubber, the people of the sitio (as expected) were watching me from a distance, and as they saw that I wasn't going to get the bike out on my own, two guys came over to help... As they were giving it their all to get the bike back on solid ground, I heard them mumble some stuff about how crazy you need to be to ride a heavy bike like this in these roads... After a lot of pulling, the bike finally got out of the mud and one of the guys showed me a way to go round the landslide... believe it or not, I had to go down the slope toward the small river that was flowing there, and get back up after passing the slide... This was what they did with their horses... did they ever see anyone do this on a bike? No, of course not, but if I wanted to go on, that was the only way... I didn't even have dirt tires, so that would be tricky... Long story short, I tipped over at least 4 times - maybe more, I don't want to remember - but I got down and back up the slope in one piece...

Another 10km of really bad road further, I came to this scene...

If you look carefully, you can see the remains of what used to be a wooden bridge... Before that, about 20m of 25cm deep mud. After the Bridge 100m more of the mud... I walked to the other side to check out how it was there, and concluded that I would never get through this mud with this bike with these tires, and I was so close to the next town (Vila de Catucaba) My other option was, to turn back and face that land slide all over again... I decided to take my chances and face the mud... It was hell. I got over the bridge quite easily (much to my surprise) but on the other side the mud was a lot deeper and the tires didn't get any grip... I pushed branches under the wheels and that way I was able to get 30cm at the time... this would take me hours to cover the +/- 100m to the dry ground. After I was doing that for about 30mins (and believe me, this is hard labor in the hot Brazilian sun) my guardian angel (I wouldn't know who else) sent me a guy on a horse, that was passing by. He was kind enough to help me push the bike and that is why I didn't have to spend the night there...



This is what the bike looked like after the mud bath... I didn't take a picture of myself, but I sure wasn't going to any pousada anymore after this...

After getting out of the mud, I was kind of letting go of the idea to reach Ubatuba... I had seen enough sand roads for one day (almost 200kms) and was all covered with mud - as was the bike. I doubted that any pousada would even let me in, looking like this, so I decided to get on the first asphalt road out of there and head home. It was already getting close to 6pm so it would start to get dark soon. it was still 250kms to get home, and only 75 to Ubatuba, but I couldn't care less about Ubatuba at that point... 3,5 hours later, I arrived home, extremely tired, cold as hell, but glad I made this trip... At least I knew that this was not the way to get to Ubatuba on a XT660R



Cleaning the bike the day after... Check out the dirt on the floor...


Hope you enjoyed the read

Book your own Brazilian adventure motorcycle tour with Mirantes Mototravel Brasil

Grtz
Raf



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mirantesMT screwed with this post 12-06-2010 at 12:46 PM
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:57 PM   #2
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Enjoyed reading your report and the lush pics!
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:34 PM   #3
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so it seems like I visit the same places as you while I am here
next week in Ubatuba

my next trip here, will have to make some arrangements
the XT would be nice
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:25 PM   #4
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Hey Arth,
Check this out... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=642836

We're going on an 8 day trip from Monday Dec 13th till Monday Dec 20.
I don't know how concrete your plans are, but you said something about Campos do Jordão earlier, and now Ubatuba... We'll pass all these places, and a lot more.

I have an extra XT660R or a Falcon that you could rent... and you could ride along. I even have some extra bike gear (jacket, Helmet...). My size of course

If you're interested, call me as soon as possible: +55 24 88076248 and we can work something out...


Quote:
Originally Posted by ArthDuro View Post
so it seems like I visit the same places as you while I am here
next week in Ubatuba

my next trip here, will have to make some arrangements
the XT would be nice
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:55 PM   #5
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pm sent
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:09 PM   #6
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Good trip with the mud friend...
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