Though we have finished the ride, I have a blog post that I was unable to get on-line due to the remoteness of our route. I would like to share this post with you now.
More lessons I’ve learned while bicycling across Namibia and South Africa. (Preface – these are my personal lessons learned. I speak for none of the other participants as everyone’s experiences are different):
21) Shammy Butter works. 9 hours of repetitive pedaling mandates it’s generous application. On hour 7 a slathering of Lanacane (benzocaine topical) is pure bum and sanity salvation.
22) As observed by Kevin Johansen, “When negotiating rough and sandy dirt roads it’s important to realize that there is a male side and a female side. The male side is on the left and the female side is on the right. The male side is rough though rideable and predictable. The female side is fluid but fickle. It can switch from smooth and rideable to rough and impossible without warning.” Though rather sexist, by and large I found Kevin’s theory accurate.
23) Women can suffer more and better than men. Our fastest and toughest riders are women.
24) The effort of the day is exhausting. We are typically in bed by 6:30. The coolness and beauty of the African mornings has us up at 5:30. Couple this with malaria medication and dreams are prolific. However, as stated by Troy, the day-long deplorable dirt road riding conditions fosters twisted dreams of violence and maniacal torture.
25) At the end of blistering heat days (112 degrees F) the only drink that bounces me back is a syrupy concoction of Sprite & Beer.
26) The endurance riders who have been out for 4 months “just do it”. They don’t question road or weather conditions. They don’t continuously internally auto-negotiate. Like the Nike commercial, they “just do it”.
27) No nationality is inherently better at bicycling than another. Our international group includes riders from England, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Holland, Angola, Greece, USA, Canada, Austria, South Africa and Belgium. All tough and relentless riders.
28) While riding you never, ever think about the end of the trip or even the end of the day. You just concentrate on your next stop – and then your next – and then your next…..
29) 70 seems to be the cut-off age. You seldom find cyclists on these endurance rides aged 70 or older.
30) Don’t fight your present condition. If it’s hot just be hot. If it’s raining just be wet. If you’re tired just be tired. Waging internal battles you cannot win just zaps your energy and frustrates your fragile frame of mind.
31) Everything changes. Bad riding conditions will change to good and visa-versa. Don’t get caught in the trap of hope. Just pedal.
32) Never, ever, under any circumstances ask, “How can it possibly get any worse?”
33) Riding with an overall sense of gratefulness makes your journey much easier.
34) Never give up and on yourself.
Day 14 of 15 and I’m dead-dog tired and sore as hell but still pedaling. Tomorrow it will all be over. Gil