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The Tale Of Ilhabela

Posted on by Dan Hugo

Memory is as personal as a finger print, isn’t it? We see things not as they are, but as we are.


In my memory, Dylan and I are in Java Café on Church Str in Stellenbosch, glued to Conrad Stolt’z images of palm trees and mountain biking through lush forests. That seed got Dylan requesting flights from his patental’s for his 21st and me starting to swim-bike-run after an 18month hiatus from the sport of triathlon.


This week has been very nostalgic, so much has happened in the seven years since. Although I’ve been to Brazil twice in the interim making this my fourth visit, coming here to this island for the first time since 2006 feels personally rather profound. And that Dylan has made the effort to fit this into his international schedule makes it all the more memorable. That he has brought his wife, Jonine, along, is the cherry on top.

Dylan van der Merwe working on Specialized Epic

Dylan using a make shift bike stand. Says he is actually on holiday.


Funny how that memory shaped reality, what you recall as big was in fact rather bite size, what was insignificant then being oh so loud and obvious now. Travel and old age to blame I say.

Top of the bike route

Top of the bike route. Sensational views.


For one, the course is beyond extreme – a fact I seem to have dulled out over the years… I have mounted a 28t front ring for the 1×11 I’m setup on my Epic. It is dwarfed by the 42 on the cluster. But it is a gear I’ll use for a lot of the riding time on Saturday morning. That being weather dependent though for any rain will make the gradient unplayable. I should analyze the numbers for record sake, but it must be 1000m elevation gain in less than 10km of climbing. Add to that a savage run route which ascends and descends like a rubber ball – literally – and you have an idea of what I should have remembered over the white sand and warm salty ocean.


Back then Dylan and I were reliant on pointing out our choices on dinner menus that had images of the dishes. Now he uses an app on his iPhone to translate his questions to Portuguese. The island still speaks no English. None.


Of the better 7year matured memories is going to a near by town the Saturday before for a party. Spontaneous like, after dinner. Its only a ferry trip and an hour drive away!

Infamous drive

Departing on that infamous night. Best of memories.

I drove back at 4am, being the most sober of the motley lot. My first time driving on the right, shifting a manual with my right hand. We had to wait a while for first ferry, but got to see the sunrise from the dock. Dylan and I went straight to the hotel breakfast, then got into bed, utterly exhausted. Only to be woken at 11am by the party crew of Bernardo and Adriano who recharge at alarming rates, so that we could go slide down natural rock water slides. Needless to explain why I delayed arrival this time to Monday.


Conrad who had won here in 2005 is back as well, together with his wife Lizel. Add to that my mate Guy who has dropped in for the start of his sabbatical and you have an African influence to the island.


As for the race, should be a brutal last man standing ordeal. Massive climbing on both bike and run, both of the extreme kind. This is the furthest expression of Brazilian party culcute – life is an adventure, everything is possible, and nothing should be taken too seriously. Xterra has a “Live More”  motto – bring those together and you have an epic tale set for telling.


Local Football on Ilhabela

Hotel is adjacent to local football stadium. Liked seeing this.

I couldn’t be happier to be here. Intensely aware of the wonder my twenties have been. Seven full years. I’m grateful to the Dylan’s of my world, my mates and family that have been along for the journey to share in its happiness. I’m grateful for the brands who have fuelled the dream, especially Puma who have been onboard for nearly all of the seven years. And while I’m feeling generous, thanks to you the audience, for following the show.


5 Responses to "The Tale Of Ilhabela"

  1. André Cruz says: June 21, 2013 at 12:56 am

    Nice to hear about you, here in Brazil.
    Will you come to Rio?

  2. Ewert says: June 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Good luck in Brazil Dan.

  3. Eunice says: June 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

    And we will keep on following even after (one day in the very distant future) the curtain come’s down on this utterly epic show.

  4. Tara Lockwood says: June 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    What an awesome story! If you ever (like if) get over the triathlon vibe, you should be a writer…like seriously!

  5. Dan Hugo says: June 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks Tara. Rather generous but glad you enjoy following. Dan

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