United to Felix Unite
Our rest day in Sossusvlei arrived after only three days of Namib desert riding, which meant I faced five more tough days to the Tour’s final rest day in Felix Unite, on the Namibian/South African border. Tour Director Sharita told us we would face more loose sand and corrugation coming out of Sossusvlei, which would make for more challenging days. I always believe what Sharita says.
Despite the rough roads, I progressed smoothly and happily, and even raced an oryx one early morning. An oryx is like a deer but prettier, more exotic and with more ornate horns. It was friendly and galloped competitively alongside each of the riders, until stopping before a long climb into the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Smart oryx.
Post oryx race and long climb I was feeing confident, and took a curving sandy downhill in a weird crosswind a little too fast. Before I could react, BOOM I was down, experiencing my fourth or fifth fall (who’s counting) on this trip. This was a bad one, as I landed on both my wrist (important body part) and derailleur (important bike part). After checking my bike first (a true cyclist), I proceeded to perform my patented post-fall chicken dance. This is where I hop around favoring the side not affected by the fall, screaming “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay,” until I believe what I’m chanting. This must have been very entertaining for American Dan, who rode up behind me and found a six foot tall chanting chicken in the middle of the desert.
I was (relatively) okay, when I realized I could ride on my wrist so it wasn’t broken. It didn’t make the corrugation any less painful though. I could have easily used the wrist and unsettling nature of the fall as an excuse to get on the truck, but actively chose not to. This trip is about pushing through obstacles and overcoming hardship. Anyone who doesn’t get that and isn’t willing to feel uncomfortable sometimes is only cheating him or herself of personal growth. When you fall in life, you chicken dance for a bit, and then you get back up and keep going. Don’t stop and miss the next breathtaking horizon.
Speaking of uncomfortable, it is now very cold at night, in the mornings and sometimes throughout the day on this trip. I like the riding as it reminds me of autumn at home. I do not like my broken sleeping bag zipper at night though! Our final days in Namibia included two mando days, some surprise pavement, milkshakes, grilled cheese lunches, bonfires and of course, Fish River Canyon. Fish River Canyon is as spectacular as it sounds, definitely rivaling the Grand Canyon but significantly less frequented. Our ride out of the canyon and into Felix Unite delivered unreal views, tough climbs, huge descents and monster headwinds over an arduous 173k into our final rest day at Felix Unite, right on the border with our final country. It was one of the toughest days of the Tour for me, which in my mind was the perfect end to Namibia.