Zambia was one of the most pleasant countries to cycle through that we have been to. The less exploited east of the country from Lilongwe to Lusaka gave way to a much more economically active area from Lusaka to Livingstone. The farming was more intensive; there is industry; there are larger and obviously more affluent towns; and there is a sense of tidiness about the route that almost makes you think of middle income countries rather than the ingrained poverty of Africa. In this southwest part of Zambia there is also clear evidence of inward investment from South Africa and from displaced white Zimbabweans – the farming operations, the tidy towns, the South African franchises and shops. There are schools with glass in the windows and kids in the classrooms. There is commerce, money in circulation and people buying in the shops. And the selection in the shops is wider and more upscale. The only letdown for me was the segregated tourist exploitation of Livingstone. I felt more objectified and commoditized than welcomed in Livingstone.
The bike has been fine. I had no trouble with it at all in Zambia. A little cleaning and oiling now and then was all that it needed. But the day we left for Botswana I did change the disk brake rotor on my front wheel. The rotor has become quite scratched and a bit pitted during the wet, off-road stages in Tanzania and had been making fluttering noises when I braked. Bob had brought a spare rotor for the same size and type of brake so I replaced the old rotor with his spare. That was it. Ready to go.
After my few days of sloppy guts in Malawi I was back to normal. But now that Bob had some miles in his legs he was picking up the pace. I usually cycled with him for a fair bit everyday before I dropped and he picked up the pace. This meant that for anywhere form 50 to 150km on any given day I was moving at a quicker pace than I had been over the last couple of months. I think pushing like this improved my fitness some more – I certainly felt I was moving up the hills much, much better – but it also meant my legs were more prone to being a little tighter in the mornings. When I cycled more within myself at a very comfortable pace and didn’t push or extend myself too much, my legs were happy and didn’t complain very much. They started to complain a bit more now but not outrageously. They were a bit tighter in the mornings and took a little longer to warm up.
The head is starting to think about what next. A month to go and then re-entry. If I think too much about re-entry I lose the feel and rhythm of each different day on the bike. So I don’ t make plans or decisions but I do play with scenarios. It’s better than doing endless calculations of speed and distance I suppose.