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by SS at 7:44 am on Friday 12th February

The last three days of riding have been quite tough, so tough in fact that I've been putting off writing an update each evening. Tonight though, I wrote a piece for the TDA blog so I'll fulfil my journalistic obligations while I have my writing hat on.

We've had two days of roughly 160km each and then 135km today, of which 85km was off-road (our first encounter with the unpaved). The first day started out slowly, as they usually do after a rest day. Having 30 riders load their kit onto a truck at 6am is never going to be the smoothest operation, especially when it's *all* their bags. I'll probably go into the locker situation more later but they're a necessary pain.

After waiting for ages to load my bags, eating breakfast and then realising I was late, I signed out and rushed to the toilet before I actually left.Not even 30 metres after I turned out of camp, the cable came off my front derailleur (also known as the thing that changes gears at the front) and I spent 10 minutes wrestling with it so that I could use my big chainring. Soon after this, my poor navigational sense led me to take a wrong turn (out of the four turns we had that day, this was the third and barely a kilometre out of camp). Double checking the directions, I turned back and was very relieved when the dinner truck drove past about 15 minutes later.

Eager to make up time, and as part of my new found speed (having almost recovered from my cold and saddle sores), I spent most of the morning cycling as fast as I could with the tailwind and caught up to the bulk of the group just as they reached lunch. I left lunch pretty quickly and caught up with an even faster group. It didn't seem like they were going fast enough though and I thought it'd be possible to overtake them. The law of the universe soon kicked in though (karma dontcha know) and within a minute of overtaking, my front gear shifter fell off my handlebars and I had to pull over.

Luckily no real damage was done but in order to tighten it and the cable up properly, it was necessary to replace the cable. Chris, the trip's bike mechanic sorted this out and it now shifts beautifully. He needed to adjust quite a few parts of the derailleur, something which I wish the mechanics at Cycleopedia in Watford had picked up - I'll be looking for a new bike shop when I get back home.

The traffic was really quite fierce that day and unfortunately there were a few accidents amongst the riders. I won't go into full detail but several helmets were cracked! The heavy traffic also caused several riders to actually cycle past camp and a couple of guys (both British in fact) cycled an extra 30-40km.

That evening, whilst being wary of the scorpions that supposedly shared our campsite with us, the staff awarded plates to the winners of the first section. I was happy to receive a special 'Bad Ass' award plate because of my efforts to continue cycling! It'll be going with the rest of my race plate collection at home.

The second 160km day was tiring too, although the road condition improved later in the day. In the morning I was overtaken by the lunch truck and managed to keep pace with it for some time as it slowed down for potholes. In my eagerness to keep up, I rode straight into a pothole and survived - my bottle decided to jump out of it's cage and explode on the road, leaving a mess of red energy drink.

I was caught in the afternoon by the second fastest group of riders, just as I was about to pull over and take a leak. I decided that this was too much of an efficiency advantage to let pass so I joined them for some time. Unfortunately there was no opportunity for relieving myself for the next hour - we picked up a police escort which took us through a crowded roundabout and town where people were out cheering, clapping and waving to us as we cycled through.

This was amazing and for the first time in my life, I felt like some kind of celebrity. Kids were going crazy and at one point ran into the road, almost closing off the way through. Most were fairly pleasant but they treated some of the later riders quite badly, throwing stones and trying to touch them as they cycled past - not amusing at all.

After the crowds had settled down, I left the group and pulled over - there are no words to describe the feeling of relief that ensued. The rest of the ride was fairly sedate, the only notable sight being some kind of airstrip where there were two wrecked aircraft strewn across the field.

Today was quite different indeed but I'll post the article I wrote for the TDA blog.

P.S. Full Mono since my one of my earphones broke.

1 comment posted so far
Panna and Brij Shah wrote at 9:25 am on Mon 15th Feb -
Well done Sunil. Keep it up.
See you in Nairobi soon.

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