Cycling in Namibia has been amazing, enjoyable, rewarding but also very intense physically.
I had no previous expectations of Namibia but the scenery has really blown me away. It has been so unbelievable compared to the monotony of Botswana. The mountains, the sand dunes, the landscape have been really stunning.
The terrain has been all been off road apart from the first 15km out of Windhoek. For the most part the 8 days spent off road have been hard packed dirt which has been easy to ride on, similar to road. There have been intermittent sections of deeper sand and rocks which proved extraordinarily tough. One particular day in particular caused huge difficulty and forced many people to dig deep into their reserves of energy to survive the day.
26th May to 28th May Windhoek to Sesriem
A three day stretch from Windhoek started with a beautiful 114km cycle over rolling hills into the arid, dry Namib Desert. The speed was good and the cycle was interesting visually. I was able to pedal along with no one around to distract my attention from the road and the amazing backdrop. The following day, a cycle of 124km to the beautiful little rest stop of Solitaire was even more amazing. The highlight being the Spreetshoogle Pass. Rolling up, suddenly the world opened up. A spectacular view spread across as far as the eye could see. Despite my eagerness to get to camp, I had to stop for some photos. A descent of 500m in 5 kilometres followed and I made my way to camp. Solitaire, was the perfect place to spent the evening, a delightful bakery with an amazing selection of freshly cooked goodies greeted the hungry cyclist. The place decorated with vintage cars embedded in the sand gave a rustic sense of desert isolation. The following day was a fun day, we had a 30km individual time trial which I managed to finish fourth. Lucas and Chas the new sectional riders finished first and second with Steffen in third.
Lucas Brunelli, a film documentary maker has joined the cycle for this section. He has shot some amazing footage in his career as a cycle messenger in major cities around the world with many daring stunts. He is making a short video for Cinelli who are promoting their Bootleg model of bike, I look forward to the finished video product.
In the afternoon we did the annual TDA naked mile. All the guys stripped off and cycled down the road. The amazing scenic desert mountains provided the backdrop for our white asses! The ladies followed down the road one we had disappeared out of sight.
The next day we made the early morning trip from Sesriem to the massive sand dunes and the dead trees in Deadflei. The dunes reaching over 300m in height were truly stunning. We climbed up at sunrise and relaxed as the early morning sun warmed our bones. After some silly photos were back to camp to relax for the five day stint ahead.
30th April to 4th May Sesriem to Felix Unite
A brutal hard day, one of the worst, probably in my top three most difficult of the entire tour. One that shook many people and forced lots of riders to dig exceptionally deep to finish the day. It started off with such a light hearted and funny tone. Alex, Freek and myself decided to buy some silly clothes in Windhoek and wear them on the first mando day. Pink leggings, pink socks, pink visors, yellow sunglasses and a coloured tank top! After a few hours struggling in the hot dry sun, the pink leggings were proving to be no the smartest decision. It took about 3 and a half hours to make it to lunch. I had ran out of water 20km previously and my mouth was so dry. I told Adele at lunch that there may be a situation and that people may need water. A passing by car stopped saying the people were stopping them, that they had ran out of fluids. A decision was made to send the lunch truck back to help those in distress. I was a at lunch with Alex and we headed on after consuming plenty of fluids and fruit. After lunch there was miminal rest bite. I kept plugging away, the day dragged on for hours in the difficult terrain. Eventually I reached the flag. One of my longest days on the bike, nearing 7 hours. Everyone arrived in looking absolutely shattered. All who EFI intact managed to battle to the bitter end and maintain their status, some using all the light in the day to get to camp, some amazing efforts.
1st May 152km Betta to Konkiep Lapa
The morning was quite difficult churning my way quite miserably through deep sand. I got bogged down on numerous occasions. Eventually the road hardened up and I managed to get into my groove. I happened to catch Pascal in he morning after a beautiful downhill section which I really attacked. We cycled the rest of he day together and a fantastic section of really hard packed sand eased our passage at the end. We were able to motor along at 40km an hour and reached camp in good spirits. We didn't sprint and was happy out to pick p another stage win.
2nd May Konkiep Lapa to Sesriem 124km
A mixed day in which we had the pleasure of cycling on pavement for the first time in a while. We were lucky to have a tailwind for the morning and the pace was very hot as I pedalled with the Cinelli guys in the race group. Freek and John, Daniel took he opportunity though to skip lunch and go for stage wins. Freek came out on top by quite a margin. Myself and Pascal decided to cruise along and keep the tiring legs from aching any more instead of attempting to chase down the rogue attackers. Camp was at a nice hotel and some food and evening rest was on the agenda.
3rd May Sesriem to Canon Rest House 92km
An easy day on paper turned out to be miserable slog. A vicious headwind brought speeds to extremely low levels. A day where people hoped to get a rest proved to be a horrible struggle and showed that there are no easy days. I cycled with Pascal for the day, each of us taking pulls. Pascal was stronger than me and was bearing more of the brunt at the front, I worked unreal hard whenever I could. My legs ached and unfortunately were not getting any rest. Eventually we reached our destination far beyond the time we had expected. Canon Rest House again provided opportunity to consume extra calories. The whole evening was taken up by worries cyclists looking at maps of the route ahead and speculating on what direction the wind would come from on the following day. There was a sense of foreboding for the final day of the stretch. After a few bowls of dinner, everyone scuttled off to the tents to rest for the big day ahead.
4th May 173km Canon Rest House to Felix Unite
The last cycling day in Namibia. The morning was filled with trepidation as the cyclists feared a headwind like the days previously. Some headed out at first light eager to utilise as much light as possible. The day actually turned out to be ok. The scenery was stunning, we cycled alongside canyons, up mountain sides with amazing view and down some stunning fast descents. I cycled with the race group for most of the day, by the end it had been whittled down to myself, Pascal and Lucas who joined at lunch. I was so delighted to reach the pavement and had 40 km to go. We passed some vineyard developments on our way. The camp was situated in a river valley and had some nice facilities.
With only 6 riding days to Cape Town, this amazing trip is reaching it's conclusion. It is hard to believe I am nearly there. So much has been seen and done, so many kilometres have been cycled. So many days of tough cycling and so many funny and amazing moments. I am looking forward to the end but I don't think I have fully grasped the magnitude of the what we have done.
I roll into Cape Town on Saturday the 11th, maybe it will hit me then...I can't wait!