So now I must explain the duct tape across the windshield of my bike that is holding the plastic together. It happened during our 500 km + of dirt/sand off road riding in order to see the sand dunes of Soussesvlei, Namibia. For the most part the road was hard packed dirt that sometimes had small piles of gravel on it’s surface. The road also had piles of slippery sand across it that lasted anywhere from a meter to a kilometer and varied in depth from a few inches to a few feet. For the really deep sand I would slow down to first gear and paddle my bike with my feet to get across it. Back in Cape Town I had had Zimpeeway the cobbler add about 6 inches of rubber to the bottom of my riding boots so that now I can touch the ground better on my tall bike. The obvious sand patches were not a problem but I found that it was the sand patches that weren’t as deep that could really sneak up on you. During the first day of our dirt riding I was concentrating very hard on riding slow and careful. When I approached sand I made sure that I was going slow enough upon approach so that I could speed up in the sand to make my front tire skip over the sand and let my back tire with it’s thick, solid tread carry me through it. I was glad to make it to our campsite that night after 100km. On the second day with my confidence boosted from the success of day one, I decided to ride a bit faster. This is when I hit a sand patch and fished tailed four times before I landed on the ground. I cracked my windshield in half and ripped my pannier off the bike (the opposite one from my gravel fall back in Argentina– yay!). I wasn’t hurt, just surprised and Daryll and Pat came to my rescue with duct tape and a huge metal pole to straighten out the frame for my bike’s panniers. Days 3, 4 & 5 of this Namibia dirt adventure were uneventful as I watched out for sand, controlled my speed and stood up on my pegs almost the entire rest of the way! I looked well ahead in the distance while riding and when I arrived at any sand patches I took Pat’s advice and said convincingly to myself “I’ve already done this bit of sand!” which has successfully helped me ride it upright on two wheels:) For now our riding has turned back to tarmac but I am anticipating more dirt days to come.
After our stunning visit to Soussesvlei as per Daryll’s previous post, we rode on to the Atlantic Ocean at Swakomund – a German town in what feels like the middle of nowhere. This is the second largest city in Namibia and we were content to have internet access to catch up on emailing and our blogs. It was also Easter weekend so we indulged in some chocolate treats which would never have lasted in the desert due to the heat so we had to eat them all and quick! Upon arrival in Swakomund we noticed a dirty, fast flowing river about 100 meters across, draining into the ocean. Prior to the week before the “river bed” was a dry valley that hadn’t seen water in over 30 years! Due to the rains in the northern part of Namibia (the most in about 80 years apparently) there is a great deal of water flowing to the middle of the country and then out into the ocean. The ocean waves were brown with sand, dirt and sticks. Nobody ventured into the water.
Currently we are camping in Tsumeb – roughing it with our Olympic sized swimming pool, internet cafe, and full laundry facilities. We have again met up with our friend Tom who has healed his foot and is ready to ride with us again which we make us a pack of 6 on 5 bikes. Right now Daryll is doing an oil change on both the bikes and I periodically return to camp to dry out some of our stuff that got wet in the tent during last night’s thunderstorm. I keep having to chase frogs away from climbing under our tent as they are attracted to the cool, moist shade under there. So far the bugs haven’t been too bad but there are lots of them and so many different kinds - 6 inch grasshoppers and praying mantis’s, huge cockroach/spider things basking in the sunshine on the road (as per Daryll’s last post). We are starting to get into malaria areas so we have started taking our daily malaria pills as of yesterday. As for animals, so far we’ve seen a crocodile basking in the sunshine on the highway, baboons and springbok running across the roads, monkey’s swinging in the trees, herds of ostridge running through the fields, and two giraffes walking through a private game park along side the highway.