21 March: Soccer camp One to Biti Manyanga (Soccer camp Two)

128 km to ride on dirt roads, with 850 meters of climbing 950 down

Even though I got into the tent at 7 pm I still did not want to get up at 5 am. I slept better last night as it was not so hot, and the long riding days are making me tired.

The whole day seemed to be going up, even though it was a slight gradient it gets wearing on rock, mud and sand.

The 63 km to lunch went ok, dealing with uneven gravel and rocks and up gradient as it was not yet too hot.

On the way to lunch a troupe of baboons crossed road in front of me. There were about 20 baboons, some quite large animals. By the time I had got my camera out they had disappeared back into the bush.

I bought some coloured pencils, paper, and lollipops in Arusha, and have been handing them out randomly to local children when I find them in small groups, especially targeting children who look like they may not get to school.

As usual there are endless children, smiling and waving and saying good morning, plus a few family groups sitting watching the Lycra brigade pass by. The usual number of young local boys racing us on their no gear bikes.

There are young children, around 7 years old, looking after siblings, including babies that are approximately 6 months old, swaddled on their backs.

There are some beautiful fields of sunflowers plus I notice there are bee boxes made out of logs, hanging in the trees. The logs are held together by wood pushed through them and attached to trees by vines.

There is a lot of foot traffic and cyclists, but also the occasional truck or bus flying along the road. They usually too and expect everyone to get out of their way, but sometimes they don’t even toot so you have to keep your ears open to hear them coming up behind you. They don’t stop for cyclists.

A bit of pushing the bike through sand today for about a 1k a time. Each time you hope it doesn’t go on too long.

When we get to lunch I notice that all the local children are eating lollipops, apparently Shirley bought them all one at the shop next to the lunch stop. One boy however is looking very unhappy and I think he may have missed out. Just then the big truck turned up and I asked Stevie the driver, who comes from Tanzania, if he could ask the children if the one boy had missed out. Turned out he had so we gave him a lollipop. He must have turned up just after Shirley had bought them for the others.

After lunch it got hotter and hotter. Lots of gravel and loose sand, which meant I was slipping and sliding, nearly falling off, and walking quite a bit. We passed two separate trucks that had got stuck.IMG_7650.jpg

At 87 km I stopped for a cold drink. It must have been lunch time as there were about two hundred school children crowding in. Every time you took your eye off them they came closer and closer, and when you looked up they moved back again.

As with all the rides there is a group wanting to EFI (ride every freakin inch). When we started there were 8 riders who still had EFI status, today it was reduced by one when one of the riders came off in the sand and cut his leg badly and needed stitches. He wanted to keep riding but the TDA doc Jen said no.

Lots of riders came off in the sand which got very thick for a while, and the road got hotter and hotter with very little shade. The lunch truck made numerous stops filling up people’s water bottles.IMG_7639In town the camp is fenced off by a rope around the tents. The children are mostly staying behind the rope but some are daring each other to come under the ropes and touch the tents.

We have a toilet tent which has been built over a long drop. Less than two hours after it has been put up, it is full of blow flies! There must be at least a 100, very unpleasant. Hopefully I won’t need to visit often.

The dinner is chicken stew with rice, and tomatoes and cucumber salad.

The children don’t seem to have balls or any other toys to play with, so mostly mill around the perimeter watching us.

Once it gets dark they start going home but unfortunately we then have motor bikes racing up and down outside the camp well into the night.

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