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Bicycle parking woes

Stage 68 (50): Maun to bush camp

Up early to tote our duffels to the truck before first light; minding to step carefully over the fresh paint being applied around the pool deck by an even earlier waking and now working crew. There’s time to check out the dawn light on the Thamalakane River just 100 m or so in front of the camp and sip a morning tea, waiting for the 5:45 riders’ meeting and then the breakfast call. Away from camp before 6:30 and into some early Friday morning traffic also headed into Maun.

Our route takes us into and through Maun and then out the other side, southwest toward Sehithwa and Lake Ngami where the road forks; northwest and north toward Shakawe and the Caprivi Strip, or southwest and south toward Ghanzi. We go south. Traffic is pretty light all day, and generally courteous; a decent shoulder helps.

An incident at the first of two coke stops on the day occurs at the petrol station at Sehithwa. A taxi combi runs over the rear wheel of Chris’ bike, which was laying on the ground at the corner of the building. The wheel is buggered, at best; cracked rim and certainly not rideable for the rest of today, at least. A somewhat heated exchange follows between several riders and the taxi driver; various others crowd in to audit and/or participate. David and I push off in the growing mid-day heat before the matter is resolved; I later learn that some cash passes from taxi driver to Chris to partially recompense for the  damaged wheel. Whether or not the wheel is in fact ‘fixable’ remains to be seen (Windhoek?).

The road south has a surprising amount of traffic (surprising to me, at least). The last time I came along here, it’s was a very wet and slick sandy track with almost zero vehicles. Now there’s light to moderate traffic, including a fair number of flat bed trucks also headed south and carrying light loads, if anything at all.

The early afternoon gets very warm; perhaps into the low 30s? We’ve no cellular coverage along this section, so it’s guesswork. The predicted tail winds fail to show up, at least in anything like a consistent manner. But overall, it’s an easy ride, if a little warm and a little long.

We pass over a veterinary checkpoint about 6 km from the end of the ride. A lady is selling cool drinks and snacks from beneath the shade of a large acacia just off to the side. A whole bunch of us come close to cleaning out her stock, but she goes off and comes back with more. It’s not yet 2:00 pm, and there’s no point on getting early to a bush camp; we’d just be sitting there, too. Better to hang here for a bit and relax. I get into a conversation with the veterinary checkpoint guy, who wants to know all about us. My abysmal Setswana starts the conversation but fortunately his English is excellent and we continue in that language. A shared packet of lemon cream biscuits and then the second half of my coke keeps the talk engaging.

Our last bush camp of this tour is reached very soon afterwards and by this point in the afternoon, it’s definitely hot. Shade is provided by the truck awnings, as well as by new foliage on a huge baobab. Bucket shower/bath helps significantly my state of mind. Then it’s the usual rehydration and chats until the afternoon riders’ meeting and the call to dinner (early tonight, 5:00 pm). It’s actually not a bad campsite, despite the thorns and the eventual discovery of a (very small) puff adder under one of the trucks. I guess it too was seeking out shade.

  • Photo courtesy David Williamson

Early to bed.

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