I don't want to moan about how hard its been (by the way its been really really hard...) so I'm only going to talk about the positives! I will quickly mention that I may not be able to complete this in the 90 days, but I am going to try my absolute hardest to, don't you worry. (I have realised that the 'Tour d' Afrique' from Cairo to Cape Town is 11 000km, just 1000 more than my trip and they do it in 4 months, I really am taking a wiggly route!)
The striking thing for me so far is that I have come across such kindness from everyone I have met, be it neighbors Nick and Barbara sharing their Braii with me in the camp site, Neil from Neil's Cycle Worx in Springbok who serviced my bike on the house, a guest house owner, a border official, everyone and anyone. I think there is something wrong with Europe - we will only be your friend if we have been introduced! Everywhere else in the world it seems to be down to you to introduce yourself. I also know, as soon as I am back home, I will revert immediately back to my true British nature and become all shy again with everyone I don 't know - we are infuriating!
I am just going to look at my diary and pick a couple of things to write about,
First the physical aspect:
I am knackered. I had rest day yesterday in Springbok, a busy little mountain town - a very important rest and I did 130km today (I am now just over the white hot Namibian border, in quite a fancy campsite- just had a swim in the orange river, which acts as the border between SA and Namibia) - a new PB so am slowly getting my fitness up, I think.
My bum is sore, but not as sore as my quads, my quads are hard but not as hard as the uphills, the uphills are constant but not as constant as the wind. The wind is constant. Constant!
I am going to write to the SA tourist board and propose a new slogan for their campaigns; "South Africa. The hilliest and windiest place. In the World" Nice ring to it I think.
I am averaging about 100km per day, so at this rate I will be there in 100 days, cross your fingers everyone.
Until the day before yesterday, the first 5/6 days (apart from day 3 with James and Becky in the Cederberg) were pretty boring to be honest - dry and bushy and I have just focused on the pedaling ( a bit like the Haute Route Dad)
However one of two main positives about cycling into the mountains is that the last few days have been stunning - today was breathtaking, and now already in Namibia there is a definite change - I think (aside from the heat) I am going to love it here. Great dark brown deserty mountains, slowly cooking away like chocolate sponges (the other positive about the mountains obviously is the temperature).
I have felt completely safe and unthreatened and rarely lock up my bike here - I feel much less likely to have it stolen here than in Dublin for example. There was one quite hairy moment though in a pretty grim deserted campsite I stopped at in Garies (pronounced - qsjgdaskduaweluieoi),
I had been warned by the man who took my money
"bad men from next town, they come and smash glass in nighttime"
To which I replied, "in which case, can I have my money back??" I felt, quite rightfully I think, that I shouldn't have to pay if it was a known fact that bad boys come and smash glass on the campers!
"No, no, when they see you tent they no come"
"hmmmm" I was suspicious, and I admit a little nervous.
At around 1am, I awoke to hear 'Roar' by Katy Perry (I know Jim - what luck!) booming out of a car clearly parked about 10 meters from my tent, exactly where my bike was. I sat inside my tent camly and sleepily considering my options. After about 10 mins of sitting there I decided I had to acknowledge them, I knew they must know there is no way in heaven that I could be asleep. I got out my tent, and they were all gathered around my bike...
"hey man!!! Come drink, come smoke, we haaave everyting!"
"No thanks lads, just having a pee, don't hurt my bike eh!"
"No no, we no harm you or your bike, we just drink and sing!"
"cool cool, enjoy your evening" - and I crawled back into my tent... They left at about three, having spoken to them I really didn't feel worried, if I were a local in a small town that would have been the exact part of town I would have gone to for a session with the lads. Also, the next song to come on was Celine Deon, they weren't exactly rude boys.
I have now stocked up for the desert, I have at least three days worth of food and water on my bike (it is seeeeriously heavy now). I was feeling quite nervous about it but the more people I speak to, the more I think I will be fine. If worst comes to worst I will flag someone down (if anyone passes me.....)
Please forgive me for the detached and quite boring style this is all written in - I think of funny anecdotes all day that I want write, and here I am and I can remember none! So sleepy! In essence I am happy (more and more so)-I think the rest was a very good call, but struggling. I think in a couple of weeks I will have a better idea as how the rest will pan out. Now I am used to the camping and cooking etc. and that there will be (hopefully) a little less up hill from now on - all will be well. Just need to keep going at the moment!
A few things I have learned;
This is a serious physical challenge.
People are nice.
Hilly South African dirt roads are not fun (especially when your map said it was tarred...)
Never leave late: HOT
I love billtong and dried fruit ( I eat little of anything else)
I'm not very good at cycling.
Bicycling hurts your neck, as does not having a pillow in a tent.
I'm not going very far - I met a Chinese cyclist on the road (my first one!) today who cycled here from Beijing. When he gets to Cape Town he is turning around and cycling home again. Fruit Cake.
P.s. I do constant little status things on my 'tracker' which I KNOW only my parents are reading at the moment, so if you're bored give them a wee read!