tisdag, maj 01, 2007

Cycling in Zambia Part I – MTB

On Sunday I met up with the French guys for a nice morning MTB ride. It was me, Jean-Marc, Didier, Eric and Jean-Luc. We were supposed to take off at around 8hrs to beat the heat. The plan was to ride for about 2 hours so I had equipped myself accordingly, i.e. I only had one bottle of water and nothing to eat. Big mistake. We ended up riding for 3,5 hours and by the time we got back it was HOT.

The other guys all had really really nice full-suspension super-expensive mountain bikes. I had my borrowed hybrid Trek with full size wheels and no suspension. I knew it was going to be tough, but I had been promised a fairly simple route. They lied. Some of the riding was on decent dirt roads but other parts were through the forest on narrow single tracks. And some of it was just off road, or over corn fields as you can see in the picture.

I have never been much of a mountainbiker but this was something extra. It was so incredibly beautiful to ride through the Zambian bush, and yet Didier told me that this place was nothing compared to other places where they ride. I tried my best to keep up with the fit French crew but downhill I stood no chance. I had to take it easy, both because I was scared and had no suspension but also because I was on a borrowed bike. The guys were friendly enough to wait for me at the bottom of the hills – otherwise I would have been lost.

On the way back, poor Jean-Luc cut his hand on a sharp corn plant. It did not look too bad, although he was bleeding a lot. Luckily we had a doctor in the group who patched him up with a napkin and a plastic bag (see picture).

Five kilometers from town we hit tarmac again and god I was happy for that. My shoulders and hands were really hurting at that time. And after having been at the tail of the peloton for most of the day it was now my chance to pedal hard. I came back to town with a big grin on my face. What a wonderful ride.

Now I have a problem you see. When I come back in October I was planning on bringing my road bike. This has not changed but it would be real nice to ALSO have a mountain bike. Hmm, don’t know how to sort this out. Big problem.

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