This morning has been a difficult start: deep sand, heavy corrugation, and downhill right out of camp against freezing air. My fingers had become so frozen that it was painful to pull my breaks or shift my gears. Before TDA, there’s no way I’d have cycled under these conditions, and if, there’s no way I’d not have fallen off my bike at least five times. Well, going slowly and staying on constant alert helped me (and everyone else) stay safe.
When the dirt got better, and the sun had come out, I picked up speed. I almost slipped in a deep sandy patch. My foot un-cleated instinctively, but my bike was already tilted 45°, and I could see myself rolling across the sand, bike smashing my face. Luckily, I managed to re-balance and keep going.
This was not the first or only time I almost fell. I’d had many such instances on our dirt road days, just that this instance today was a particularly close shave. However, focus and being on constant alert (as well as luck, of course) has helped me stay save and avoid accidents, so far—fingers crossed.
When the road requires less attention, I focus on my audiobooks. That way, I don’t think much about the effort and pain of cycling (yes, sometimes it’s painful!). It also helps me to live in the moment, rather than just looking forward to when I finally reach camp. What would I do at camp if I was there early? Sit, and read a book. Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing on my bike, so why stress to get into camp, right?
The point I’m trying to make is that what we focus on becomes our reality. So why waste time and energy focusing on negative thoughts? Rather than remembering today as a difficult long day, which it has been, I’ll remember it as a pleasant ride learning all about Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built (my current audio entertainment).
Well, OK, you’ve caught me—I’m struggling to come up with a better story or lesson learnt. Thanks for bearing with me anyway. 😉
Stage 83: Kliprand – Nieuwoudtville (South Africa), 140km
Road & traffic condition:
Terrible sand and corrugation out of camp, then better dirt road.
Finally tar again after lunch, all the way through to camp, making our 20km climb into Nieuwoudtville more manageable.
It’s been freezing cold in the morning—well, almost, with only 3° C! It was foggy and miserable, as if unexpected rain was to defy the weather forecast. Everyone put on all the layers we had. Most riders took the truck to lunch. Luckily, we could see the sun come out only a few minutes into the ride, and the temperature become very pleasant from them onwards.
It’s much nicer to climb at 25°C with a breeze than at 30°C+ with stagnant air! Cold again in the evening as soon as the sun has gone done, making us either run for our tents, or move close together around the BBQ for the remaining warmth of the coal.
BBQ steaks, yam, squash, rice, salad with lots of cheese—yummy!
- A day that seemed terrible to start with has turned into a rather pleasant day for all of us. The few of us who rode all the way had an unexpectedly nice riding day (though some say they were still suffering, either in the dirt or with the final climb). And those who took the truck and came into camp early enjoyed coffees, drinks, ice cream or other delights in the local town (Nieuwoudtville).
- Scenery somewhat more interesting then yesterday, when we’ve had mostly a desert-like landscape (that might have been interesting to start with, but not after weeks of desert through Namibia). However, as we’re cycling through the middle of nowhere, there are still not many landmarks, or even just houses, along the way. I’m surprised how people can live out here, so far away from everyone and everything else.
- Marie had an accident with a car yesterday late afternoon. The driver (an elderly gentleman) tried to slow down, but didn’t move lanes. What happens to us cyclists in the sand also happened to the car driver—he slid and collided with Marie. Marie is one of those riders who’s always trying to help others. She’s been riding with Liz to give her company and support her for her EFI. Early morning, Tallis drove her to hospital—bad news: her elbow is broken! So sorry for Marie. But she’s taking her fate bravely and with grace—cheerfully, no winching. However, this is yet another example of the big role of luck in our journey. All the best to Marie for a painless (mostly), smooth and speedy recovery!
Simply the fact that I’m still feeling strong, relatively speaking, and enjoying my ride.