After a fabulous 60th birthday party for our co-rider Christine (who, by the way, doesn’t look a day over 45!), plus the rain pouring down this morning, everyone was moving a bit slow and looking forward to a hot breakfast at the Wimpy’s down the road in Nata. Unfortunately, Wimpy’s wasn’t prepared for a large crowd of hungry cyclists and in the chaos I was one of the last to get their food, 2 hours after we ordered it! Luckily I was joined by Paul Spencer, Bastian and Liam were also late in getting their food and we set out and covered the 184 km of flat, straight Botswanian road together.
A Coke stop mid-morning allowed Bastian a chance to achieve his 5-min a day conversation with a local. At lunch we learned that we were at leat an hour behind the previous riders, many of whom had taken the lunch truck out to do a half day (many more had ridden the trucks all the way to camp due to partying too hard or an aversion to rain!). Elvis was the sweeper for the afternoon, and we enjoyed having him along as we clocked the post-lunch kilometers. He didn’t even complain when we stopped in at teh beautiful Baobab Tree Lodge at 110km for some drinks and food, and of course a jump in the pool. Elvis is a wealth of information about Arica, from its tribal history to species of trees, I love talking to him about it all.
As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that we were going to be cutting it close for getting back to camp by sunset. We kept pusibng the pace and as we neared the refresh stop at 152km, the TdA staff told us ‘You’re late!’ and we had to skip the refresh and keep pushing it in, with one hour to go to complete the last 32 km. Lucky for us the last part of the day granted us some amazing animal sitings, including 4 bull elephants eating togetehr about 400 meters down a dirt road, a family of warthogs scurring away, and one big bull elephant on the side of the road flapping its ers at us.. the TdA staff drove their truck slowly between us and the bull to ensure we could pass by safely. As we neared the finish for the day, right about 6pm, we were treated to an amazing sunset with brilliant yellows and oranges filling up teh sky. What a long, exhausting, beautiful day!