Still learning

More lessons I’ve learned while bicycling across Namibia. (Preface – these are my personal lessons learned. I speak for none of the other participants as everyone’s experiences are different):

9) It is possible to sit on a bicycle seat for 9½ hours as I did yesterday for 172 kilometers (not including lunch and water breaks) on dusty, bum-pounding, dirt roads though the anatomical carnage is truly horrific.

10) The grandeur, desolation, solitude and sheer immensity of the Namibian desert can evoke a flood of tears from seemingly out of nowhere.

11) Relentless headwinds can suck the soul right out of a cyclist.

12) It takes 13 hours for feeling to return to the palms of your hands after a day of cycling pounding, washboarded, dirt roads.

13) After burning 5,000 to 7,000 calories you will gleefully consume anything and everything that happens to be placed in front of you. For instance, my lunch sandwich: 2 slices of bread each soaked with mayo, mustard, steak sauce and hot sauce, 3 pieces of salami, 2 scoops of tuna fish, spaghetti sauce from the night before, ham, shredded cheese, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and salt – lots of salt.

14) Friends like Mike Hobin, my brother Troy, Kevin Johansen, Eric Brandenburg and the other endurance riders are worth their weight in gold in keeping your spirits up and recognizing the daily/hourly signs of overwhelming despondence. Though our group joined in on the 8th and final leg of their 7,500 mile journey, this international collection of cyclists has welcomed us with splendid camaraderie.

15) Your biggest challenge by far on a bicycle ride across Namibia and South Africa is not the washboarded and sandy dirt roads, not the careless drivers speeding by way too close showering you in dust and gravel, it’s not the mind numbing never-ending straight roads, it’s not the grinding, topless hills, it’s not the spirit sucking, sweltering heat nor the battering and relentless head winds – it’s none of these. Your biggest challenge, your most formidable enemy, is your own chattering mind. It’s your self-talk to which you have to be most vigilant. For it will defeat your faster and surer than all the physical obstacles combined.

15) Having a single purpose goal and getting rid of all superfluous distractions forces us to face ourselves. It forces us to recognize our core being. And many times what you find is very different than what you were expecting.

Day 8 of 15 and I’m still pedaling. More to follow! Gil


[Rancho Feliz ~ in the hands of Mike Hobin!]

Lessons learned…

[Gil getting some price quotes]

Ok – lessons I’ve learned while bicycling across Namibia:

1) Never, and I mean never, jump in with a group of seasoned, hard-core cyclists for the last 1,200 miles when they’re on the final stretch of their unfathomable 7,500 mile ride and expect to keep up.

2) Namibia is a friggen desert. My Garman thermometer registered 112.5 degrees mid-day. Hydrate is the mantra.

3) Most of the roads in Namibia are dirt, wash boarded, full of sand and very dusty. Momentum is a concept – not a reality.

4) People in Namibia drive very, very fast and have little, actually no, regard for cyclists so you better get the hell out of the way.

5) Namibian flies can actually keep up with you at any speedy and repeatedly attempt to nest in your nose holes.

6) You can actually bruise your bum on a bicycle. I mean black/blue bruise. (I wear 2 pair of cycling shorts – seriously.)

7) After being “in the saddle” for 8 hours you can go to bed at 6:00pm and not wake up until morning.

8) It’s possible to wash all of your riding gear in an 8 x 14 inch sink. It takes approximately 6 hours for a pair of padded cycling shorts to dry.

Yes – these first 7 days have been quite a learning experience. A little more than I bargained for perhaps. But I’m still here and I’m still pedaling.

More to come! Gil


About that quote…

[Photo: Troy, Kevin, Gil & Eric on our first rest day in largest sand dunes in the world ]

I do remember mentioning that occasionally one should put oneself in a position to ask “What in the ever loving world have I gotten myself into!”

At this very moment I cannot recall the exact thought process behind that sentiment.

I have just come in from the 7th day of riding ALL DAY. The 1st 6 days on rough sandy roads. Today we rode on a little pavement – that was very nice. All days have been in 112 degrees heat.

You might wonder what that does to a person. Here is a small idea:

It is 6pm. I am about to go to sleep for the night. After the days ride, covered in dirt and a little fatigued, I drank 1/2 gallon of water, a beer, 3 cokes, and some energy drinks.

OK!! I am out of my comfort zone. Let the comfort zone expanding begin.

Goodnight, Gil



Good start???

Note from Kevin:

We are here in Namibia, nice people, good food and very clean. We are staying few miles from where the tour group is staying , so I thought it would be a good idea to ride over and pump up my tires with a good pump with a pressure gauge on it. First off they drive on the wrong side of the road. Instinct says to swerve right when flustered, here it puts you right into oncoming traffic. Quite unnerving.
Finally I got to the group camp, the crew was there along with a few other riders. I found a pump, started with the back tire took it up to 60 psi and boom, blew the tire off the rim. It splattered tire sealant all over the area and me… the next 45 minutes was spent trying to reseat the uncooperative tubeless tire that now has a tube in it.
I’m sure they are thinking what the hell is he doing here… Oh well first impressions…
Off we go tomorrow. Maybe things will go better. Looking forward to it


Note from Kim:

Day 2 of riding is complete. 13 more to go! I note safely from my cozy office. (hee hee hee)



The countdown is on


Eric, Troy, Kevin with our local friend

We arrived safe in Windhoek on Monday! We made it, Mike (the “Hobinator”) made it, the bikes made it, and Eric arrived on Tuesday.

Met the riders and crew we will be hanging with for the 1,200 miles. It’s unfathomable that, like Mike, most have ridden bicycles here from Cairo, Egypt. Tough crowd!

I went for a short ride yesterday. It felt good. It’s the singleness of purpose I like.  Once on the bike all you have to do is pedal. Nothing else really matters.

Gil and Eric

Gil & Eric

Did have one small setback – Kevin was pumping his tubeless tire and the friggen thing exploded! That tire is no longer tubeless.

My sister Elizabeth’s chocolate chip cookies also made it to Africa. They were devoured on the spot. Mike especially liked them. Of course he is burning around 7,000 calories per day so he can eat what he wants.Cookies

Mike, Troy, Kevin & Eric

Our first day begins tomorrow. 114 kilometers on dirt roads.  Hope last night’s Zebra and Kudo steaks (I’m not making this up!) don’t have any negative side effects.

Many thanks to all of you have supported this effort. Gil


Mike ~ “the Hobinator”

Off to Africa!

Amigos y Amigas,

We (brothers Gil & Troy Gillenwater, Kevin Johansen & Eric Brandenburg) have decided to shake up our comfortable lives & embark on our own “Extreme Sport/Extreme Karma” fundraising event.

Get this…

Our friend, Mike Hobin, is riding the entire continent of Africa from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa – 7,500 miles. Can you believe it? We will be joining Mike in Windhoek, Namibia and riding the final 1,200 miles into Cape Town – in 15 days.

Kevin-Gil-Troy-AZ-1800Mike started riding on January 15, 2016, and we will join him on April 28th. Namibia has the largest sand dunes in the world and 30% of the roads will be paved. Now that’s an adventure.

Mike is a Rancho Feliz “Guardian Warrior” and he is raising money for Rancho Feliz. We want to do the same.

So please check out our posts and support our efforts with a donation. (Our shared goal is $50,000 and all donations go directly to the charity and not funding our trip.)

We are firm believers that in our relative existence, comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort. And if occasionally we don’t ask ourselves,

“What in the ever loving world have I gotten myself into!”

We’re not doing it right.

Talk with you soon!

Gil, Troy, Kevin & Eric

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