So, from a time perspective we are 75% done. Following two rest days at Vic Falls we have just one month of our four month trip from Cairo to Capetown left to go. Just one month! Gee.
When a new rider, Rob, joined us in Arusha he noted that we were just getting to the point where many full time riders would start to find the trip hard going. I still felt good and took the comment in a fairly “yeah, yeah” kind of way.
So, last week I felt physically exhausted and this week – I’m just finding the group thing kind of tough. In some ways the physical exhaustion was pretty easy to deal with. Quite simply- I rode the truck on a few days – riding either only to or from lunch. We had some long days last week so when a half day is still 90km then it’s still a fair old ride.
The group stuff is of course much harder. I should start by saying we actually have a fantatsic group on our trip. Of course there are some people you spend more time with than others and there will inevitably be others that you find frustrating but overall (in fact more than overall) our group mixes well, is not too full of cliques and we all pretty much keep an eye out for each other. However, that’s not to say I’m now not finding being surrounded by 70 plus folk pretty full on.
While used to being surrounded by many friends I also live on my own. For our last cycle tour it was pretty much John and me. There are few situations in life when we live with so many people. At risk of sounding a little moany, I’m struggling with food queues and tight camping spots though I’m aware that some of this is due to being a slower rider, eater and not wanting to be on the edge of camp given the odd steals from tent vesibules on some of our sites.
I sat on my own to eat the other night. Exhausted from a 182km ride i arrived at camp with time for just a 15 minute beer and an opportunity to start setting up my tent before the dinner line started. My tent fly was still wet from the night before, sun was fading as I tried to dry it out before putting over the inner and I ended up with a wet wipe shower behind a tree before I quickly grabbed my plate. While the dinner queue served as good distraction while I got changed I find it particularly anoying to see a seconds queue already there when I am still waiting for an initial portion. Does all of TDA need to be a race or give a sense of the quickest wins?
While in my first tour (USA, Japan, Nepal and India) I felt my bikemind slogan “The world at 15mph” has been pitched much too ambitiously, for TDA/Africa it may need to be increased!
John and I said all along we were aiming for EFH (every flipping hotel) and we have certainly tried to stick to this when possible. While the comfy bed and private bathroom were initially the main advantages as the tour progresses it is the personal space a locked room enables you that has become the best part of a hotel stay. I sit writing this in a peaceful hotel garden. Two wooden chairs, overlooking a pond, the sound of running water and a kettle boiling ready for a quiet cup of tea. Bliss.
We cross the border to Botswana tomorrow and at present I feel like I’m on countdown. We’re so close yet still…. so far away.
Still glad I’m here. Still appreciating how fortunate I am. Still loving the riding. Still looking forward to the end.