Windy Windy Windhoek
The 207 kilometer ride was the third day of a five day stretch, and I gave it everything I had both physically and mentally. It was the longest distance I have ever ridden, over mind-numbing boring roads. I felt good about my effort, but realized I was in trouble the next day when I had nothing left in the tank and had to ride two more back-to-back hundred milers.
This has happened before on this trip, and I have found a way to persevere each time. On the first century following the 207k mando day, we found out at lunch that we would pass by a Wimpy’s in the afternoon. Wimpy’s is basically like McDonald’s, but the milkshakes are better and it’s frequently located in gas stations. A pack of wild dogs couldn’t have chased raw meat as voraciously as we hunted down that Wimpy’s. As French Girald said, “How sad is it that Wimpy’s is all we have to look forward to?”. Chocolate milkshakes were the fuel that powered the TDA to the finish line on this day.
On our final day of the section, we faced 160k into Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. The race director started the day with a 20k team time trial. My team was composed of German Hardy, British Viv and Canadians Caroline and Kelsey. We called our mostly female team “Hardy’s Angels” and rocked it. It was so much fun, I didn’t notice the massive headwind and dead feeling in my legs.
By lunch I definitely noticed the headwind, and the afternoon turned into one of the longest and most painful days of the Tour. We were battered, salivating for a rest day, surrounded by boring, remote and congested roads and slowed significantly by the wind. We were also dehydrated, with few options for water along the way. It took the remaining mental strength I didn’t have to find a second wind (so to speak), to roll out of the Kalahari desert and into German-influenced Windhoek. When I finally arrived at the campsite, I decided to perpetuate my existing misery by spending two more hungry, unshowered hours on bike maintenance. I was so tired at a subsequent group dinner at Joe’s, I could barely chew my springbok (a deer-like local animal- quite tasty).
Today I am feeling rejuvenated and my tires, brakes and drive chain are in good working order, just in time for seven days of off-road riding (can you feel my excitement) into the dunes of the Namib desert. We have just over two weeks and 1600 kilometers to the final finish line in Cape Town. The challenge now is not letting thoughts of the future taint the still spectacular and ever challenging present.