Stage 60 (41): Lusaka to yet another soccer field
Todays ride was shortened by some 30 km due to the originally planned campsite becoming unavailable; so our target is yet another soccer field. We’ll have to make up those 30 km tomorrow, of course.
Getting out of Lusaka proved pretty easy; approx. 46 km south out of Eureka camp on the Kafue Road, then turn west on the main Livingstone highway. Very good tarmac and a clearly marked (and wide) shoulder for most of the day. Only two climbs register, although each 3-5 km in length and getting up to 8-10% grades in places.
We’re passing through what seems to be extensive farming operations; expansive fields of maize, coffee, some fields fallow, gated entrances to sign-posted farms (estates?), irrigation systems (the first I’ve seen), and heavy farm equipment such as large tractors, earth moving machinery, and the like. It all looks very prosperous.
I see 2-3 flame trees in full bloom at one such entrance, and kick myself for the remainder of the day for not stopping and getting a photo. I think I was enjoying the tail wind at that moment, and told myself ‘there’ll be others’ … but those were the only flame trees which I saw all day.
Lots of common zinnias along the road side, but not the same.
Just shy of Mazabuka Town, and I swear the thought of a real coffee had already entered my mind, we see a sign for ‘Coffee Berry cafe’ and need no urging. Only another 30 km or so to camp, and it’s still very early afternoon. Upon rolling up, I think the entire contingent of riders are there, lined up out the door. Real coffee … the smell is wonderful. Also cakes and goodies, even a wood-fired pizza oven. A garden out the back. What a surprise - haven’t seen anything even close to this sort of place in a month.
I opt for a large Americano and cheese cake - both delicious and crazy inexpensive. Going back for a wedge of chocolate cake to follow was admittedly foolhardy on my part.
The clientele includes parents with school kids getting their after-school treats. Lots of nice cars in the parking lot. I’ve wandered into some parallel reality, perhaps.
Pressing on afterwards in the throes of a caffeine and sugar rush, I’m into Mazabuka town itself; recognizable brand name stores, banks, and grid lock traffic. Continuing through the other side, the nice road disappears like someone threw a switch. Back to decaying chip seal and broken shoulders. Small farm plots of mostly maize and now the usual scenes of African roadside life. There had to have been a change from one administrative district to another. Mazabuka turf club (polo) on the north side of town, nothing similar on the south side. There’s got to be an interesting story to explain the contrast, but it’s one to which I’ve no real input.
The last 30 km flashes by; the sugar and tail wind make their contributions to the pace. Camp tonight is on real grass … kids are actually playing soccer over to one side. Mitchell has a braai going. It’s pretty nice. Everyone in a great mood from the day’s ride (and coffee).