Marco Dias never thought of doing the inaugural Brasil Ride mountain bike stage race last November until just a few months before it started.
"When my partner Antonio Carlos Rodrigues and I decided to ride the Brasil Ride, it was only about 90 days before the competition. We got a coach who designed a training plan for us and we rode almost every day. We increased the amount of kilometers and then the intensity. Our goal was to achieve the famous finisher's jersey."
Finishing the six-day, 585km race was an impressive achievement for anyone, but Dias had to overcome some extra challenges to do so - he was juggling life as a CEO, father, husband and motorcycle accident survivor.
"I lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 1984. At the time I was 17," said Dias. "I put the first prosthesis on five months after the accident and had a super quick physical recovery."
I was very happy when I discovered I could ride, and I use the bike at various stages of my life as a means of transport."
Reflecting on his experiences, he said, "The mental adjustments are forever and I always carry with me the saying, 'What does not kill us makes us stronger'."
Dias got into mountain biking about four years ago with the encouragement of friends in his hometown of Vitoria da Conquista. They banded together to create an early morning group ride called the "Couro de Cocó".
Dias and his partner found the 143km stage of the Brasil Ride to be the hardest and in retrospect, they were glad to have prepared as much as possible in advance.
"Our biggest fear was that stage. We knew that if we made that stage, we'd complete the rest. We trained on the stage. When we scouted the stage, we could not believe the route would be so difficult and we called the organizer to confirm." He ended up being given tips on tire choice and what to bring along for the big stage.
"During the race, when we entered the forest in that stage, it was still early and we were on our planned pace. We were so excited that we did not stop to hydrate or eat in the feed zone as we felt hurried by the cut-off time. This later became our first lesson - do not skip food and water!"
After bonking and getting dehydrated, the pair eventually struggled to the finish, but not until after the specified cut-off time; fortunately for them, the promoter had already decided to extend the deadline by one hour due to the bad weather, and the two were informed that they would in fact be allowed to continue in the rest of the race.
Dias was elated to cross the finish line at the end of the stage race. "It is such a powerful feeling. When I face some personal or professional obstacle, I will think that I can do it - after all, I finished the Brasil Ride."
Dias and Rodrigues finished 15th overall in the Masters category of the Brasil Ride general classification.
The next edition of the Brasil Ride is scheduled for October 23-29.