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!]