Heat radiates off the blackened tar road as the 40/104 c/f days begin to melt into a timeless collage of pushing the pedals. I am constantly giggly, smiling and singing to 1960's classic tunes as my faded green tavu visor attempts to block out the sun's continuous heat. Something has crossed over in me, not even the daily temperatures can interrupt my giddiness of heading for Capetown. The city and southern most point of Africa is only 750/466 km/m away.
A country wide barbed wire fence guards much of Namibia. Wild camping opportunities are minimal. Creative solutions keep me laughing as my international hobboist with bicycle status is elevated to a hole new level. I tuck inside a drain pipe under the road to escape the strong head winds and spend the night, humorously pondering where on earth this all went so wrong?
As the morning luminescent light clears the hills on the western edge of the Kalahari desert, I am back in the saddle. I peer down the road over the handlebars. My eyes strain through the glare of the shimmering sun beams. A cyclist, the 7th I have seen in all of Africa is heading towards me. He must of started in Capetown I reason to myself as I grin giddy delight at someone to talk to. I do my best to not frighten him as I bounce to a hyper halt, hit the breaks and bellow out a huge overly enthusiastic
“Hello, how are you?”
His shiny new ortlieb panniers, clean Thorn Sherpa Bicycle, neatly combed hair and grin of a realized dream in the embryo stage are spread across his smiling pale fresh face as he responds
“I was wondering when I would meet my first cyclist, where did you come from?”
I raise my bright pink arm and brush the dirty sweat from my stinging sunburned smiling lips. I shift my swollen calloused feet as I straddle my faded green magic bicycle and answer
“I started in Cairo then south through the Sahara of Sudan, west around Lake Victoria through Uganda, Rwanda then through Tanzania, down Lake Malawi across Zambia, Botswana into Namibia”
“What about Ethiopia? How was that?” John, an ex-triathlete now on his first bicycle tour asks
Good Ol'e infamously demonized on blogs Ethiopia, I think to myself as I lean forward and adjust my oversized gear cables that were sent out to me by SJS (Ship Jack Shit) Cycles. Send, only after a lengthy 6 phone call ordeal to the British based bike shop who are in need of their own managerial adjustments.
“Ethiopia, really isn't as bad as all the blogs make it out to be... you will get hit by a few rocks maybe a stick but the Omo Valley is well worth the stone warfare and the occasional really bizarre person you will meet”. I answer and bust out laughing at how ridiculous that must sound to anyone who is on their way there.
“What about Northern Kenya? How was that?”
“Oh they shoot trucks there, so I pushed my bicycle through the sand for a week on the Western side of Lake Turkana into Kenya.” I continue laughing at how utterly not supportive I must sound about the thing I truly love about bicycle touring from Cairo to Capetown. That despite the horrific media reports, there is usually a safe fun way if you are up for an adventure.
“I hear Sudan is wonderful, how was that?” John peers through his unscratched sunglasses, he looks at me, now also laughing at my poor descriptions of a truly beautiful continent. Countries rich with the birthplace of humanity, loads of nice people, stunning landscapes, welcoming schools for free camping and the photography.
“Sudan?, Oh, I got stuck in a sandstorm, destroyed my MH skyledge 2.1 tent poles, so I slept out in the desert without a tent under the full moon thinking about scorpions for a week...I love Sudan, Nubian hospitality is amazing, one of the best places I have ever bicycle toured” I chuckle in a self deprecating, sardonic tone.
“What are your plans, when you get to Capetown?” Jon grins as he cools off in the afternoon heat and unzips the top of his new clean cycling jersey.
“I think I want to visit the mental hospital. I hear they have purple straight jackets, I look great in purple... actually, I will not be able to drink beer in a straight jacket, so I think I will just take a break from the road, rework my journal into a draft of a book while my stories are fresh in my head, have a good ride, take care”
I thank John for the laugh and wave goodbye. I watch him pedal away as he heads off towards a thousands stories of his own and the beautiful although wonderfully challenging continent that lies ahead.