Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Its a Lilongwe Across Africa

When I crawled into my tent last night to the sound of bad pop music at the hotel club and other TDA riders snoring in adjacent tents, it was hot but there was a cool breeze and excellent view of a cloudless sky. My last thought before going to bed was that I wouldn’t need to cover my tent with my stifling but effective rain fly on such a beautiful night. You all know where this story is going.

Three hours later, without even a droplet or two to harbinger the oncoming deluge, the skies opened up in a torrent that would have intimidated Noah in his Ark. I bolted out of my tent in my underwear like a banshee, screaming a few choice words, but it was already too late. Within seconds, my tent, my stuff and my entire body were drenched to the bone from the inside out. This Tour has been a good test of how we react under stress, and in this case I failed miserably. I couldn’t get the rain fly on properly, which resulted in the impossibility of even more water getting in my tent. When I crawled back inside, I looked like I had just swum in Lake Malawi. I toweled off, crawled into a toasty damp sleeping bag, and decided to deal with it in the morning. Just when I thought I had the whole camping thing figured out…I commit a rookie mistake!

I was a bit late and waterlogged at breakfast the next morning, when German Gisi came up to me with a smirk and asked how I liked my waterbed. Her tent was across from mine, and she said she has never laughed so hard watching someone run around frantically in her underwear in the rain. It is a credit to Gisi’s character that she contemplated coming out into the downpour to help me…but decided it was just raining to hard. Gisi and I had a good laugh at my expense, which is the only way to get through these moments on this Tour.

I dried out about 20k into the ride, which was a bit of a drag into Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe. This always happens on days leading into rest days- we check out mentally before completing the task at hand. The afternoon once again resulted in an annoying headwind, and I pushed myself to stick to a paceline with Lynne, who is a very experienced and fast Canadian rider, and former racer at the junior nationals level. I think she was taking it easy, but it was fun for me to have a fast afternoon into Lilongwe. It is amazing how much a ride can change even within the course of a day, and I smiled as I arrived in Lilongwe to dry out my waterbed in the afternoon sun.

Our rest day in Lilongwe has been like every other- short on time and long on chores. Laundry, bike cleaning, supermarket, post office, feedings of ice cream, chips and half chickens every half hour or so and internet fill more than a day’s work. I was thinking how nice it would be to read a book on a rest day instead of feeling more tired!

A prominent South African diplomat took an interest in our expedition and Madonna is in town opening up a school, so we have shared the center of attention in town for once. The highlight of my day today was a Tour d’Afrique Foundation bike donation ceremony, one of several on the trip. In the Running’s donation helped purchase 30 bikes for aid workers in Malawi, and we enjoyed a heartfelt and significant ceremony at Mabuya Camp with the aid workers. I was interviewed for Malawi radio, so if anyone manages to catch the broadcast please let me know 🙂

I am finishing the long rest day now with a glass of South African wine, a homemade fruit salad and a still unpacked bag for tomorrow. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Malawi, cross the Zambia border and immediately encounter some heavily inflated currency and five big mileage days into our next “rest” day in Lusaka. Time to get tough again! No rest for the weary!


One Response to “Its a Lilongwe Across Africa”

  1. Hey Er, strong work, keep it up.
    Skiing at Tuck’s this weekend!

    Didn’t your younger brother teach you to NEVER be fooled by Mother Mature during our various outings in the wilderness?

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