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by SS at 4:39 pm on Saturday 17th April

Another block update because it's been a busy few days. The first day out of Lusaka was a 160km day, of which the second 80km was a race for safety reasons. Not wanting to expend all the recovered fitness from the rest day, I took the morning extremely slowly, riding with Adam (who was taking it slowly because he was sleepy) and trying to keep my heart rate below 120 BPM. This worked well until about 20km before lunch when two trains of riders came rushing past, the faster of the two oontained Jethro, Simon and a crowd of racers and the second contained business class (the Tour nickname for the group of middle aged riders who stay in expensive hotels every rest day and drink wine every evening) and some other riders.

I eventually tagged onto the second group and managed to keep my heart rate reasonably low until Gerald, leading the group, took it away. For some reason he sped up to an uncontrollable pace and left most of the group behind. Not wanting to push it too hard, I was in the left behind group and took it easy until the steep hill just before lunch made it impossible to keep my heart rate low without falling backwards off my bike.

Lunch was especially busy, all the racers having taken it slowly and having actually stopped for lunch. I left pretty early, sometime after Jethro and Tim who were the first out. The tailwind picked up significantly and I was cruising along doing a solid 40kmph - it took some effort and my heart rate was a solid 160+ BPM for the entire 80km. Sometime in, I was overtaken by Marcel and rode with him for a few kilometres until Eric Dufour caught up. (If I haven't mentioned it previously, Eric is using the TDA to train for the Race Across America, an EPIC 10-14 day race across the entire of America.) Unable to keep up with them going up a hill (I felt an immensely painful stitch across my right side), I dropped off but continued at my pace, chasing Marcel for .

Arriving at camp a short while later, other riders came in thick and fast, since we had all left so close to each other at lunchtime. Normally I'm able to get my tent pitched fairly quickly and ahead of most of the camp but by the time I had recovered from my 80km sprint, a quarter of the other riders' tents were already up. That evening, the camp was also host to a rowdy local bar and a bike (one of the sectional rider's) was stolen (and subsequently recovered) along with about fifteen of our much coveted folding camp chairs.

The next day was another long day, lengthened to 184km so that we would reach a nicer campsite - Ruze Chalets. Not having anything to do after breakfast and being full of energy dense oatmeal (unusually thick, even by TDA standards), I left early with some of the first riders to leave. Overtaking them on the sandy track out of camp (this was slippery sand, impossible to go in a straight line for more than 20 metres before hitting some hidden obstacle under the surface and resultantly careening off track), I rode alone for a good 30-40km. I was overtaken at this point by a fast group of riders (shortly after Tim and Jethro blew past at huge speed) and joined them, the tailwind from the previous day being absent and making the day slower.

That evening I was wrestling with trying to shut the zip on my tent - both zippers have now given up and there's no obvious solution on the zip teeth themselves. With some help from Jeff and Diane, an American couple who are well versed in the art of zipper repair, a pair of pliers to the zipper later and my zip appears to be closing. I don't know how long it will last for but I'm glad this is happening now with a month to go and not much earlier in the trip. Apparently most manufacturers cover zip defects within the warranty and hopefully Terra Nova will do the same.

The final day into Livingstone was shortened as a result but was still a respectable 152km. I took the day slowly, my legs and cardiovascular system hurting from the previous hard two days, and rode with Ruben and Jason. It was a beautiful day and a stunning day to end the riding week. The pavement became amazingly smooth at 60km until 100km - the road was still under construction though and there were several sections which were still under construction. As we got closer to town, the last 40km were increasingly potholed and required both quick weaving and quick dodging as the traffic coming in the opposite direction veered to the wrong side of the road to save their suspension.

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