Day 77, stage 59, 135km
Start, Chitimba Beach, Hakuna Matata Camp
A miserable day. It had rained most of the night and was still raining as we packed up and headed over to Chitimba to rejoin the Group. We huddled under what cover we could, ate a little breakfast and tried to find the motivation to get on our bikes. My guts were also roiling. Things had loosened the day before and I was up in the night. It was my turn. Chitimba tummy. But after one last trip to the ablutions block the inevitable could not be avoided.
It was cold; it was dark; it was wet. And as if this were not enough, the day started with a 26km individual time trial. Bob headed off and I started a couple of minutes later. After about 15km of gentle climb we turned and headed up the steep switchbacks of the hills surrounding Lake Malawi. We had to get up and over these hills to head towards Lilongwe. It was a 10km uninterrupted climb with grades reaching 12%. You can’t have much more fun in the rain. Bob did it in 1h37m and placed well. I did it in 1h47m, not too bad given the fact that I am not a great hill climber. The rest of the day was a real slog for me. I wasn’t feeling well. My head wasn’t in it. I was flat.
I usually divert my mind from the pain that sometimes accompanies a difficult ride by doing endless calculations in my mind and giving myself small achievable goals. Today my mind would have none of this. It got into this dreadful loop – ‘you are not having fun; you are not feeling good, I will not do your silly calculations’ and on and on, over and over. Fortunately it stayed in the loop and didn’t slide into ‘so why are you doing this anyway? Get off your bike! Get in the truck!’ I got into Mzuzu. Very late. I found the toilet block. I took in lots of fluids. I tried to eat a little. I set up and crawled into my tent. It rained again. All in all, a lovely day on Tour.