Bikes collide

Day 89, stage 68, 158km

Start, Lusaka

Finish, football field camp

Mark got up and drove us back to the TdA camp around 5:15am. Still dark. Heroic. We packed our lockers, retrieved our bikes and sat down for the rider briefing at 5:45. We had three days cycling to Livingstone, not difficult days, but long days – 158, 182 and 152km, for a total of 492km in 3 days.

Bob and I left early to cycle through Lusaka. We had to cycle about 30km before we were clear of the city and commuter traffic. The traffic became increasingly busy as we cycled through town. The cars are trucks are not particularly sympathetic to cyclists. Cars do not wait for you to pass them before they overtake. Coming towards you they overtake as if you aren’t there and you have to cycle off the road. Cyclists are just as bad. And there are lots of them. They cycle down the wrong side of the road and right at you. It is a constant game of chicken. Will they veer left or right as they pass you?

Bob and I passed safely through this gauntlet but Jan Thygesen was not so lucky. I have cycled a fair bit with Jan over the last three months. He is a strong cyclist. He left shortly after Bob and I and didn’t win the chicken game. He collided at speed with a local cyclist. He dislocated his shoulder, broke his collar-bone, bruised his ribs and had a concussion. Sandi and Trish from Calgary were the first to pass him, followed shortly by Wayne. They stayed with him for over an hour and a half and made sure the medics arrived to help and that things got sorted. Jan was taken to a nearby hospital and the whole process of treatment and repatriation began. There are only four weeks left of the tour and his injuries would take longer than that to heal so he quickly took the decision to return home. At camp that night we had once again to watch a bike being disassembled and boxed and a locker being cleared and packed up so that they could be sent home to an injured rider.

Jan spent only a few of days in Lusaka. Mark and Tanya also came to the rescue. They went to see Jan at the hospital and helped him organize his departure and get to the airport and onto the plane. By the time we were at Livingstone and visiting Vic Falls Jan was back in Edmonton. Things change so quickly.

The ride today was quick. It was rolling hills but gradual with only two bigger, longer climbs. About 25 or 30 km from the end of the day’s ride we passed through a large town with a ShopRite supermarket. We stopped and stocked up on drinks, chocolate and ice cream. The further South we go the easier it is to find anything you want in shops that are not that different than those at home. The contrast between here and rural Sudan or Ethiopia is striking.

We arrived at our football field camp in good time and wandered off in search of cold drinks. A bout a kilometer down the road there was a sort of truck stop with a bar. Many of us ended up there for a cold beverage of choice and a lazy afternoon in the shade. The rhythm of the tour had become very comfortable and routine. I am sure it will feel strange to have to abandon this rhythm.

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