Day 100, stage 76, 160km
Start, Sedia Hotel, Maun
Finish, Bush camp
I rarely set out in the morning with a fixed plan of whom I will ride with. I usually leave fairly early and set off with whoever is starting around the same time. We will often ride at different paces and separate fairly soon. After ten or twenty km I often find myself with one or two others or a small group riding at a compatible pace and work with them until lunch. After lunch I repeat a similar process. Other people set off in the same or similar bunch every day – the racers do this, and the second peloton that clusters around Ali and Lizzie also do this. I have cycled with this group a few times but after a while I usually their pace is just that bit too quick for me and I drop off. This patter has changed a little since Bob arrived. We typically set off together, often riding together for quite a while, usually until Bob decides to stretch his legs a bit more and he takes off. Today we set off at a fairly good pace and at about 20km came up to the Ali and Lizzie bunch. We tagged on the end and joined the growing peloton. There were about 12 or 14 people in the peloton. The leads pulled for 5km and then peeled off. This was great. It meant you could work hard and pull for 5 and then draft for 30 or 35km. You can save a lot of energy that way and travel at a much faster pace.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in a large peloton, people lose concentration and wheels touch. Italo touched Bob’s back wheel and went down. A half dozen riders behind him also went down. It was a bit of a mess. Italo landed on his head, cracked his helmet and then skidded and lost a lot of skin. Alex B landed on top and got a deep wound above his left elbow. Stig, who had just returned to the Tour after breaking his collar bone ended up in the pile as well. Fortunately everybody was more or less ok. We cleaned and bandaged Italo and Alex at the roadside. Neither had concussion. Others had landed on top of people and had not broken skin. Alex did have to go back to the hospital in Maun however. His wound required internal as well as external stiches. He met us at camp that night though and was back on his bike the next day. Good powers of recovery for a 65 year old. Italo kept cycling after we patched him up. He is only 64 so didn’t need any time off.
After the crash we put the peloton back together and started off again. Bob and I stayed with to lunch and then, very much against patter, left with it after lunch and stayed with it to the end of the day. With the wind, it was a good day to ride in a bunch.
The only downside to the day is that my crank sounded and felt like an eggbeater all day. When I gave it to the mechanics for a tune on the rest day they had over cranked the bottom bracket and ruined it. So the first thing I did when I got into camp was give my bike to the other mechanic and get him to sort things out, which included putting on yet another new bottom bracket. This was my third on this trip so far. I hope it holds out.