Leaving Iringa we began then 1071 km section that would take us from Tanzania to Lilongwe in the south of Malawi. Riding out of Iringa with my parents and Jane, we quickly became known as Team Jethro amongst the other TDA riders. The 120km day was one of the best so far – after completing it with the rest of Team Jethro, we spent the night in an awesome forest camp and I received my section plate for winning the previous section. The next few days were quite relaxed with rolling hills and great views of Tanzania. On the fourth day we dropped down into the Rift Valley (2300m of descent that day!) and crossed the border into Malawi.
One day of riding a stone throw away from Lake Malawi took us to one of the best rest days so far – Chitimba Beach…beer, food and beach! On the rest day a couple of pigs we put on a spit braai and we swam in Lake Malawi. The last time we swam at a beach was on day 4 of the trip in the Red
Leaving Chitimba beach we faced a 10km climb and over 800m of ascent – I just couldn’t resist the urge to race that stage. Climbing the switchbacks up alongside Lake Malawi with extreme humidity and a scorching sun at 8am, while dropping the rest of the group one-by-one and going over the summit solo was fully awesome! That got me hooked on the race again and I’ve been making a habit of winning stages since then, and plan to do so until Cape Town.
A few more days of rolling hills took us to the end of the section in Lilongwe. The best thing about Lilongwe is Steers! I lost count of how many Steers burgers and milkshakes I put away there. The second best thing about Lilongwe is Nando’s! Need I say more?
Unfortunately, Team Jethro had to be disassembled in Lilongwe. The rest of the team flew back to South Africa from there, while I rode on to the Zambian border. The 5 day stretch from Lilongwe to Lusaka (where I am now) has been one of the largest mileage sections. We’ve had a 197km day and a couple 150km+ days, all with rolling hills and one with some serious climbing. Zambia started off quite unspectacular and boring, but has become much more scenic and exciting closer to Lusaka.
In Lusaka we’re having a brief transition back to the western world – steaks, real beer (that is also cold), movies and even an Irish pub! It’s strange going from waking up in the Zambian bush, to doing a stage of the TDA and ending up watching some crappy American movie with smarties and coke. It’s going to be tough when this ends in Cape Town.