Day 101, stage 77, 142km

Start, bush camp

Finish, something lodge Ganzi

The five days from Maun to Windhoek would see us ride more kilometres than any other five days on the Tour. We would do a total of 825km in those five days. Tomorrow will be the longest day on tour at 207km. So to give us a bit of a break today we would not race the whole day, instead we would only do a 40km team time trial. What this means is that we cycled about 30km to the start of the time trial in a more or less causal way because we were not on the clock. We would then do the time trial, have some lunch and then cycle the final 72km to camp also in a casual way.  That’s the theory anyway.

We put together a team of five called the KNIGHT RIDERS. It consisted of Bob and I and the three top women riders: Bridget, Lizzie and Rosie. This time trial was not a pure contest against the clock where the fastest team wins. It was a time trial with a twist. Each team had to set a target time for the 40km ride. They then had to hand over all watches and cycle computers and, without the aid of any data, set and ride at a pace to arrive at their target time. This gives teams who are note necessarily the fastest the incentive to compete. Otherwise we all know, after three and a half months, who the fastest people are and who will win.

We set a target time of 1h36m or 25kmh. there was still some headwind and we didn’t want to push too hard. We wanted to be steady. At the end of the day we didn’t do too badly. We came in at just over 1h32m and came in third. We would have done worse but we had to stop once for a Lizzie wee break. We figured that if we had stopped for one more wee break we could have won.

As we left camp that morning we still did not know where the camp would be that night.  The lodge they had used in years past had shut and they needed to sort something new out quickly. They had identified a couple of options and left early in the morning to sort things out. By lunch we had instruction about where to go. We were told to turn left a couple of km after Ghanzi and follow a dirt road for about 3km to a nice camp. After battling a fair bit of a head wind after lunch we rolled through Ghanzi and found the dirt road. Only it wasn’t a dirt road. It was deep sand. Easily manageable in a 4-wheel drive Hilux but not rideable on a bike – especially one with road, not off-road, tires on. We could do nothing but walk our bikes in. Needless to some very pissed off people arrived in camp after their 45 min walk. Getting to camp was one thing. Waling a bike through 3km of calf-aching, heel blistering, 6 inch deep sand before getting on your bike to ride 207km was not a prospect many appreciated. After several people talked to staff it was agreed that they would shuttle people and bikes to the tarmac in the morning and that the race would start from there. So we went to bed mollified if still anxious about the long day tomorrow. What would the wind do?

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