Today, we’ve had our longest cycling day so far by distance—172km. No problem, I was up for it. Just that my day didn’t start well.
My rear tire, that I had spent over an hour fixing last night and that Ed had helped me check that there was nothing sharp stuck inside the tire, had gone flat again overnight.
With a positive mind, I opted for wishful thinking.
“Better change it now at camp”, Anmei suggested.
“I hope it might just be another slow puncture. I’ll see whether I can get to lunch”, I just pumped it up again instead of fixing the problem.
A few kilometers into my ride, that strategy soon proved idiotic. My tire felt soft and slowed me down significantly. My average speed was a bare 15km/h. With still 170km to go, that wouldn’t get me into camp by sunset—devastating news for my EFI.
When I saw Paul and Wendy at the side of the road fixing their tire, I also stopped to change my tube. Luckily, our mechanic Leo was our sweep rider today, and it didn’t take him long to catch up with me. With his skilled hand, putting the tire back into place was a quick procedure.
“I’ll be quick now, I promise”, I pushed hard trying to catch up with the rest of the pack.
Pushing hard I did, to the best of my abilities, but I sill failed to get my average speed far above 15km/h. Even on the downhills, I struggled to exceed 20km/h, and on the gentle uphills, my speed dropped below 10km/h. Sure, we were facing some headwind, but not enough to explain my terrible cycling performance.
Like that, it would take me over 10 hours to get into camp! Factoring in some terrible weather changes, more tire repairs or other unforeseen circumstances, I might not make it by sunset.
“Should I ask Leo to check my bike?” I wondered. By that time, however, I eventually managed to catch up with Liz. “Seems I’m not the only one struggling today”, I thought, and blamed the wind and sticky tar for my speed.
I kept pushing on as hard as I could. It took me three hours to cycle 40km. I didn’t need to be a math genius to calculate that I would lose my EFI today, unless we had some nice downhills after lunch, or the wind suddenly decided to change its direction.
“What’s going on?” I wondered when I spotted our TDA flag at the side of the road, 48km into the ride. There was our lunch truck, and a big group of riders.
“Did we have a change of route?” I asked as I walked over.
“No, all good”, Rob replied.
“So why are we having lunch so early?” I was baffled. “This isn’t 79km yet.”
“It sure is.”
“Is this a joke, or what?” I queried again, this time looking around our group for confirmation from other riders. They all looked just as normal, somewhat bored and unimpressed by my arrival, and seemingly didn’t understand my confusion.
“So you’re saying this is 79km, this is no joke?” I confirmed with Rob again.
And then it dawned on me. Unawares, my Garmin must have reset to miles rather than kilometers as a unit of measurement. I checked, reset my Garmin system, and—sure enough—now it also read 78km. Best news of the day!
I was so excited that I would tell my story to every new rider coming into lunch, just as Muzz had re-told his story about the woman chasing him over and over again. From then onwards, I felt I could take it easy and even stopped for a coke (i.e. mango juice) and chat with Tom along the way.
We would face a crazy rain storm and heavy headwind for the last 15km into camp, but I was still so happy that I wasn’t going to lose my EFI that my mind was on top of the wind. Nothing could stop me now.
Stage 42: Arusha – Babati (Tanzania), 172km
Road & traffic condition:
Great tar, mostly with a hard shoulder; little traffic.
Pleasantly cool and overcast in the morning, sunny and hot after lunch, crazy rain storm and headwind for the last 15km (in my case; some people managed to get in ahead of the storm and/or after the rain).
Grilled sausage, mashed potatoes and salad.
With 172km, this has been our longest riding day so far in terms of distance.
Lunch brought some pleasant surprises, not only for me. A cute puppy was roaming our spot in search of water . . .
. . . and Masai boys drove a herd of cows and goats past our lunch truck.
Equipped with a new phone that works like a charm, and a new USB charging cable that also gives some battery life to my old phone, I’ve been able to listen to stuff again while cycling. For the first time, I’ve started listening to an audio book after lunch—best decision ever and makes me wonder why I didn’t do it earlier. It makes the ride a lot more entertaining and time go past a lot faster (rather than constantly checking the mileage on my watch), and gives me the feeling that I’m using my cycling time productively.