England fan cycles 5,000 miles through Brazil to World Cup opener (+ video)
Andy Smith visited all 12 of tournament's host cities on 5,000 mile, five-month charity ride
One England fan at last night’s World Cup match against Italy in Manaus had a more memorable journey there by most – he’d spent five months cycling 5,000 miles through Brazil, visiting all 12 of the tournament's host cities on his way.
Andy Smith gave up his job as an accountant to set off on his travels in January, raising money for charity through the ride which began in Porto Alegre in the south of the country and took him north to Manaus, capital of the Amazonas region.
He told the BBC: “I wanted to have an adventure, I wanted to do a cycle tour, and I really wanted to come to Brazil for the World Cup. So when I realised I could put all those things together, it was perfect.
“I looked at a map of Brazil where the football stadiums are for the World Cup and the route just kind of appeared to me.
“I thought, wow, what a great way to explore this giant country and try to learn about the different cities, the food, the culture, the music and come to the World Cup hopefully as a bit more of an enlightened foreigner, rather than just thinking of the stereotypes of half-naked dancing samba on the beach and drinking Caipirinha which people imagine from Rio.
“But this country’s so much more, it’s so diverse, I’m just delighted to have seen it and experienced a little bit of all these places.
“I need a job, I’m running out of money, and I need to get on with my normal life, unfortunately. I’d love to be a professional cycle tourer, some people do, they write books and make films, but I’m not sure I can become that.”
Smith has charted his travels on his Smudger Samba Cycle website and through videos posted to Vimeo. He undertook the trip on a Thorn Raven, and in this video talks about the bike to a reporter at Rio’s Maracana stadium, which will host the World Cup final.