The African Adventure, Stages 63 to 67, Lillongwe to Lusaka

Lilongwe to Lusaka, Stages 63 to 67
728km, 5 days riding, 5000m of climbing !!
So an average of 145km a day with some good climbs and thankfully all on paved roads !!
The first days destination was a place called Chipata and a great camp spot called Mama Rula’s Camp, we found out when we arrived that it had great showers, toilets, bar and swimming pool….perfect for the tired cyclist 😉
152km, 852m of climbing and a border crossing into Zambia, we all made sure we had passports, money and yellow fever documents before setting off !!
The directions were simple, pretty much a straight line south following a main road out of Lilongwe, a couple of turns before lunch at 80km added a little interest. A fairly large group formed behind the would be racers, no race today so they weren’t going full bore and I was able to hang on to the rear wheels and get dragged to lunch. We arrived in about 2.5 hrs, a quick stop saw me straight out and heading for the border at 122km !
Quiet roads and fairly minimal hills were spoilt slightly by a head wind but I still made good time to the border and had no trouble getting my visa into Zambia !
It’s amazing how the feel of a country changes the minute you get through the border, it’s only a line in the sand but it feels so different !
30km to Chipata on good roads and I was there by 12.45, I was happy to find the bar and swimming pool and used both !!
The evening saw the usual, rider meeting, dinner etc before an early night ready for the 176km ride to Petauke !!
176km is our longest ride day yet and with 1288m of climbs this would be a tough day. The route was dead straight and to be honest there wasn’t much to look at either. The only diversion would be the town of Katete about 12km after lunch, two of our group are raising money for a charity that has a base hear and we were all invited to stop and find our more. The charity is called Colalife and the charity make use of Coke Colas delivery network to piggy back medical supplies to poorer parts of Africa, such a great idea !
Once again I cycled hard and was at lunch, 80km, by 9.05….what I didn’t expect was to see the racers all sitting there still !
It turned out that there was a full blown riot in Katete, a young girl had been murdered a couple of weeks earlier and the locals weren’t happy with the way it had been investigated, don’t quote name on this as its just what we’ve heard !!
Anyway we weren’t allowed to cycle into Katete for at least two hours and by the time we were allowed to go we were one huge group with a police guard, shots were fired above the crowd to disperse them as we cycled up the Main Street, all very dramatic I’m sure but we were aching to get going !!
Finally after following the police for ages they pulled out of the way and we were once again under way, another 90km to go before camp at Chimwemwe Lodge in Petauke. I was fired up and raised my game, I was on my own again for most of the ride but still made camp at 3.10, ten minutes longer than I would have liked but it was a tough day.
Naomi had ridden the bus from lunch and had got us a room, so welcome, hot shower, proper bed and a bar with cold beer…not to many though as we’ve another 172km tomorrow !!
Destination Luanga and a place called Bridge Camp, 172km and 1350m of climbing, this is a mandatory race day, that means its tough so we were all ready for a long day !!
Lunch at 80km again means another 92km after lunch, seems the wrong way round to me, I’d rather have 80km after lunch and 92km before lunch..oh well !
I left early and on my own again, I quickly found a rhythm and with the great scenery keeping my mind occupied I soon arrived at lunch at 9.15. It was a tough morning but we still had a fair few hills to climb yet. As we neared the gorge and the Zambezi river I stopped to take photos of the river and bridge, Ali and Lizzie also stopped just behind me, I left before them for the descent onto the bridge and was over it before they’d got onto it, I asked the security if I could take photos and to my surprise they said yes. As Lizzie and Ali cycled over I managed to get some great shots of them with the bridge behind them ;/)
There was one last climb before a long descent down a duet road to the camp. Again the facilities were great, showers with hot water, toilets and a bar, although the beer was very expensive !!
Some of our group went on a boat trip to see crocodiles and hippos, we spotted them get out of the boat as it landed on Mozambique soil, naughty people, not a visa among them 😉
They arrived back tipsy but hadn’t seen a single croc or hippo, still at least they’d had some beers and enjoyed the ride 😉
Day four and this time 124km and 1631m of climbing, last year this was the mandatory day so again we knew it would be tough ! It started with the long slog back up the dirt road to get to the main road, the sun was just coming up when I left so some good shots of sunset over the river !!
Back on the main road we turned left and again for the next 124km it’s a straight line south !!
A long climb came almost immediately and I settled in for a hard day, the scenery was not so good as we were in the trees now and the views were not so good , still lunch is only 62km away so I set myself a goal of 9.30, a challenge with all the hills. I made my target with less than a minute to spare, I found out that Naomi has left from lunch with a few others, this gave me something to chase so I had a quick lunch, filled my bottles and went after them.
After two hours of hard graft I saw them but my bottles were empty, just then Ciaran came by in the Hilux, I flagged him down and filled up, he said I only had 44km to go. The chase was on and in about 10km I’d passed them only to stop at the next coke stop 😉 as they came in I was just leaving, they said there was only 30km left, I wanted to make it in an hour but failed, 1hr 10mins was the best I could do !
A school playing field was our camp spot, no showered but at least there were toilets even if they were primitive !!
It’s almost like a day off, 104km and only 850m of climbing, I don’t think the racers even stooped for lunch, they were done in about 2hrs 45mins !!
I was slightly slower although I was at lunch by 8.40 and away by 9.00. It was a great ride, made even better by the knowledge that the next day was a day off !!
I made camp by 10.40, I pulled out my wet tent to dry and went in search of a cold beer before sitting by the pool with my feet in the cool water !!
Naomi arrived about lunch time and she’d arranged with a friend of hers in Lusaka that we’d meet them at a hotel and go back to there’s for dinner. Now Kevin and Sylvie were leaving us and a few of us went to see them off at the Rhapsody Bay at the shopping mall, they finally arrived as we were leaving, the hotel was across the road !!
Our hosts were Duncan and Jill and there daughter Emily, Jill’s sister Alison was also there so it made a good group, the food was good and plentiful as was the beer. The best bit was being able to use the washing machine and the Wi Fi though 😉
We left them at lunch the following day, bags full of clean washing and over 500 photos uploaded to Facebook, I was happy but hungry, we ended up in a fish and chip restaurant. We each had a family platter with extra chips and a beer each, what a pair of pigs, but it was so good.
The rest of the day was pretty much chill time, I had a massage which was very good and then it was time for bed. Another tough week looms large, more long days to come before Capetown !!

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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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