I’m over it, over the constant attention, the give-me-money shouting kids, the I-love-you shouting teenagers, and the young men calling me baby. However, it’s not only the boys. While cycling, also the girls and women, in fact everyone up to mid age, seems to be constantly shouting into my ear.
Mostly, I don’t know what they are shouting, probably just cheering me on. To me, however, it starts to have the opposite impact and drain my mental energy. Most of all, I dislike when they shout “faster, faster”, or—at times, especially when I’m trying to pace myself and take it easy—”you’re too slow”. And when, like today, they touch me (even though just on my arm), swear words whirl around my head.
I’ve reverted to a strategy of ignorance, focusing on my audiobook for some distraction and peace of mind. However, ignorance seems to be the hardest punishment I could inflict onto the locals. Dare you ignore their cheering and they instantly pick up their voice into a high pitch—almost desperate—just to make sure I heard them.
And hear them I do, frustratingly well, drowning out the voice narrating the audiobook. This then makes me ignore the locals even more. While I’m sure most of them only have the best intentions and try to wish me well, I would rather have them ignore me altogether. Anonymity is bliss.
I was listening to ex-Guns N’ Roses bass guitarist Duff McKagan’s autobiography It’s So Easy (and other lies). He was very open about his personal struggles, including being overwhelmed with all the public attention and lack of anonymity once the band got famous.
I could see a lot of parallels from my cycling experience. Of course, I’m not saying that I’m famous or successful, but we get to experience that overwhelming attention almost every day, as if we were extreme athletes or super stars, including the (sometimes successful) attempt to make body contact. And let me tell you—it’s tiring! It seems that fame is the price of (not the reward for) success.
Stage 54: Kasungu – Lilongwe (Malawi), 129km
Road & traffic condition:
It got a bit hectic cycling into Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city with about 1m inhabitants. “In past years”, Tallis said, “we always had accidents on that day. I’d have to go either to the hospital or the police station. It’d like to break that record with you guys this year, please watch out . . .” So we did—no (bad) accidents this year round.
Lots of headwind at times, but still a fairly pleasant riding day. Partly overcast, partly sunny with up to ca. 27°C.
I joined a group of riders for Mama Mia’s, Lilongwe’s best Italian restaurant. I would claim that this has been my best meal on the entire tour. We all ordered a starter, main and desert, and each meal looked and tasted fantastic. Accompanied by the first good red wine I’ve had on this tour (we had about a bottle of wine per head!), I will keep very fond memories of Lilongwe. Thanks Kim for organizing!
Rest day tomorrow!
Enjoying great dinner with great people.