27 April : Windhoek to Weissenfels Camp

Today we have 123 km to ride, with 1200 of climbing and 1100 down. However today we start the gravel.

We got back from the hotel to the campsite ok, we were a bit worried the gate at the Urban Retreat would be locked still when we arrived so early, but it was open as the security guard was there already when we arrived.

Fiona’s son Desmond has joined us here for the rest of ride but unfortunately his bike has not yet arrived so he is now going to meet us at the next rest day in 3 days’ time. Frustrating for them as he is only here for a couple of weeks.

This morning my phone has decided to lock me out, first off I thought it was asking for my normal ID so put that in and that didn’t work, so without paying too much attention I put in the other code I thought it could be – then saw the message “1 more attempt left to enter the SIM number”. I am not even sure what this is as have not been asked before but hopefully it is with the packet which is of course now in my bag in the truck, so no phone for the day.

There was a bit of a steep climb to get out of the city and going up one hill I had trouble getting my bike into gear and had to get off which was a bit annoying as a number of riders went past and it looked like I wasn’t able to ride up the hill (in my mind anyway, it may not have occurred to them at all). The next few gear changes it went ok so I thought I must have tried to put it in the wrong gear.

Talking to a few of the riders going along there was a bit of ill will being felt towards Wolfgang who went to stay on a friends farm in the weekend and was very proud of the fact that he shot and killed a cheetah! I am stunned and saddened to think he had done this and that he was proud of it. In Namibia they have limited game hunting still and have farms where you can go and shoot wild (but captive) animals. In Botswana and Kenya there is no game hunting and you are facing the death penalty if caught.

At 21 km we said goodbye to the tarmac for most of the next 8 riding days. Riding on gravel is not my favourite thing, especially really sandy surfaces as my tyres are 35 which are not great on sand, but the biggest I can fit on my bike. Also I am not confident in sand which makes me slower which makes it harder to get through the sand. Other riders hate the corrugated surfaces which I can’t say I enjoy but at least I can ride over them.

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The sandy gravel

3 km into the gravel I went to change gears while going up a hill and the shifter went straight across with nothing happened as the cable had snapped making the bike unrideable.  Unbelievably Fritz had a spare cable in his bike bag! Which he gave to me.

Given I had no phone I couldn’t ring for help so decided to turn back to the start of the gravel and wait for the sweep (the TDA staff member who rides behind the last rider). Jordan the TDA comms guy was at the start of the gravel taking photos as riders came through and advised Tallis had also not yet been through and he had Ryan the bike mechanic in the truck with him.

Ryan managed to replace the cable at the side of the road so no excuse not to head back to the gravel. I nearly fell off a couple of times and two of the riders did and got injured but were able to keep riding.  One of the riders who has been pushing himself the whole trip collapsed at lunch and had to take the truck to camp. Tim has been telling everyone that his average speed for the trip is about 27 km and he pushes as hard as he can go every day and I think it has caught up with him. Hopefully he is just tired.

I rode by myself most of the day, it was very long day. I got to camp at 5:30 pm which made it a 10 and half hour day. I was surprised that there were still 5 riders behind me.

We have had a self-supported rider Hans from Switzerland turn up at a couple of campsites with us, which means he is riding as long as us each day. This is unusual for a self supported rider as they have lots of gear plus they finish earlier to find somewhere to camp etc but not Hans! He sails past me with his 10 litre water container tied on and all his bags attached, so much gear you can hardly see him.ans alw

Hays asks if I am ok and if I need water. I have chatted to him and he has been riding for 27 years! He is a trained chef and whenever he runs out of money he works for a couple of weeks.

For dinner we had vegetarian noodles plus tomato and cucumber salad (am sick of the sight of this salad). Meat and vege noodles for the meat eaters. We also had a chocolate cake for Fritz’s birthday.

Where we are camping there has been no rain for 5 years, and 3 out of 5 bore holes are dry.

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Birthday cake for Fritz

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