01 May: Sesriem to Betta

Today is 137 k to ride, with 880 up and 460 down all gravel.

Unbelievable but this morning the relief valve went off at 4:30am! No worry about sleeping in.

We had organised breakfast bags as we were leaving before breakfast. We only had one bag but not, so the staff said “Just take on of the other rooms breakfast bag” – I hope that they then went and arranged another breakfast bag! The transport arrived on time to take us back to camp and we were back in time for the riders meeting.

Leaving camp, the first couple of kilometres were ok but then nasty gravel! I just could not get traction and was either slipping and sliding and nearly coming off, or I couldn’t ride through it at all.


Start of another 5 days on dirt

By 20 km I had drunk all 3 bottles of water so I went into a very posh looking spa and resort called Le Mirage to see if I could buy some water. This is a beautiful place inside and out and the staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming. I wish we had known about this place as we could have stayed here instead.

I got to the turn at 31 km which had taken 4 hours and realised that I didn’t have a hope of getting to lunch at 75 km so walked 2 km to a shady tree (this took nearly an hour in the slippery sand) and waited in the shade for the truck to come back to refill water (on the days that there are no or few drink stops they come past a couple of times).

By this stage I had Stephanie, who was the sweep, with me and we discussed the previous camp and why it wasn’t where TDA had camped previously. TDA head office that does the bookings had only made the booking in December! Seriously TDA get organized, this is an annual trip and it should be booked automatically each year a year in advance! Stephanie was aware that there was a lot of unhappiness re the previous camp and had feedback to head office. Hopefully this was heard for the good of coming years’ riders.

When the truck came back it had 4 other riders it had picked up on the way back at 40 km who had also thrown in the towel so I didn’t feel quite so bad. There were also people who had decided not to ride at all.

By the time we got to the lunch stop at 1:30pm there were still riders just getting in. The road after lunch did improve slightly for a while but it then got nasty again.

I managed to get a room at our next camp, which I was pretty pleased about as it saved having to put up two tents and it’s nice to have your own shower plus a toilet.

Unfortunately, Fiona fell about 2 hours from camp, and has a cut above her eye that Jen will need to stitch, plus a nasty bruise on her check. I feel very sorry for her and Brendon – first his bike hasn’t arrived so he missed for the first 3 days, now on his first day riding Fiona has fallen.

A number of the riders came in very frazzled. Brett, Shirley and Dan got in just before dark after dinner had already started.

Fritz, Lucy, I’Angela and Vicas all got bought in by the truck. A real shame for Vicas as he had been an EFI rider up until today and was 4 km away from getting here. Vicas has small tyres which are not great for gravel, plus has had a sore hip since he fell the other day. This is his first TDA ride and he comes from Canada.

Vicas is a real character, he has a radio playing on his bike and makes lots of stops along the way. I’Angela is from Switzerland and this is her first TDA tour, she has only done mountain biking before and her bike is well set up for gravel, but she has been riding with Vicas and stayed with him today.

Dinner was vegetarian stew with coleslaw (nice change from cucumber and tomato salad) and rice.


Brett out on the Namib desert


Namib Desert – trying to find a “smoother” line between the corrugations and loose gravel.

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