Day 26, Stage 20, 86km (plus 7km)
Start – two mountains camp
Finish – hilltop camp
Everybody was pretty beat up from yesterday and we had another tough off-road day in front of us. It was more a ‘cracked earth’ day than a ‘washboard’ day, with lots of gravel and sand thrown in. After getting lost and doing a bunch of extra km yesterday I felt pretty beat up. I left early and travelled slowly.
By the end of yesterday, with all the pounding, the ulnar nerve numbness in my right hand and arm had really flared up. My left arm and hand were also numb. I had little strength in my hands. Gripping buckles, snaps and zips to set up my tent was almost beyond me. But I could still grip the handle bars. I was trying to hold them as lightly as possible, just guide the bike, not wrestle it. But without shocks this didn’t make much difference. So I strapped in and set off.
It was a very hot day. I wasn’t the only one taking it easy. Although many of us rode alone today, several others were always within sight. It was really a clear the head, don’t think about it and keep the crank turning kind of day. It was also a take plenty of fluids kind of day. By the end of the day I had taken in at least 11 litres of fluid – probably 7 or 8 during the ride and another 3 or 4 after arrival at camp. Arrival at camp however was once again delayed. I stayed on track all day until the last bit of marker tape that identified the final track into camp. I was tired, had my head down and missed it. About 3 or 4 km later I found myself in the middle of a cattle market, well past the mileage I should have to reach camp. So for the second day in a row I swallowed my pride and got out my phone. This time all I had to do was back track a few kilometres to the marker and head into camp. One other guy wasn’t so lucky. He got so lost he had to be hunted down and picked up in one of the trucks. He didn’t arrive in camp until after dark.
Over the last few days people had been dropping by flies. Today half a dozen were felled by heat exhaustion and required treatment. One guy was put on a drip.
But I made it, had two donkey showers – because it was the best way to cool down – and then wandered into the nearby village with Vince for some well-earned cold drinks. Tarmac tomorrow.