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19/04/29, stage 73, Solitaire to Sesriem

Today was the first day on the tour on which it really hit me that we are doing here is actually pretty insane. We had a 83k ride today, which on paper shouldn’t be too hard: distance not too long, mainly downhill… In reality it was very tough though. Heavily corrugated roads (wasbord), thick gravel, loose sand, high temperatures, all at the same time. It made progress very slow, at an average speed of about 17k an hour, making almost 5 hours of saddle time.

I took me two hours to reach the cokestop at 30k. I figured then that if roads would not improve after the cokestop, that I would hitch a ride from lunch at 44k. However roads did improve. At lunch I decided to continue and I brought the air pressure in my tires down to the minimum required pressure of just 1.8 bar, hoping that this would give me a bit more suspension, comfort and grip.
The 27k after lunch went pretty well! Lowering the tire pressure seemed to have worked and I just killed this horrible road. Until 12k before camp. Our route took a right turn and I hoped the road might become a bit better after the turn, especially because we were heading to a tourist town. However, instead of getting better, the road turned into utter and complete mush… I tried looking for the right line to ride on, but it just wasn’t there. Parts that were hard were just insanely corrugated. Parts that were not corrugated were very sandy…
To make things worse, I was running out of water. I had filled up my waterbottles at lunch, but it was so hot that I burned through 1,5 liters of water within those first 27k after lunch (meaning that although these k’s were not the hardest of the day, they were still pretty tough). I continued ploughing my way through the sand and looked out for our landcruiser, that normally runs up and down the road to provide us with aditional water. But no landcruiser today. And no water, in the desert, with these temperatures, with this kind of exercise, that’s a problem.
There were three suv’s comming up the road from the opposite direction. I got of my bike and tried to wave them down from a save distance, but they just kept going. Bastards. It pissed me off. I would never let somebody stand there like that. I got back on my bike, still looking for our landcruiser, but no landcruiser. I tried another suv. This time I just stood on the middle of the road, hoping that it would slow down. Luckily it did. Through the open window I appologized to the two tourists for bothering them, but explained that I was in need of water. They said not to worry about it and handed me a liter bottle. 
I thanked them and poored the water in my waterbottle and continued my way, still looking out for the landcruiser. But no landcruiser. And the road remained utter and complete shit. There were areas where it was easier to ride off the road, than on the road, just praying that I wouldn’t get a flat. Some 3k before the end of the stretch I signalled down another suv and I received another liter of water, which allowed me to make it to camp. Still no landcruiser…
I made it to camp as one of the first riders, but I was really very pissed. I’m glad that I know how to take care of myself, but the whole idea of coming onto an organised tour was that there would be people around that would take care of me. And sending me onto a shitty road, through the desert, with no water, that’s just dangerous. And that’s exactly what I told the first staff member I came accross. 
The initial reply was a bit indifferent and also a bit surprised, because apparantly Steph the assistant tour leader should be out and about doing water refills. So I should have seen her, although I was pretty sure that I didn’t. While I drank some more water they tried to contact the landcruiser. It turned out that on the way from lunch to camp, the landcruiser had gotten a flat and was stuck somewhere along the road. Based on that info and not knowing how many people were on the road between the broken landcruiser and camp, they broke up the canopies of the big truck and decided to do refills with the big truck.
While they were gone, Baldr, Fred and me arranged rooms at the Namib Dunes Wildlife resort. A great place with very nice rooms, overlooking the national park with it’s world famous dune sea, the highest dunes in the world. That’s why we came to Sesriem 🙂 And in the evening Baldr, Fred and me went to dune 45, to climb it and to see the sun set over the desert, which was pretty amazing.
So a big day today, with big contrasts. An insane day. From riding a shitty road through the desert in search of water, to fancy hotel rooms, amazing views and a nice diner. These are the days I’ll never forget 🙂

First rays of sun over our road this morning…

Long shadows in the morning sun…

Beautifull light, showing the poor state of the roads we’re riding…

But the landscapes are worth it…

Tim ploughing his way through the sand…

However Baldr, Fred and me had a nice lodge waiting for us at the end of it all…

And in the afternoon we took a car to go and see the dunes…

Beautifull tarmac road here.

At the foot of dune 45

Beautifull color and patterns!

And textures..

And views…

We made it all the way to the top. Apparantly most tourists stop half way 🙂 Best thing about this was that we got to experience the unspoiled edge of the dune!

Baldr making his way to the top…

Just wow…

And then sunset…

The best thing is that I was still able to climb this thing after a hard day of riding! 

Beautifull day!

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