Cycle for Zambia – The dirt road edition!
Finally we got some internet. We are now at a very nice and quite luxuries lodge in Nyimba. It’s already the third cycle day and well hard would be an understatement.
On thursday we arrived at Lusaka after a long long flight and some turbulence at the end. While the heat welcomed us some raindrops came with it. It actually felt quite nice. We met Claire of ThornTreeSafaris who took us to the first campsite. Not much happened at this point. We chose our bikes, had diner, drank our first Mosi beer and went to bed early.
It’s 4 o’clock and we wake up. It’s still dark but we’ve got a long way ahead of us. Instead of the 77km we were actually going to cycle 120km!! The first km’s were quite easy, the weather was nice and the road was good. After 27km the deputy minister of sports officially welcomed us to Zambia. He had quite the speech about mountainous areas, hottest places of Zambia and locals cycling. Funny and even worrying at some points as apparently we were going to cycle through the hottest and most mountainous areas of Zambia.
After 45 minutes we finally got to continue on our bikes. The sun was out and it was getting hot already. 8 o’clock and it was shown 30 degrees! 20km more were pretty easy but then it got tough. Cycling over mountains through the African heat is not something I would advice people to do. Especially people who haven’t trained that much. So some of our 30+ group of cyclists had to stop and jump in the car instead. I didn’t but wow I was tested. Yuri went on easily. I guess he’s the most trained person of the group. So after 86km I couldn’t continue. I was with the last 11 and Yuri went on with the last 6. They made it to camp: 114km! Amazing.
We stayed in tents at an orphanage. This orphanage has about 200 kids they take care of during the day. Not all kids are orphans, some come from families that can’t take care of them very well. It looked quite like the school I worked at in Uganda so I got to talk with some locals who showed me around and taught me some Nyanga (the local language).
We woke up at 3.30am today! The milky way welcomed us this morning and we felt good and fit. Ready for another day at the bikes. While we cycle kids are waving at us, shouting “Hello, how are you?” I’ve got a horn on my bike and the kids love it. Even the older people are laughing and waving when we pass by. They don’t often see white people (muzungu’s) on bikes of which most of them are girls. The villages are getting smaller. We pass the true African village you probably know from television or post cards or whatever.
Today it all went well. The clouds prefented the sun from heating us up and the hills were doable. I loved it, everything went well. We even went about 15km on dirt road, of which I rode most on a flat tire. We cycled through little villages, talked with some locals and enjoyed the amazing scenery of Zambia. An awesome day.
We arrived early at an hospital where we would stay for the night. We got a little tour through the hospital which I didn’t like at all. Watching people die is not really something I fancy. So after a while some of the group (that’s us and Marco & Rinze from Eindhoven) to a lodge for a beer. This lodge had some Zebra’s, Impala’s and Ostriches walking around. Ok Blijdorp is way better 😉 But the beer was good and at 5 o’clock we even got to watch Cameroon – Zambia.
It was so hot last night that we couldn’t sleep very well. I felt a little sick and couldn’t really eat a big breakfast. However once on the road it all felt good again. So we would cycle the most mountainous route of Zambia today: Manenekela. The first 20km was serious steep uphill nonstop. It was spectacular and hard at the same time, the views, the weather, the way, amazing! I finally felt I found my speed uphill and I did.
The only problem we face is that we stop every 20km. We stop and wait for the last one to arrive, this person or these persons will get a 10 minute stop as well. Which means that when the last person or persons are 30 minutes behind we have a stop of 40 minutes. I can tell you that’s quite hard. I felt my legs were in relaxing mode again when the last person arrived which makes it hard for me to get the energy again when we continue. The other problem is that when it takes so long it gets hotter as well.
Today the heat was a big problem. We got a 65km ride to the Luanga river, however after our 2nd stop the sun and mountains became our enemies. The mountain road wasn’t that hard but the sun made it hard. One after another had to stop because of the heat. I made it to the Luanga river bridge but not with the same energie I started today. Yuri didn’t really feel much, so when everyone stopped he continued with 6 other people of which 5 people couldn’t continue after 10km and Yuri couldn’t go on alone.
So now we are drinking a well deserved Mosi beer at our most luxuries lodge I can imagine. Well this is it for now. We’ll see what the other days bring and hope to have internet sometime soon after this. Although it feels pretty good having no internet 😉 Greetings!!