Day 90, stage 69, 182km
Start, football field camp
Finish, Ruze Chalets
The longest day so far had been 176km. Today was 182km – not much further, not enough to notice really, only another 6km. But we had gradually been increasing our daily distance.
Today was all uphill – only about 900 metres, not a lot, about 5 metres per kilometer, but the ride was steadily, if gently, uphill all day, no real respite. We did have a bit of a bonus though – a tail wind, not strong, but there. Fortunately our fitness has been building along with the distances we need to cover each day. Bob and I finished the 182km in about 7h40m – this included about an hour’s worth of lunch and coke stops, so about 6h40m in the saddle, that’s just over 27kmh on average. Good for me. I’m sure Bob could have gone faster. But we have been riding together for the most part for the last few days and he moderates his pace to match mine.
Camp today was at a place called the Ruze Chalets. It was in the middle of nowhere. And although it had chalets and shower rooms and a toilet block we could really have been camped in a football field again. There was no water in the showers or the toilet cisterns. But they did keep a couple of forty-five gallon drums full of water. So you could have a bucket bath and through a bucket of water down the toilet to flush it. But the Ruze Chalets did have one big plus – a bar with cheap beer. You could buy a beer in the bar for 5 kwacha. The same beer at the ShopRite supermarket in Choma cost over 6 kwacha. Something must have fallen off the back of a truck (to our benefit) or else ShopRite is making outrageous margins.
We had once again cycled through a large town about 40km from the end of our ride today. Bob and I – and several others – bought half litre tubs of ice cream and like gannets consumed them at double speed on the street outside the shop. It was not a pretty sight. I did a half litre in less than three minutes. Even so, I was like an old nag compared to some of the thoroughbreds in the group. Darragh wasn’t content with a half litre. He did a whole litre. He tried to justify this by saying he couldn’t find the half litre tubs. Yes, Darragh.
Once again early to bed. The rhythm takes over. You deviate at your peril.