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by SS at 3:11 pm on Sunday 11th April

My legs are hurting - we've done a lot of mileage this week and the rolling hills haven't helped. Yesterday was a shorter 124km and today was 148km. I tried tailing Jethro out of camp yesterday, with his permission but we were both passed by Dan, Stuart and Gisi at about ten kilometres, whilst climbing a hill.

Unable to keep up, I dropped off and tried to catch them again once I'd hit the top of the hill. Soon after, I caught Gisi who had also been dropped and together we both tried to get back into the fastest group. This was impossibly difficult. I pulled Gisi for most of 15 kilometres, with my head down and arms outstretched on my aerobars, pumping as hard as my legs would go and pushing my fatigued heart up to 90% of maximum and holding it there. Gisi, the mountain goat, was faster up the hills and would pull me up the last few hills as we got within fifty metres of the group.

When we were finally close enough, Gisi went all out. In an annoying deja vu moment, we were climbing again and I was dropped by Gisi. She made it to the group and I gave up on trying to catch them. Instead, I rode solo until I caught Rod and Juliana doing a more reasonable pace. Riding with them until lunch and for a short while after, I took the opportunity to take some much overdue photographs and take in the beautiful greenery that surrounds the road.

Camp last night was at something near 500 metres above sea level, a descent from the previous night. It was WARM, worsened by the humidity. For most of the afternoon, riders were sitting around in the shade, slumped on earth green camping chairs. I woke up several times overnight with water that condensed on the inside of my tent dripping on my skin.

Today's ride was a return back to the above average daily distance which we are now committed to cycle. A far 148km was coupled with a 1700m (but actually 1900m) climb over rolling hills and made for a near 8 hour day, a similar time to the 198km from a couple of days ago.

I struggled today and it was a case of survival. My legs didn't have what was necessary in them and I was not fast at all - leaving late but failing to catch up to anyone significantly fast. I found the morning quite tough, being surrounded by other riders and struggling to keep up with them. After lunch was superb though, cycling solo and not seeing another rider for literally hours at a time. I took in the scenery, rode at my own pace and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Camp life today was eventful, consisting of a runny chocolate pudding for dessert, left over from the wonderful Nymo (spelling?) bars that Rod and Juliana made for Juliana's birthday. There was a bike donation ceremony to a local group of aid workers involving speeches and the locals singing and dancing.

After this, I joined Simon and Dave for the second of their night rides. Changing the batteries in my head torch helped immensely (it's like a floodlight now!) and we cycled a few kilometres up the road before turning around and going past camp to a small Coke stop where we met Erin and Ruben. Unfortunately they were out of drinks because of some strangely tight supply chain logistics.

The campsite we're at tonight is in the grounds of a Jehovah Witnesses' Kingdom Hall (whatever that entails) and luckily only one person received a copy of their leaflet. Normally I don't comment on toilet facilities but they've has become a large part of each rider's life. At most bush camps we have the shovel situation where we walk far into the distance, dig a hole, use the hole and then fill it back up. This has worked well apart from places where either there is little cover, or the ground is hard and impossible to dig and in places like Zambia where most of the country is covered in overgrown stomach-high grass.

In school camps similar to this, there are often primitive squat toilets. These are usually surprisingly clean but require fairly respectable aim. More advanced squat toilets are found at more organised campsites which have a porcelain baisin and sometimes even a flush. Finally, the Western style seated toilets have been present occasionally - often usable but sometimes worse than squatters, especially if the flush breaks.

In this camp, we have squatters which aren't so great - trying to use one at night was a dangerous affair, risking getting attacked by a million bugs attracted to my newly enbrightened headtorch. In addition, the walls aren't so well thought out, making balance and aim both quite difficult.

Human waste disposal aside, we'll be entering Lusaka tomorrow and most probably spending most of our time in an airconditioned mall eating fast food, ice cream and watching Hollywood movies. Hopefully they have clean and decent toilets!

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