Screaming at sand.
Within half a kilometre of leaving the village I was back to frolicking in the sand pit. Things got no easier, if anything the sand and rubble got deeper and the undulations steeper.
I was still weak from illness and this was draining my energy reserves. Sometimes I would ride for a few metres just to check I remembered how to do it. But otherwise it was a matter of pushing the bike up steep rubble climbs then pulling it back from equally steep descents. I’d fall fairly often as my weak feet slip from beneath me and lie in the golden sand, taking a second to rest and shout at the sky.
At times I was going so slow my speedometer went to sleep.
Many hours of amateur dramatics followed. Screaming at the ground, at my bike, at bushes, the sky, at the horrible world that surrounded me. For anyone watching it would have been a remarkable sight.
By lunch I’d amassed 23 kilometres in 7 hours. Not enough.
After anger came acceptance, and in the afternoon i’d often get lost in thought and enjoy the solitude.
I knew this was coming so there was no surprise. But the relentlessness starts to eat away, the huge effort for such little reward.
By 5pm I had finally reached 50 km.
Into the evening some small signs of black bitumen appeared intermittently and the sand broke up in places so I could spend longer times actually riding. I knew when i reached Kalewa the road would finally improve, so i just had to stick with it.
The landscape was beautiful in the evening sun. Each line of mountains a different shade of purple, with hay stacks and mud huts sprayed in a deep red as the sun retreats. When you are not staring into the sand pit, this is a truly stunning corner of the world.
As darkness fell I didn’t have enough light to clearly see the breaks in the surface and began hitting huge, sharp potholes all too regularly. But It was cooler and i was starting to speeding up on the improving roads so tried to make hay while the sun hid, with all available lights attached to bike, forehead, and two in my mouth, i pushed on.
As 10pm came I was delighted to find a small food shack for lorry drivers. I flopped onto a seat and enjoyed a warm sprite and some Super Noodles.
The man in charge found out I was English and proudly showed me his Chelsea FC poster, before running through all the players he knew. As if today hadn’t been challenging enough, I now had to pretend to be a Chelsea fan.
Belly full, I found a corner of the room and fell asleep.
Moments before passing out.
Truck stop hotel.