It’s a hot night in Rio, and I’m on a bike. Riding along Ipanema – the Atlantic waves rolling in strong but, with the sun long gone, absent the beach’s famous bikini-clad crowd – the chaos on the bike path matches the overall frenetic energy of this sprawling city. In order to avoid the lollygagging tourists strolling along the neighbouring boardwalk, joggers – blatantly ignoring the signs marking this as a bicycle-only zone – run right down the middle of the path, with cyclists and the occasional moped driver darting in both directions on either side of them. At one point, I narrowly avoid disaster – trying to keep up with my friend Joáo, I attempt a risky pass around a shirtless, muscular jogger, and find myself staring into the eyes of three cyclists, barrelling head-on toward me in the opposite direction. I hit my brakes, my tires emitting a harsh squeal, and tuck in behind the jogger, miraculously avoiding a domino-effect pileup with the riders behind, who skillfully brake or steer around me.

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