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by SS at 4:45 pm on Saturday 8th May

I just realised that we've reached May - astounding how fast time has flown. Like a friend mentioned, time is passing far too quickly nowadays. The last two days have been the first two out of seven on the Namibian dirt road which takes us to Sossusvlei - a touristy town on the edge of a desert.

This dirt is remarkably smooth - often more comfortable than some of the pavement we've ridden. Occasionally there are deep, sandy patches (not fun on skinny tyres) and some corrugation. On the whole though, not nearly as bad as the Sudanese/Kenyan/Tanzanian dirt we've ridden so far. Today, there were a few giant puddles crossing the road and I took the opportunity to ensure my clothes became suitably filthy by rolling through all of them at speed. (The knobbly tyres I'm using are great for kicking up muck.)

The rain cloud that has followed us since we left Cairo is seemingly intent on accompanying us all the way to Cape Town. It's rained the last two days - yesterday we were saved from damp cycling but the thunderstorm started making noise shortly before dinner. Today we rode towards grey clouds for much of the stretch before lunch - not being rained upon but battling against a solid headwind. At lunch it started raining and after we climbed the Spreadshootge Pass (odd place names are all the rage in this Afrikaans speaking part of the world) the rain started. Apparently it hasn't rained in this part of Namibia for three months making us both unlucky and lucky(?). As Tour Director Paul commented, 'Someone up there must really hate these people.' We've had more rainy days than any other TDA past (I think).

I'm running out of ways to describe the rain so I'll just mention that it was heavy and lasted for what seemed like an hour. Shockingly my cycle computer continued working throughout the entire experience. When the rain decided to leave me alone, my speed had halved - an effect of the headwind which was thrown in free with the rain. A strange thing happened to me around 100km in and 20km from the end. I felt extremely dozy on the bike - almost as if I was about to fall asleep. I checked my heart rate monitor and I was only at about 130BPM, 65% of my maximum. For a short while I put some effort down to try and wake myself up by travelling at a faster speed - these seemed to work temporarily but my tired legs soon brought me back down to a slow speed.

Yesterday we ran event number five of the Decathlon, the rock throwing contest. This event stems from the practice riders have had at returning missiles thrown at them in Ethiopia. Besides a cardboard cutout (carefully prepared by Jacob) of a child hoisted on a pole, we also had a map of Africa which Dave staked out using a rope and some tent pegs. I marked the countries out using flagging tape and competitors were given points for every country (that we visited) in which they managed to land a stone. The cardboard cutout was amusing and rider Dan S. managed to rip off the cutout's arm with a rock half the size of my helmet. By the end of it, we had to tape its head up because it had lost all rigidity from being pelted with such force.

Another miscellaneous facts - my locker door has broken off for the third time this trip. This is due to a combination of my poor upper body strength (trying to load my heavy permanent bag containing spares and less often used clothing usually results in a fair amount of weight on the door+hinge) and some lack of care. It is annoying though because my packing system relies on being able to fit loose items at the front of my locker - I've found some of my possessions floating loosely about the truck twice in two days now.

Tomorrow we ride into another rest day although apparently there is no internet access until we hit South Africa which is not for another eight days at least. I'll try using my mobile internet connection but seeing as there hasn't been any cellular coverage for a couple of days, this is not too promising.

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"Our thoughts define our reality." - Anon.