19/03/21, stage 44, Soccer Field Camp to another Soccer Field Camp

Another day on the dirt road today! 128k, so a little further and with a little bit more climbing compared to yesterday. However the dirt keeps your mind from counting kilometers or from suffering on the climbs. You just need your full attention staying upright and chosing the right line on the road with the best surface to ride one.

I chose to ride a bit faster today than yesterday. I figured it would be nice to have a quiet afternoon in camp. So I set of after breakfast and overtook many of the riders that had left a bit earlier. After 30k I found Baldr and Fred along the road having coffee, so I stopped and joined them. While there, we had a nice conversation with a local about the wild animals in the area. Apparantly we are currently cycling through an area that has it all. Lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, cobras, black mambas. According to TDA staff they tend to stay away from the road though, avoiding any interactions with people…
After the coffee we all went our own way at out own pace and I caught up with Baldr and Fred again at lunch. Riding in the morning was just great. We’re in the middle of Africa, crossing the Tanzanian jungle, on a dirt road, and there is bearly anything here! Hardly any villages, hardly any people, hardly any traffic… Nobody goes here, because there is nothing here!
Some 10k after lunch I came accros Baldr again. He sat on the side on the side of the road, accompanied by Daan, one of the sectional riders that joined us in Nairobi. It was a bit of a weird sight, so I asked if everything was oke. Baldr pointed to his knee and said he had a fall and had a bad cut and that he was now waiting for the medic. Daan and Fred had already patched him up quite well with the use of their own first aid kits and now Fred – due to lack of any cell phone reception – had hitched a ride on a motorbike to notify staff back at lunch.
There wasn’t really anything I could do, but despite that I decided to stick around, mainly because Baldr has been helping me out during the tour quite a lot. It felt wrong to just take off. So we chatted a bit, untill at some point the dinner truck came past and sorted Baldr out and took him and his bike on board. After that we had to wait for Fred to return on the motorbike, because his bike was still with us.
After Fred returned we took off again. Each at our own pace. However, the thing is that everytime somebody has a bad fall with his or here bike, it gets between your ears. Even if you did not see the accident. What we’re doing is not a walk in the park. Falling of your bike is a serious risk. Especially at roads like today’s, on which everybody could have taken a fall. But these kind of roads need to be ridden with confidence as well. Instead, Baldr’s fall made me feel a bit wobbly on my bike. 
To make things even worse, we hit a 10k stretch of mainly loose sand, which made riding very tough. We had about 40k left to camp and beforehand we had no clue how long this sandy stretch would last. To make things even worse I got a flat right against the end of this stretch. And while I was fixing it I was eaten alive by tsetse flies. Luckily I got some help from one of the other riders. And not much later the lunch truck pulled up to ask if we needed any help. 
So there I was, on a bad road, on which I hardly made any progress, of which I did not know how long it would still last,  of which I knew that it posed a serious risk of falling and injuring myself, in the hot and humid jungle, while fixing a flat, while being eaten by very annoying and persistent bugs, while being offered a ride on a comfortable airconditioned four wheel drive vehicle… And still I decided to continue my ride 🙂 I don’t expect anybody to understand why 🙂 
We made it to camp around 430. I passed my 5000k mark. Baldr is doing well and he will be back on his bike within a few days. Today was a tough day, but it was a fun and challenging day as well. We all still feel very fortunate and priviliged to be here, doing what we do! I didn’t have a quiet afternoon at camp though…

Early morning on a dirt road…

Having coffee with a local who spoke English pretty well, even though we are this remote…

Look at this! And it goes on for kilometers and kilometers…

Some farm fields here and there…

Including the accompanying farm…

But mainly this…

Just look at the colors!

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