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Louise Sutherland planned her own route – one that was far longer and rougher than any Tour de France. She was the first person ever to cycle right across Brazil, through the Amazon Jungle.
The day she arrived in Brazil in 1978, government officials told Louise that her plan was “Quite impossible!” The Trans-Amazon Highway, connecting one side of Brazil with the other, had just been bulldozed and passed through remote areas inhabited by “primitive” people and wild animals. The idea that this petite woman from New Zealand could ride a bicycle slap bang through the middle of such wilderness was “absolutely crazy”.
But Louise wasn’t any ordinary cyclist. She had already pedalled through 50 different countries and solidly believed in the best of human nature, especially in indigenous peoples – around the world she had found them to be the most hospitable. In fact, she was sceptical of modern civilisation. Travelling alone, her small stature and humble mode of transport presented no threat to anyone. And loneliness didn’t worry her: “I was never lonely while I was cycling. I had my bicycle to talk to.”
Louise Sutherland arriving in London after
her first world journey and being greeted by Mr
Domleo, London head of Raleigh Industries
in January 1956.
9 Dec 2010 Radio NZ interview with author Bronwen Wall 17 min 22 secs, MP3 and OGG formats