Day 29: into the mountains
We headed out from our semi-formal bush camp at Dam View Chalets around 8am in the howling wind. About 20 minutes into our ride we saw a palmnut vulture, a rare bird that's localised to Southern Mozambique but is sometimes seen at various places around Africa, a great sighting. Derrick has had a continual cough for the last 3 days and hasn't been feeling good on the bike, and at about 40km into the day, he decided to retire for he day, putting his bike onto the back of the jeep. It's a really shitty choice to have to make, to stop riding, but I think the right decision. Today at about 55km the first of the serious mountains on our ride greeted us with a pleasant "Welcome to Zambia, fuck you very much". The first decent climb of the day was almost 10km long in two stages: the first, known as 'the highest, steepest and hottest mountain road in the world ever', and the second, 'steeper than the first'. Our speed dropped from around 20km / hour to around 7km / hour as the steep hill started and except for around 400 meters in the middle of the hill never got much quicker than that. There were about three more decent climbs in our 110km day, before we cycled into Bridge Camp on the banks of the Luwanga River. Bryan had driven back to Lusaka to fix a light on the trailer so we arrived with one support vehicle but all our clothes and camping equipment still en route to us. So, we spent a few hours swimming in the pool on the balcony, drinking .... yup, more beers. I am actually involved in a personal experiment: to see if I do 6 hours of cardio per day for 10 weeks if it's possible to put on weight. In week four the results are looking positively conclusive. A highlight from today: while riding through a remote cluster of huts built alongside the road we rung our bells, waved and offered our, now normal, greeting, "how you?!" As a local woman waved at us, the less than a year old baby wrapped on her back, mimicked her mothers movements and also waved at us while looking directly at me, it was amazing.