Stage 46 (27): Itumba to Bitimanyanga
A really sound sleep as it turned out; I guess I was tired from the previous day. Usual routine in the morning; get up, organize and pack as much as I can inside the tent, then tent down, finish packing up, bag onto truck, fill water bottles, check the tires (this morning letting some air out, getting it down below 40 psi so a little more comfortable on the inevitable washboard and moguls), 50 SPF suncream liberally applied, finally get myself a coffee and wait for breakfast call.
Sunrise at 6:48 and we’re on the road; simple directions for the day: turn right out of camp, follow the road until you see camp at Itumba Village …
The first 5 km or so are rather messy; active road upgrade in progress with an extra wide swath of bush cleared on either side (are they building a 4-lane highway?). But then the road becomes it’s normal narrow country dirt road, hemmed in either side by mostly bush, occasionally broken by small farm plots.
Perhaps as it’s a Sunday but as the day progresses, the number of pedestrians and cyclists increases in each direction. The standout feature of the day is just the number of people (mostly kids, but a significant percentage of adults too) sitting or standing on the road embankments, waving and calling out greetings. A very few of the kids venture out to attempt a greeting hand slap, but that’s the limit. It’s like we’re the travelling circus come to town, which I suppose in many respects, we are indeed.
Not a single stone thrown.
Lunch at something more than the halfway point (which I much prefer, regardless of distance to be achieved on the day) at a small village. When I roll up, Mats is trying to take photographs of incoming riders; crouched down in the middle of the road with his camera, he’s got at least a dozen kids and little ones literally hanging on him, so I have to think his shots will be really blurry. Although I missed it, I gather Mats had earlier launched to drone for aerial shots … which reportedly caused the village youngsters to go almost insane with excitement. I’m not sure if he got any useable footage as again, kids were leaping all over him trying to touch the controls.
The road continues after lunch with a steadily increasing number of people either going to and fro themselves, or merely watching the circus roll by.
There are some loose patches of wheel-grabbing sand, most particularly at low points where I think there’s been washouts in the past. Today is dry and dusty, however. Temperatures in the mid- to high-20s (?) and an occasional breeze plus some cloud cover help to make it a really enjoyable ride, all in all.
Camp is at a soccer field adjacent to school; literally hundreds of kids are on hand, mad with excitement at it all. A rope or twine boundary ‘fence’ sort of keeps them partially at bay. Plenty of big trees around the perimeter provide shade.
I’m into camp early enough to relax for a bit after some soup and getting my tent erected. Then 2-3 mugs of tea to help hydrate, and just chat among ourselves or a short wander about to check out the scene.
Another great dinner and that’s about it for the day.