The African Adventure, Stages 57 to 62, Mbeya to Lilongwe

Mbeya to Lilongwe
Stages 57 to 62, about 750km, 6277m climbing and all on paved roads !
The road out of Mbeya is all up hill, we knew this as just looking around Mbeya you can see that your in a punch bowl ! We knew it would be a tough day, over 1000m to climb and in humid conditions. I was determined to cycle so I took plenty of painkillers and joined my fellow riders. It became obvious to me that the pain in my ribs and shoulder would not be dulled by mere ibuprofen and I spent most of the day riding with one arm, not an easy task on the uphill sections but as I say I was determined.
I finally made lunch and took more painkillers, this time from Luke the medic, much better than ibuprofen πŸ˜‰ I filled my water bottles after my lunch and headed of towards the Malawian border another 35km away, the scenery was still fabulous as it had been all morning and the ride was a pleasure. My ribs and shoulder were feeling better with the new painkillers and I arrived to perhaps the swiftest border crossing yet. A small form and $50 and it was all over, I changed some cash and set off for camp. I have to say that the last section to camp was flat and boring, I was glad to make camp and even happier to get a room, as was Naomi when she arrived.
Camp was by lake Malawi and yes there was a bar, it was Ali Costa’s birthday so the bar was full and we had a great evening although many of us were still in bed by 8.00 πŸ˜‰
The following day we followed the lake to a resort called Lake Chitimba, 90km on flat boring roads with a head wind, not a great day but it was a great camp and another rest day. More good food, more relaxing, more laundry, more beer but alas no Wi Fi !! We all said that we could easily have stayed at lake Chitimba especially if we’d got a room, it was a very nice place to be.
The next stage was also a tough day, 135km, 1700m climbing, we’d arrive in Mzuzu !
We left camp in some of the wettest weather of the trip so far and after 16km we started the climb, it seemed to go up for ever but in fact was only about 10km. From the camp to the summit was also an individual time trial, not that I was taking this seriously, I was with Bas and Thijs and we were quite happy taking photos and mucking about πŸ˜‰
After the summit we enjoyed a brief downhill before settling into rolling hills and a head wind, by this time I had the pleasure of cycling with John Faulkner and we coasted into lunch together although I left before him and cycled the rest of the way on my own.
I arrived in Mzuzu to find Naomi had taken the lunch truck and cycled a half day, bless her she sorted a room, it was only 1.30 so I’d got most of the afternoon to chill and relax πŸ˜‰ I needed the rest as my ribs and shoulder were still hurting, I proper bed is always appreciated at this point !
The next morning saw more foul weather as I set of for Luviri, another tough day with 124km and nearly 2000m of climbing, and the weather wasn’t helping either. By the time I got to lunch I was spent, my ribs and shoulder hurt and I was cold, so cold that I was shivering. I stopped for a long time to refuel but couldn’t shake the chill and in the end I took the lunch truck to camp !!
Camp was on another soccer field, we’ve had a few of these camps as its generally the only space big enough for us all to camp πŸ˜‰
I didn’t feel much better in the morning despite a reasonable nights sleep, I took the lunch truck and started the next day from there.
Destination the Kasunga Lodge, 107km away and about 500m of climbing, lunch was at 61km so I only had 46km to cycle. I set of and would you believe it but the racers swept past me at about the 100km mark and beat me to camp. I had a 61km start and they still beat me, incredible !!
Naomi had also set out her stall this day, she was on a charge and raced straight through lunch trying to gain a stage win as the fastest girl. She arrived in about 4hrs 10mins, very impressive but when she arrived another female cyclist called Suzanne had already arrived, now it would depend on how long it took them, only Kat the race organiser had the answer. We found out at the rider meeting that Suzanne had beaten Naomi by 24seconds, although disappointed I was very proud of her when she sort out Suzanne and congratulated her on the win, she was genuinely pleased for her πŸ˜‰
After another good rest and more painkillers from Luke I was ready for the next stage, the 130km with 1000m of climbing that would see us arrive in Lilongwe and two rest days πŸ˜‰
Naomi was still tired after her efforts the pevious day, she would take the bus to lunch while Gus, Eerin, Inge and myself set off into the headwind. It was slow going to lunch but we were cheered on by large numbers of kids lining the route, they were mostly cheering us although occasionally you’d here shouts of “money”, we ignored these shouts and enjoyed the cheers instead !!
Arriving at lunch we discovered that Naomi had gone on the dinner truck and would see us at camp. I left lunch with Sandy and Trish and enjoyed there company for the 50 or so km until camp, we battled the hills and headwinds and shared the work until finally the downhill into Lilongwe and the Mabuya Camp.
Arriving at the camp I found Naomi stretched out in the sun enjoying the warmth and a soda. I grabbed a beer and quickly joined her while we waited for Gus, Eerin and Inge to arrive. We had rooms booked for Gus, Naomi and myself and therefore would share a taxi to the hotel.
The hotel although very nice was chosen as it boasted Wi Fi, sadly although it does have Wi Fi it is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, also breakfast fits neatly into the same definition. Complaining about such things just gets a shrug and it’s to late to do much about it…..frustrated now !!!
The two rest days are spent as most are, laundry, bike maintenance and then it would be blogs, Facebook, emails etc and most important of all FOOD !!
We eat, oh boy do we eat, we eat places empty, Chitimba beach ran out of food and we were only there for a day !! We all eat so much but we need it and if its not proper meals then its soda, crisps, peanuts, biscuits, chocolate…..anything we can get our hands on !! 6000 calories a day on average and most people are still losing weight !!
So were rested, fed, jobs all done, bikes ready for the next stage !!
I guess we’ll find out how tough that will be at tomorrow mornings rider meeting, rumour has it that the shortest day is 150km and most are over 170km….gulp !!
Oh well if it was easy everyone would want to do it, I only hope I’m ready and able myself πŸ˜‰

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About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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One Response to The African Adventure, Stages 57 to 62, Mbeya to Lilongwe

  1. Sarah says:

    Hope you are now fully repaired!! Ooh sounds like my kind of diet….although I guess I should probably be doing a lot more exercise…damn that’s why I don’t get slimmer! You are still living the dream… Great work guys keep it up! Take care of each other and most importantly enjoy xx

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