After a much needed rest day in Lusaka we faced a somewhat flat section of around 500km in 3 days to Livingstone. Long flat days were about to become the norm – the average day now is around 160km with seldom more than 300m of ascent or descent across the entire stage. Pure roadie stuff! However, with a new set of slicks delivered by Team Jethro in Iringa, the right attitude and some roadie style riding (i.e. riding in groups – usually smaller ones when I’m done laying the smack down) I won the Zambezi Zone section (Lilongwe to Livingstone) and showed the roadies that mountain bikes aren’t only for the dirt roads!
We spent two rest days in Livingstone. Other than three days in Arusha, this is the only time on the tour that we get more than one day off the bike. The first night most of the group joined an all-you-can-eat/drink sunset booze cruise…I don’t think a large group of hungry cyclists will be welcome back on that cruise any time soon! And with two days off to follow, there was no holding back on the all-you-can drink either.
During the rest days I hit Steers as often as I could and squeezed in a trip to Vic Falls too. That’s one kickass waterfall!
As rested as we could be, we left Livingstone on a very short (80km) day to the Botswana border and took a ferry across from Zambia into Botswana at Kazungula. Getting into camp early gave us the opportunity to spend the afternoon cruising on the Chobe River. There’s tons of wildlife in Botswana – in a couple hours we saw lion chasing down impala, crocs, elephants, hippos and loads of other stuff.
During the next 4 days we saw more wildlife, this time from our tents or bicycles and not safely from a river cruise. A couple jackals crossed the road in front of me yesterday, giraffe have been grazing on the side of the road a few times (one crossed the road meters from our camp) and there are elephants everywhere. The locals think we are crazy to be cycling and camping out there. In the last few days I have seen only two locals on the side of the road outside of towns – one was carrying an axe, the other a rifle. I won’t be wondering off too far from camp in the night!
We arrived in Maun yesterday and have a rest day here today. Last night we celebrated the birthday of the oldest rider on TDA 2010 – Riner turned 69 yesterday and sponsored a generous bar tab! With the exception of a couple weeks off following an accident, he has cycled almost every inch from Cairo to here…he is hardcore.
Tomorrow we aim towards the Namibian border and look forward to the longest day of the tour – 207km!