“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered”.
I said in my previous posts that I hoped the following few weeks would be nice and boring, Well here goes…..
Best laid plans pt 1. Once again onto the road less travelled
Fairly rested after a few days in the “bright light city” of Keetmanshoop it was time to hit the road again after paying my N$100 fine for “operating a black pedal cycle on a public road without wearing a helmet at all times”. Yeh right very funny have a nice day……. ooh you’re serious?……. Yes officer how reckless me.
I insisted that I would take it easy after going to the edge so much in recent weeks, so the plan was simple…. Take a shortcut on the D609 instead of the slightly longer ‘C’ road and cover the 180km to Helmeringhausen in about 2.5 days. Looking back the phrase shortcut I should of known better.
Day 1 started later than planned but day 1 after a few days off always starts later than planned so it’s almost part of the plan I guess. It was a little overcast and had rained all night, with only a gentle headwind and a refreshing cool temperature of 25 degrees things started well. Just outside of town the dirt road started again which was more mushy than usual due to previous night’s rains, ”not a problem I’ll just have to cycle an hour longer today”. So after an hour or so out of nowhere a monster thunderstorm had me cowering under a tree with my tarp over my head and feeling a little chilly. An hour later it was obvious that the rain wasn’t going to stop soon so I headed off again only the find the road even more mushy and damn hard work.
Within minutes I reminded myself of my pledge to take it easy, I was in no mood to fight yet another bad road especially while cold and wet, so 10 minutes later at 11am I was in my tent and went to bed until the sun came back out to play at 3pm, after a little lunch I hit a slightly dryer road.
Soon after I noticed that there were no more fences along the road. This finally gave a feeling of being in the wilderness after all these months, and instantly a mild panic that maybe the 17L of water I still have will have to last me another 2.5 days, no fences means no farms.
Day 2 started well, I managed to get my lazy arse out of bed in time to start cycling at sunrise (well almost). My Gps said I would cross the “Fish river” after a couple of Km’s This is one of the main rivers in Namibia and is famous for the ”Fish river canyon” which is a big tourist attraction further south (though I suspect the Canyons I saw where just as nice just not so Tourist bus friendly). I was expecting the river to be fairly dry if it existed at all because hiking the Fish River Canyon is only possible from mid-April because of the water situation. All the same I was down to 12l of water so hoped the descent to the river from the bridge wouldn’t be too bad so I could top up.
How naive to think that there’d be a bridge on a D road……..so I was confronted with this at 7am…….
Obviously the recent rains had done their work and it was time for me to do mine. So much for an easy couple of days, the river was on the border line between a do-able river crossing (always exciting when alone) and a turn back, do not stop at go, do not collect 200 pounds. And start again in Keetmanshoop.
What followed was a stressful and rather tiring hour. 3 shuttle runs to the island 2/3 of the way across(50m). This was slower moving and mainly only knee deep. Then I did the 3 runs to the far shore in slightly deeper and faster running water(30m). It started off with “check me out doing a river crossing with my bike on my shoulder, this’ll make a nice video” and by the 5-6 run I was quite tired and it was more like “this is fucking scary what the hell am I doing” in the deeper water the front wheel would try and dip into the water which increase the drag enormously, so fighting for my footing in fast running water was hard enough, the little kick from my bike from time to time was just scary. The image of loosing balance and getting washed downstream without anyone in the world knowing where I was played at the forefront of my mind. “All is well that ends well……”.
With a precious hour lost I could only cycle another hour before hammock time, the road remained mushy and hard work because large areas had been washed away. Luckily in the evening I came across some small goat farms and was able to get some more water, some of which turned yellow after a few hours……The road remained a nightmare and I stopped at sunset and was in my tent just before the storms started which continued all night giving me a rather restless night wondering which tent pole was going to break.
Day 3 it became painfully obvious that I wasn’t going to get to town in 2.5 days, by 10am I’d only covered 20km in 4 hours due to the mushy gravel and some spots with very sticky clay and it was once again hammock time. I’d just filled my water up at a farm but was a little concerned about the food situation, I’d started with food for 3 days good eating plus the usual 2-3 days boring reserve, but had eating a lot more than usual due to the damn hard work and boring afternoons waiting for it to cool off.
It was time for action I had to cover the remaining 95km to town as soon as possible or I might run out of food. Lucky it had been a hot day so the gravel was a lot dryer so it was time for a no guts no glory evening, planning to get as far as possible before the storms started again. I had a last supper of pasta, my last tin of tuna and last tin of peas and hung the last bag of nuts on my handle bars to much along the road. Between 6-10pm I stomped out the 50km needed to “break the back” of the remaining distance, almost crashing several times when hitting sand or large puddles in the dark, luckily I have a good headlight run via my dynamo so I saw most things coming.
Shame the Ants had already made a start on my Bannocks.
Day 4 :An early start with a breakfast of 1 day old Bannocks bread and I plodded out the remaining 45km by 10am mainly back on the main C14 which was surprisingly hard work too because of the recent rains. Once in town and after 2 death by chocolate Magnum’s and a 0.5l of coke I started coming to life again.
This is the last car that tried the road I’d cycled
On my map most of these towns look the same, the population could be 5 or 15,000 I could search for more info on Google but would then spend more time on the internet than on my bike, and where’s the adventure in that?. Helmeringhausen has 1 hotel/campsite, 1 shop and 3 houses everything I need really. I was a little disappointed to find out that they wanted N$180 (18 euro) for the campsite, seems a lot of money to for a shower, comfy shit and the chance to hand wash my cloths, the camping part I can do in the desert for free. Unfortunately I really needed that shower and to wash my cloths and was so broken from the last 18 hours that I couldn’t see myself cycling on, I plan in the future to try and avoid arriving in such a state so I can just cycle on when they try to stitch me for tourist prices, or just pay 1/3 of the money for a shower and then move on!!! ( the bus full of people in safari shirts outside should of been a clue that I’d arrived on the Namibian tourist trail).
Best laid plans pt 2.
Obviously at N$180 per night another night at the Helmeringhausen hotel/campsite was out of the question so a rest day would have to wait, I could always take a rest day in the desert now that I’d had my shower and had kilo’s of food. The next leg would be 240km so I stocked up on food and planned for 5-6 days. Luckily the road was a lot better and it stayed dry for a few days so this was a reverse of the previous leg, my legs where on form so I was done in 2.5 days, and loved the descent from the Zarishoogte into the Namib.
Now I’m taking a rest day at the Littlesossus campsite (was when I wrote this anyway), possible one of the least inspiring places to put up a tent (they have camping bunkers for shade) but with one of the best views I’ve had at a campsite( great view of the Zarishoogte).
And now further with the tourist trail, its funny seeing all those tourist buses and trucks, all those half dead, half asleep tourists missing so many beautiful thing caged behind their glass and airco.
Now onto Sossusvlei, Solitaire and Windhoek and all those other expensive tourist places, so hopefully I wont need one of these things again for a while.