Monday, May 30, 2011

TdA Hangover - Stage 4

Must. Do. More. Cycling.

I figured that I'd take the month of June off to hang out in Calgary with my family and take a break from the bike. But the TdA has been finished for two weeks now and I'm going nuts. I miss cycling and sleeping in the dirt.


I think that I'm going to take a crack at the riding the Tour Divide this year. As it starts in less than two weeks, I have a bit of work to do. A new bike. Storage. Maps. How exciting!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

TdA Hangover - Stage 3

I'm now in London for a week before I finally return to Canada. My adjustment to city life continues to bring me challenges. The other day, I went for a run around the perimeter of Hyde Park. And I got lost. In a rectangle.

Navigating rectangles isn't my only problem. Doors, too, seem to be causing me problems. I push when I should pull and pull when I should push. It's not that I haven't used a door in five months, it's just that there was a hell of a lot fewer of them in Africa. And the ones that existed were (for the most part) propped open all of the time. I feel that there's a metaphor there somewhere.

Then there is the whole matter of fashion. Young girls in magazines and on television telling me what it is to be beautiful. People on the underground dressed in outfits that hardly seem practical for protection from the elements or for use in day-to-day activities like walking. Or sitting.

Entertainment is also giving my head a spin. I went to the V&A museum to check out the latest exhibits. Both exhibits embodied the philosophy that artists make a living making things that you don't need. After spending four months stripping my life of such things (my bicycle barbie excepted), I have somehow lost my appreciation for the frivolity of art.

Wow, and television and advertisements. The Wii is being marketed as a tool for quality time with the family? Really? What happened to playing in the park and reading bedtime stories? And who came up with this show Made in Chelsea (wtf?!)? I haven't read a single piece of literature or news for almost five months, so I'm hardly on any kind of intellectual high ground...but this stuff is like kryptonite for the brain.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Monday, May 23, 2011

INSEAD Summer Ball 2011

First stop en route back to Canada: Paris/Fontainebleau for the INSEAD Summer Ball.

You know when your lunch bill for five people comes to 350 euros, of which only 22 is food and the remainder champagne, that it is going to be a good, good night.

That is how my INSEAD reunion began. Liz, Roy, Laura, Kayvan and I, back together for the first time since our New Years Eve celebration in Prague. We would get through another magnum of champagne and some fresh bread, cheese, and meats for the train journey to Fontainebleau.

Friends came in from Dubai, London, Hanoi, Amsterdam, Cape Town, Milan, Casablanca and New York for the occasion. As far as I can tell, there was no other promotion (but for the current class, who all live here) that had such strong representation. Not even the guys having official reunions could boast those numbers. I really feel that our year was something special.

This time, the Summer Ball was at the Chateau. What an amazing venue. Last week, I was drinking instant coffee out of a plastic cup at a caravan park. This week I'm drinking champagne out of a proper glass at a Napoleons old digs.

I love my life!

Friday, May 20, 2011

TdA Hangover - Stage 2

African cycling mission accomplished, Dennis, Kim, Paul and Matthew (Paul's brother) and I made the six hour drive out to Bloukrans Bridge to jump off of the world's highest single span arch bridge. It was scarier this time. Perhaps because it was my second jump and I knew what to expect. Perhaps because my mind is cleared of its focus on completing the tour and now had room to comprehend the insanity of what we were doing.

The next nights were filled with fun on the town and at our respective hotels, celebrating our last moments together. It was down to mostly just Carrie, NoHomo, Kim and me, with a few guest appearances. It is astonishing how comfortable you get with people after living with them for four months.
Spending time crammed in a car with the guys and then hanging out in Cape Town with friends helped me imagine that my tour of Africa is not coming to an end. I even delayed my flight by a day because I couldn't bear to leave yet. But, the fact is that each day, more of my fellow riders leave from Cape Town. Soon, I will leave, too. The urgency of NOW is so present. Knowing it is temporary and yet feeling like you have time to say and do things and then suddenly the opportunity is gone in what feels like an instant. This is the almost end.

Together we shared joys and fears, fatigue, dreams, painful muscles, empty stomachs, tortured stomachs, bruises and scrapes, wonderful moments, and suffering at times. It doesn't take long for all of the bad things to fade away. It is really hard to remember how hard the hard parts were, though I know that they were there. I liked this existence.

Eat. Sleep. Ride. Friends. Repeat.

So simple.

I will miss this.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Friends. Good Hope.

100km. Cape Town to Simon's Town.

Today, on the 33rd celebration of the day of my birth, I feel that I finally finished what I started when I came here to Africa. Cairo is home of the pyramids and steeped in history and it is the place at which most people start their trans-continental journey; however, I chose to start in Alexandria on account of its coastal geography and its historical significance. Likewise, Cape Town is a lovely city and the ending point for most voyageurs; however, the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point seemed a more worthy end of the road for me. And it is a shame that all of the riders couldn't experience it because today's ride was beautiful.
It was an extraordinarily scenic 75km along the coast to reach Cape Point. I was privileged to have Paul, Kim, Dennis and Carrie join me for the occasion. NoHomo and Carrie's sister, Penny, rode support. From the lookout point at the end of the road, we celebrated with cake and champagne. And then Adele, Kim, Mathias and Christiano showed up (coincidentally) and joined the celebration.
Mindful that there sunlight would not last forever (and neither would the cake or champagne), we eventually began our preparation to return to Cape Town. First, we had to make our way out on the hiking path for a final view. We figured that we could do this quickly with our bikes; just a short hike-a-bike over some stairs and then we would roll down the path in no time. The catch was that the path turned out to be almost entirely unrideable (at least on road bikes and after champagne). So we carried our bikes the entire way out and the entire way down the path. Let's just say that it was an adventure.

We managed to ride out of the park just as the sun was setting.
We weren't sure how far we would make it before everything was dark, so we pedalled like crazy once we were back on the highway. There was just enough light to make it to Simons Town and to see a lot of penguins along the way. From Simon's Town, we caught the train back to Cape Town because none of us had lights or reflectors. What a birthday!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TdA Hangover - Stage 1

Waking up after Tour D'Afrique is like waking up in another body. So many times along the way I thought 'WOW, this is my life!'. And, now, those memories feel as though they belong to someone else. The enormity of what just happened to me is overwhelming. It is not just the achievement of riding that far or the satisfaction of seeing so many places, the impact that the relationships that I formed had on me was enormous. Not to forget the fact that I had thought about this trip for so many years and it was never a reality and then suddenly it was happening and then now it is over. Already. Put this all together and it really does crazy things to your head!
And so this morning I'm watching a kid play tetris at breakfast and I'm thinking about how tetris is a metaphor for life and how you have these opportunities that just keep coming at you. And they come faster. And faster. And faster. And it is hard to know what to do. And you have these constraints, but the pieces keep coming. And you have to make certain decisions when you don't know what the next pieces are going to be or what the future holds. But you still have to make these certain decisions if you want to accommodate the next pieces and opportunities and make it all fit together.

I just achieved the equivalent of clearing four rows on my tetris game and have advanced to the next round. It's a clean slate. The pieces are going to keep coming at me faster now and I will have to stay on my toes. I need to make sure this next round is as good as the last!

Oh, and I walked into a cafe at lunch today and the owner recognized me from the paper and he took a picture of me and put it on his celebrity wall. Cool.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

TdA Stage 94. It Ain't Over, Even When It's Over.

91km. Yzerfontein to Cape Town.

After the burn last night, I hung out at the beach with Mathias and ChrisP and we watched and listened to the waves as we reflected on the trip. We played at the edge of the waves, getting as close as possible without letting them touch our toes and then running backward as they came toward us.
In my usual uncoordinated fashion, I managed to trip on the totally unobstructed sand while we were playing this game. Landing on my ass and laughing uncontrollably, I could do little as the wave continued inward, completely soaking me with cold, salty water. So much for my plan to stay warm last night by sleeping in those clothes.

There was a lot of excitement and emotion this morning as we packed up our tents for the last time. I had trouble just getting out of mine on account of the zip tie that some of the guys had placed on it while I was sleeping. The combination of morning confusion and the urgency of a full bladder made this practical joke particularly effective. I had to laugh because they had zip tied my tent with one of the zip ties that I had given them the night before for the same purpose (well, for other people's tents, not mine!).

Carrie and I woke up early to help our cook, Kim, prepare pancakes for everyone. It was totally freestyle pancake dough; throw in some eggs and some flour and some water and, I'm sure, something else (I was too distracted to keep track). I really admire people who can cook without a prescription.
I rolled out of camp for one last time with Carrie, who rode with me for so much of this fabulous adventure. I have had the great pleasure to ride with so many cool people along the way. When you are riding together, it feels like you are always going to ride together and then circumstances change because this adventure is so dynamic and you start riding with other people and hanging out with other people and you don't get that satisfaction of having savoured that last ride with the other people.
It is like eating a box of smarties and you reach into the box for that last one only to find that you've already devoured it. I hope that one thing that I can take away from this experience is to more deliberately savour every smartie, every experience, every encounter with people. I wanted to have all of my friends beside me for this last ride, but if I could have just one, I'm glad that it was Carrie.
We took our time getting to the convoy-meet-up spot, which was a nice little spot on the beach about 40kms from our final destination. We took pictures and drank champagne and ate chocolate cake on the beach. I did an interview with some news guy. We could have stayed there all day, but the journey had to carry on.

At the finish line, we had a ceremony with speeches from seemingly important people who we'd never met and about things that had nothing to do with our lives for the last four months. I was pretty hungry and just wanted a beer, so my interest in all of that talking and formality was rather low. But I did receive a medal for my EFI, about which I am most proud. 15 of the 63 starters made EFI; each of our journeys filled with moments of pain and suffering and moments of sweet, sweet joy.
I also received flowers and champagne for my first place finish among the women. Seeing as I am fond of both flowers and champagne, these were welcome gifts.

We all headed back to the hotel to pack up our gear and prepare for a celebratory dinner. That meant getting all of the gear off of the trucks. We've been getting on and off of these support trucks for four months now and what happens on this last trip off the truck? The winner of the entire race fell from a ladder and badly broke his ankle. His achilles is badly damaged enough that it will require surgery and an extended stay in Cape Town before he can fly.

And, it turns out that he wasn't the only one with terrible luck today. On the convoy in, one of the other riders fell and cracked her pelvis. She will be stuck here for a while, too, while things heal up. We have faced so many challenges and dangers along the way, it feels so strange for this to happen now; Luke's run in with the car a few days ago, the truck disaster, and now these serious injuries. I guess that we are never really out of harms way.

Friday, May 13, 2011

TdA Stage 93. Beach Fire.

146km. Elands Bay to Yzerfontein.

It is our last night camping together and we wanted to do something special.

Scott has been talking for some time about celebrating the completion of this journey by gloriously lighting a tent on fire with a bow and flaming arrow. This is what happens to people after four months on the road.

Tonight was Scott's lucky night.

NoHomo had rolled in to camp earlier with a bow and arrow on his back. I'm not exactly sure why he had it; I've stopped asking questions. But, I do know that his reason for having it was unrelated to Scott's plans. NoHomo agreed to let us use it, but only if we found some other arrows. I guess that he realized that a flaming arrow gets used only once. Paul grabbed some twigs from a nearby bush and began carving.

Meanwhile, Bastiaan's tent had finally reached its limit; broken poles and a damaged vestibule rendered the thing unsuitable for living. Long since fed up with that canvas mess, Bastiaan was quick to volunteer his tent for the task. He pitched it and then carried it on his back as we walked from our camp down to the beach. He looked like a parade float with the rather large tent, flopping up and down with each step on his two metre frame.

Kendra donated some paraffin to help with the burn. I donated my Barbie to help with...I'm not really certain what. Scott took a practice shot with the rather somewhat bowed arrow that Paul had carved for him. We were all set.

FWOOOOOSH! A direct hit!
Now, Bastiaan's tent lacked a lot of important qualities; structural integrity, ease of construction, weather proofness. Flame resistance, on the other hand, was not lacking. Thankfully, the paraffin compensated for this. We watched in awe as the structure slowly burned, breaking up into a hundred of tiny flames, rather than turning into the raging bonfire that some of us had dreamed about.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

TdA Stage 92. Mug and Tug.

74km. Strandfontein to Elands Bay.

I rode sweep with Mathias again. ChrisP joined as well. It was a chilled out off road ride along the stunning coastline. This time, we took coffee in a fishing shop in a small fishing town. No morning shooters today.

Mathias got called away from the ride on an emergency; one of our support trucks was in a bad accident up ahead and his medical support was required. So, I carried with ChrisP to lunch, where Carrie, Kim and Bastiaan were hanging out already with out bike mechanic, Gabe. Gabe had duct taped some coins to the train track that ran alongside the road. We waited and waited and then cheered when a train finally came by. It was a super long one; nine locomotives!

After the train had passed, we all hustled down to the tracks to search for the flattened treasures. But there was nothing. Perhaps there are some coins stuck to the train somewhere south of us now.

Taking our time in the afternoon, we stopped again for more food. This time, waffles and ice cream and coffee with brandy. There was a massage therapist at the cafe (do they call that a mug and tug?). Unable to resist the temptation, Bastiaan got a massage before getting back on the bike and finishing the ride. Awesome.

When we got to camp, we learned that the support truck was totaled in the accident.
There were only two people on board and, thankfully, both managed to escape with relatively minor injuries. Very lucky. Here we all are thinking that we are on the home stretch and that we are out of the tough stuff. It is not over yet. Anything can happen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TdA Stage 91. Emotional Rollercoaster.

162km. Garies to Strandfontein.

Today we had a mix of decent pavement and some rocky dirt road, just to spice things up a bit.

After lunch, we had a nice pace line going on the pavement. It was Scott, then me, then Other-Danish-Kim, then Luke. We were cruising along in search of the next coke stop. The shoulder was tight and traffic picked up as we approached a little town called Lutzville. The growl of passing vehicles drowned out any opportunity for conversation. And, anyhow, our concentration was fully on the road.

And then...BAM! CLACK. The sound of a bike hitting the pavement. Shit! I pull over and look back to see Luke's bike in the middle of the road and Luke standing at the side with his head in his hands. He was shaken, but OK.

Kim had feathered his brakes, causing Luke's wheel to contact his. Luke was on the inside, so the wheel rub pushed him very slightly into the road; just enough for a passing truck to graze his handlebar and front wheel.

It was a small error in judgement with potentially massive consequences; a very close call. The only physical damage was to the bike; a slightly mangled handlebar and a wobbly front wheel. The magnitude of the front wheel damage was impressive considering that it is one of those ultra strong Crossmax wheels with the special spokes. It takes a LOT of force to damage those wheels.

Emotions ran high after that; a mix of shock and relief. And then it turned to excitement as we reached the top of the last hill and had our first view of the Atlantic Coastline. I hadn't appreciated what a big milestone this would be. I just crossed a freakin continent. Holy shit!

I'm going swimming.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TdA Stage 90. Titbits and Shooters.

117km. Springbok to Garies.

I rode 'sweep' this morning with Mathias. Sweep means riding being the last rider en route to ensure that everyone is accounted for. We had to give some of the late starters a head start, so we stopped for coffee in town at a place called Titbits. It is not a nudie bar as the name might suggest, rather it is a nice little restaurant with a small terrace that is perfect for morning coffee. Scott, Luke and Paul had the same idea and rolled up to join us.

Springbok is the sort of small town that is still breaking out of anonimity and toward fame. Like all good roads to fame, this one is paved with liquor. What is Springbok (almost) famous for? The Springbokie; a delicious mint flavoured shooter.

Mint? Hey, that's practically like brushing our teeth.

So, at 930 in the morning we enjoyed a round of shooters before setting out on the road. It was a nice way to take the edge off of this rather chilly and foggy morning. Truth be told, another round would have been nice (I'm beginning to understand why old people drink alcohol in the morning).
Mathias and I took our time to lunch, making sure to stay behind everyone. He taught me how to use the slingshot that Carrie bought for me yesterday. I had a good hard hammer ride in the afternoon to avoid losing too much time. This is the last section of the race and I want to win it. I'm just trying to find the balance between my desire to take them all and these opportunities to savour these last rides.

Monday, May 9, 2011

TdA Stage 89. Back in Civilization.

133km. Orange River Camp to Springbok.

We were back on pavement today and made our last border crossing of the trip as we entered South Africa this morning. It has been a long journey getting here, yet it feels as though it has gone by far too fast. It is hard to believe that just one month ago I was struggling with the magnitude of the journey. What a difference good health can make.

Once again, the border represented a marked difference in landscape and people. Cycling in South Africa is a bit like cycling in North America. More traffic. Faster traffic. Roadside debris. Roadside amenities. White people (well, there a lot more than I'm used to seeing lately, anyway). I will miss the joy of the remote roads in Africa.

Friday, May 6, 2011

TdA Rest Day. Orange River Campground.

While it was tempting to go try out the rafting for which this area is famous, a relaxing day by the river was more in order. I didn't even venture more than 150m from my tent; my day was a blissful cocktail of relaxation, fun and eating around camp.
But it wasn't totally unproductive. Adele, Carrie, Kim and I went down to the river to take some photos for a calendar that they are putting together for us. And then a bunch of us watched The Gods Must Be Crazy tonight (outdoor screening. thanks, Ram!). This movie is relevant to our experience in Africa in so many ways, it may become one of my new favourites.

TdA Stage 88. Making History

172km. Canon Roadside Lodge to Orange River Camp.
Mostly dirt roads today. For most of it, there were no power lines or anything to spoil the landscape. It was amazing. I've said it before, but I really do love Namibia.
I stopped to help another rider with a mechanical failure; a seized jockey wheel. I have zero experience with such issues; however, I managed to look like I had a clue long enough to figure it out (after dropping the ball bearings in the dirt about 40 times).
Afterward, realizing that there may never be an opportunity to do it, Carrie and I decided to take on the Naked Mile. Yeah, it is exactly what it sounds like. There is no official organization to this challenge; still, it has become a TdA tradition and, in my typical fashion, I want to take in ALL of the experiences available.
With nobody else in sight, we stripped down (keeping our helmets on, of course) and started pedalling. Nobody around, nothing to lose. At first, we went for just one kilometre. Discovering that it was ok (and rather fun), we decided to keep going. Two kilometres. Three kilometres.
Recalling that the record was ten, we set out to make history. A few tourists passed us in their land cruisers (damn, those guys are sure quick with their cameras!), but we kept going. And, wouldn't you know, at 9.5kms we spot our support vehicles.
Did we stop? Hell no.
By the time that we were out of sight of our support vehicles, we found that we had ridden into a shanty town. From nobody around, to everybody around. We tried to be stealthy and hope that we could roll through unnoticed. Not possible. I guess that not many cyclists roll down this road.
Once we were through the shanty town, the traffic picked up. First, a truck full of workmen. Next, a couple of trucks. They came in one direction and then turned around and went in the other. It was at this point when we finally opted to put our clothes back on. 20.5 kilometres. Naked. In the Namib Desert. Beat that!
Our final 30kms into camp was tough, with a brutal headwind. Carrie and I both ran out of water fairly early (and fairly coincidentally with riding past our support trucks. Oops!). The price that we pay to make history.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

TdA Stage 87. I am the Two Minute Noodle Guy.

92km. Seeheim to Canon Roadside Lodge.

With all of my talk of protecting my EFI, I somehow found myself in the Seeheim Hotel Bar until a few hours past my bedtime, indulging in Jager shots and brandy and coke with one of our support crew and the owner of the bar/hotel/game reserve. And I am now the proud owner of a Zebra pelt. What the heck do they make brandy with, anyway?

I'm sure that it will look great in the house that I haven't found time to live in.

Somewhere along the ride today...maybe at the point at which I was retying Barbie to my helmet, I thought of Ivan. He was the solo rider that we came across when we were in Ethiopia; the crazy one with the two minute noodle wrappers stuck all over his bicycle. It occurred to me that I am not in much of a position to judge Ivan, or anyone, anymore. Between my zebra skin and my hood ornament, I'm not doing much to send out the 'normal' vibe. I AM the two minute noodle wrapper guy.

The route today was awesome. We again rode away from civilization; back into the Namibian abyss. Dirt roads free of traffic or signs of people or development. That is, until we reached our campsite for tonight, which is a surprisingly well appointed lodge, decorated with all sorts or old cars and car related things. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for it all, but it really feels like I've stepped into a worm hole and ended up somewhere in middle America. I have nothing against middle America, but can someone please take me back to Namibia!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TdA Stage 86. There is no I in EFI.

126km. Konkiep Lapa to Seeheim Castle Camp.
Location is everything when you are camping in the rain, and I've come to be reasonably good at selecting well. I can usually even avoid digging a drainage ditch by extra careful placement.
But, I was not so clever last night.
What I didn't account for was I) the volume of rain that we would encounter, and II) that others would set their tents up so close to me and dig drainage ditches (accidentally) pointing toward my tent.
I woke up feeling like the ground underneath me was a whole lot softer than I'd remembered it going to bed last night. It was a feeling akin to being on an air mattress in a swimming pool, except that it was dark and rainy instead of sunny and I was in for a cocktail of mud suffering and instead of long island iced tea by the pool.
I waited for as long as I could to get out of the tent, hoping that the rain would subside. But the rain still came. It was the first morning in a while that I dreaded packing up the tent and getting on the road. At least I'm not sick anymore.
I eventually sucked it up and told myself that it would be ok once I was on the road. As I was leaving the camp, there was another rider cycling back into camp. He'd gone out a few hundred metres and decided that it was not ridable and came back to get in the truck.
I quickly discovered why.
The consistency of the mud on the road allowed tires to sink in far enough to make steering a full body effort. The granny gears were out in full force. It would be 31kms until I reached the first town, and pavement. I calculated and recalculated my time to the pavement. Three hours to go....two and a half hours to go...two hours and twenty seven minutes to go.
It was hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. It was just as challenging as I'd feared while I had been laying in my tent this morning. Yet it was somehow so fun. Even when things are bad, they are good.
At the town where the road switched to pavement there was a little shop selling pies and coffee...and, for some reason, Barbies. I warmed up and waited out the rain with Carrie and Kim and a few others, while indulging in all of the shops specialties, including a wedding Barbie, which I strapped to my helmet. Everyone needs a mascot.
When I finally got moving again, I was delighted to find that the next stretch of road was not just paved, but had a slight decline. That is, until after just a couple of kilometres out of town, when my rear shifter busted, leaving me with a three speed bike that was woefully inadequate for the tail wind on the paved road. I tried to make the most of it by doing ultra high cadence intervals.
After close to an hour of this, one of the support trucks passed me and it was carrying a sectional rider, Christina, who had thrown in the towel for the day. She kindly offered me her mountain bike to finish off the remaining 70 kilometres. I suppose that I could have finished the ride with my limited gears, but I would have paid the price tomorrow - I would have finished more tired and likely too late to replace my shifter.
We may be more than three quarters of the way through the trip, but I still find myself quite focused on making sure that I achieve EFI. This means avoiding unnecessary risks (such as riding 70kms - or possibly more than one day - with one gear). Christina helped me out a lot today by lending me her bike. It is not the first time that I've been saved - that my EFI has been saved - by the effort of another. It was Carrie who got me into Gondar when my guts were trying their best to escape my body. It was Young-Adam who gave me his emergency water on the way in to Isiolo. It was NoHomo, Kendra, Mike-without-a-bike and Paul Spencer who got me the last available hotel rooms on various days when I was too sick to take care of myself.
All along the way, I have relied on others to help me keep the dream alive. There is no I in EFI.

Monday, May 2, 2011

TdA Stage 85. Expressing Values.

153km. Gas Station Camp to Konkiep Lapa.

We had heard good things about the Namibian dirt roads; smooth and regularly graded. Almost better than pavement, some said.

This year has been special though. The heavy rains over the past few months have caused significant damage and the scheduled grading has not occurred. Up until today, conditions have been pretty decent, all things considered.

Today brought us sections of corrugation and loose sand and gravel. It was a slow go, but it is days like this that help one appreciate the others.

Bastiaan lost his EFI today, choosing to deviate 96km from our route in order to make a personal visit to someone who had helped him when he was here several years ago. I know that EFI was important to him, so his decision to give it up to make this happen demonstrates just what a meaningful visit it was for him. This trip is such a beautiful way to get to know people because of situations like this; there are so many opportunities for them to express their values.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

TdA Stage 84. Savouring the Last Weeks.

139km. Sesrium to Gas Station Camp.
Dirt roads and stunning scenery all day.
I took my time with the gravel and corrugated dirt, focusing instead on my surroundings. The industry around here seems to be entirely game farms, which makes for nearly unspoiled landscapes (but for low-profile fences) and opportunities to spot wildlife.
Mathias rode with me for the second half of the day, marking just the second time that we've ridden together on this long trip. It is hard to believe that we are past 15 weeks on the road and I am still just starting to spend time with some people. The more that I get to know everyone, the more that I want to spend time with them. I really want to savour this last 10 days, or maybe find a way to keep this adventure going.