Sesriem to Felix Unite
Well here I am on the final rest day of the tour at a small town called Felix Unite in Namibia, very close to the border with South Africa. Tomorrow we will start the final section of 780 kilometres in 6 riding days.
The scenery in Namibia is absolutely stunning: wide open grassy plains surrounded by mountains.
The section from Sesriem to Felix Unite has been long and tough: 5 days off road riding with riding days of 132Km, 151Km, 126Km, 110Km, 175Km respectively.
This off road section is new for the tour this year and the consensus amongst the riders is that the TDA organisers have seriously underestimated the difficulty of the route. The off road surface was supposed to have been hard packed dirt which would have been as good as tarmac for riding on. The reality is that the road consisted of loose gravel and sand which has made for some extremely challenging riding.
At this stage of the tour everyone is mentally and physically exhausted and these shockingly hard days have come as an unpleasant suprise. Many riders have opted to take the trucks rather than ride whole days. The daily distances have been outrageous but much respect goes to those riders who have completed them all anyway. Continued respect to the 10 remaining EFI riders who have maintained the mental and physical discipline to cycle “Every F*cking Inch” so far.
I've utterly had enough of being on a bicycle for 10+ hours per day and have opted for the truck a few times. I have been suffering from a cough and a mild stomach upset which have not helped my energy levels. I know that I can complete the distances but my rationale is that it is better to enjoy what is left of the tour rather than turn it into an ordeal. I want to arrive in Capetown fit and well rather than having run my body into the ground for no good reason.
I'm incredibly excited about finishing the tour and getting back home. It will be a long time before I take washing machines, hot showers and sleeping in a real bed for granted.
Day 108 – Sesriem to Betta
132 Km on dirt / gravel roads. An incredibly tough day. The temperature was hot, the road surface covered with deep sand, gravel and corrugations. Not quite as bad as northern Kenya but very reminiscent. The worst part were the awful flies that would continuously buzz and circle around my face. As one fly was swatted away, another would take it's place.
Despite the stunning scenery I'm not feeling at all enthusiastic about riding and my mood deteriorated all morning. At 60Km the lunch truck came past and I stopped and jumped on. Slept all the way to camp.
Feeling very fatigued and not sure how I will make it to the end.
Day 109 – Betta to Konikep
151Km dirt / gravel road. Woke up with dodgy stomach and really not feeling like riding 150Km. Rode the truck all day.
The closer we get to Capetown, the more daunting the remaining distance seems to be.
Day 110 – Konikep to Seeheim
126Km dirt road. More stunning scenery. Still not feeling too good. Wonder if I'm going down with a cold. I've had a slight cough for a few days which seems to be getting worse.
At lunchtime I almost got on the truck but ended up having a great afternoons riding with Jay, one of the new sectional riders. Very tired by the time we arrived in camp.
At camp, the dutch riders have organised a surprise celebration in honour of Queen Beatrixes official birthday. I joined in with the spirit of the occaission by drinking more than a fair amount of the traditional
Dutch orange liqueur.
Day 111 – Seeheim to Hobos
110Km on dirt road. Stunning scenery but riding quite slowly. I think my cold is catching up with me. It seems that I've been forgetting to take my vitamin tablets which may be part of the problem.
Just didn't feel like riding in the afternoon so jumped on the truck.
At camp, the TDA organised one of the support trucks to take us all to the nearby “Fish River Canyon” viewpoint. Fish River Canyon is apparently the 2nd deepest canyon in the world. It's pretty impressive but is apparently nothing in comparison to the Grand Canyon.
Day 112 – Hobos to Felix Unite
175Km on partly dirt and partly paved roads.
I woke up utterly not feeling like riding 175Km. Feeling a bit guilty I considered the possibility of riding a half day and then a quarter day. I quickly realised I didn't want to ride even 10Km and got my bike loaded onto one of the trucks.
Spent the day reading a book on the truck. Some of the riders rode a “naked mile”. Ie stripped off completely naked apart from cycle helmet and shoes. A couple of the girls really got into the spirit of it and rode a naked 10Km followed by a topless 30Km.
Day 113 – Rest day in Felix Unite
We're camped at the Felix Unite safari lodge. It's very nice, quiet and by a river that forms the border with South Africa. Almost everyone is very excited about getting to Capetown.