Day 75, stage 58, 92km
Start, Karonga, Summit Annex Guest House
Finish, Chitimba Beach, Hakuna Matata Camp
Today was supposed to be a short day – and flat – only 92km along the lake to a beach camp at Chatimba. It was a bit of a confused start. Malawi is 1 hr behind Tanzania. So we changed out watched and clocks. But then we were told that we would still follow the Tanzania schedule but using Malawi times. This meant we left an hour later than we usually did, so lots of milling around. Then I still needed to get a Malawi SIM card and to visit a bank to get some more money (worried about scammers I had only changed enough at the border for a couple of days). So after clocking in at the start I spent a half hour wandering around Karonga doing chores.
But finally we were on the road. Bob and I hooked up with Danish Claus and Kiwi Phil and set out in a peloton at a good clip – well over 30kmh. It was faster than I usually ride and went against my strategy of pacing but I felt good and Bob seemed to be going well. At about 35km Bob started to fall back a bit. I stayed with the peloton for a while but then noticed Bob was not making his way back to it. So I slowed down and at about 45km found a coke stop. I stopped, bought some cold cokes and waited for Bob. We took a rest and got some fluids in us.
Lunch was only another 15km so we set off again. It soon became clear that Bob suffering a bit. So I let him find a pace that suited and went off to lunch. At the lunch truck I got some ORS for him and waited for him to arrive. He was obviously tired when he got there. I asked the medic to have a look at him. I said I would head out and try to get to the next camp early – only another 35km to go – to try to get one of the available rooms at the camp. When you are exhausted, a room with a bed is so much better than a tent in the rain. So I blasted off and got to camp in good time – but not early enough. I got there just as the last room was given out.
But all was not lost. There was another camp next door called ‘Hakuna Matata’. I was the first person to go their. They only had two rooms so I quickly took one. Somebody else arrived and took the second room before I could go fetch my bags. We were good.
Bob finally arrived a couple of hours later. He had been dehydrated, lost his appetite and had trouble getting an ORS down. He had taken a nap in the medic’s truck at lunch and then set off and did the final 35km to camp. And it was not an easy 35 km as it turned out. About an hour after we left in the morning a strong head wind came up. It stayed with us for the rest of the day. The wind was strong enough to steal 8 or 9 kmh from you. So pedaling 92km actually used up as much energy as pedaling 130km without a headwind. A tough couple of days to start with.
Once in camp we made sure Bob took in more ORS and plenty of fluids. Nine of us had dinner in the beachfront bar at Hakuna Matata and were in bed by 8pm. Bob managed to eat some dinner. He had definitely earned a rest day.