Sunday, 9 May 2010

I CAN SEE SOUTH AFRICA...

I can see it! From my chalet I can see South Africa, on the other side of the mighty Orange river….

This time we are now closing in big time to the end of this fabulous adventure… We finally finished the 1000 km dirt section between Windhoek and the Felix Unite camp nested in a magnificent spot along the Orange river on the Namibian side. The Orange river marks the border and we will have to wait another day to cross as we have our last rest day of the tour here at Felix Unite camp. A great place, serving delicious T-bones in the most scenic restaurant overlooking the Orange river gorge.
After spending 9 days crossing the Namibian desert, without any contacts to the world (even cell phones did not work in most places) it is nice to watch South African rugby on a flat screen TV while downing Gin and Tonics at the bar next to the pool… This really feels like a rest day. The vibe is kind of different today from previous rest days. I suppose each one of us realizes by now that this is the end of something you get to live only once in your life and last night as most of us were getting drunk at the bar, we all got very philosophical, talking about our lives and our future projects. There were a few exceptions though, like Rick who got philosophical by stripping and jumping into the pool…
Even the air feels different, it has a cool and slightly humid feel to it just like a European late summer morning while a gentle breeze adds to the melancholic vibe. TDA 2010 is now 6 days from its end and about to enter country number 10, South Africa. Only 800 km are separating us from Cape Town. Last night people were already making phone calls for return flights to their home countries and finalizing travel arrangements in Cape Town. An atmosphere of wrapping up things hangs around camp… Nobody is unhappy about that, as we are all either tired, exhausted or seriously missing families friends and simply home…
It feels a bit like a hangover of adrenaline has already kicked in. It is going to take a while to get back into a normal life again, but I am looking forward not to have to get on my saddle for a while. (and so is my bud). I am also looking forward not to have to live on one bag and having to pack and unpack it each day… The idea to have access to a choice of more than one T- shirt and onepair of trousers to wear is something even I, look forward to as well.
OK, let´s not get carried away here, I still have 800 km to ride to reach my goal, arrive in Cape Town EFI and have ridden “Every Fucking Inch” between Cairo and Cape Town. If nothing goes madly wrong 12 of us will have achieved this. There are no more major difficulties except head winds that can be ferocious in this part of the world. So we will ride in pelotons if that is the case.
Namibia has offered us some of the most fantastic rides of this tour. It has come exactly at the right time as well. The long solitary stretches of riding I have enjoyed here have given me plenty of time to reflect about this adventure, about myself, about life in general. It has been a relief to my soul after the busy sections like Ethiopia and Malawi to be able to spend hours alone without seeing a single human being without the disturbance of any sound. I feel relaxed and recharged after Namibia, despite the hard riding on the dirt. It is amazing how much being mentally relaxed can help your general physical performance. One of the many things this trip has taught me, it is the incredible interaction between your mental well being and your physical aptitude.
South Africa is my second home as I have lived here almost 10 years and I am looking forward to cross the border. The small isolated town of Springbok will be our first stop there. Having no more computer has made the updating of this blog a bit challenging, but I will try to keep you guys posted as we head south!


                                In the middle of the Namibian desert, I came across this farm plate
                                address which also happens to be my race number… 113…
                                Some of the riding here can feel a bit long with endless stretches
                               of straight dirt roads under intense heat and wind
                                  Namibia is full of surprises. In the middle of the desert, we found
                                  this amazing road house which served the best cheese cakes
                                  I have had in a long time. What a cool place!
                                               Inside the road house, a really cool deco as well

                                  The Fish River Canyon is the second biggest in the world after
                                  the Grand Canyon. It is 160 km long. What a site!
                                              You feel very small at the edge of the canyon…
                                On the road again for another monster day…. 176 km today, but
                                the target is exiting, tonight be will be at the South African border!
                                                          Gabriele is back in pink fashion
                           Namibian vegetation is so different from any other place we have crossed
                                   You feel very small when you ride alone on these beautiful but
                                    endless Namibian dirt roads
                                    We did a fair bit of climbing in this last mando day of the tour,
                                     but what a nice ride!
                               Marcel having yet another puncture, I told him that this could be his
                               last one of the tour, so I decided to document it…
                                                        The restaurant at Felix Unite
                                       The chalets at Felix Unite are facing the Orange river.
                                       On the other side….South Africa! But we will have to
                                       wait another day to get there as we will have a
                                       (well deserved) rest day in Felix Unite camp site

                                            For the ultimate time, we are changing our tires.
                                            The last 800 km are almost all on tarred, so we
                                            switch back to slicks… here, David, Laura and
                                            Gabriele at work

4 comments:

yaluna said...

Hi Gerald,
It's been fantastic reading about your great adventure! And even I, sitting here in my comfy room feel sad that it's now coming to its end.. checking your blog for updates and discussing your latest stories has become a habit, a very pleasant habit. I'll be missing it...
Yaluna from Pittsburgh, USA

Achmed Giesler said...

Hi Gerald
Thank you for taking the trouble with your regular updates and pictures throughout the adventure. Hope to meet you guys when you arrive in Cape Town.
Good luck with maintaining your EFI status, may the wind be from behind, no punctures to worry about and the road easy. Not too many hills left to Cape Town!
Achmed Giesler, Cape Town.

Anonymous said...

C’est la dernière ligne droite de votre périple, c’était avec grand plaisir que j’ai suivi vos aventures sur ce blog qui va certainement me manquer, tous les internautes qui vous ont lu au cours de ces 4 mois ont partagé vos émotions, vos souffrances et vos joies.
J’admire votre courage et votre pugnacité tout au long de cette course, ce sera certainement difficile de revenir à une vie normale après 4 mois aussi intenses.
Profitez encore bien de la coupe du monde en Afrique du Sud et si c’est possible rapportez nous la coupe en France !
Francis Hoffmann

tonton GERARD said...

hello mon neveu!
RESPECT SIR GERALD!
Tu as vraiment mérité cette appellation! La famille peut être fière de toi! Tu as su gagner ton défi. Quelle leçon de courage et d'humanisme tu nous as donnée tout au long de cette aventure!
Merci des merveilleuses photos attendues chaque jour sur l'ordinateur et aux récits qui m'ont permis de progresser en anglais!!
Tu as su passionner des milliers d'internautes du monde entier et tu as su mobiliser pour que l'on puisse offrir un peu de nous mêmes
à des associations en manque de moyens de communication (130 vélos rien que de ta part je crois)
BRAVO et profite bien de tes dernières heures de selle (qui pourtant t'a bien fait souffrir!....)
Une grosse bise de nous deux
"TONTON"GERARD et DENISE