Sudden Setbacks

/ Friday, 7 August 2015 / NamibiaZambia

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Back in the saddle, and the sitbones have calmed down, yet frusatratingly the thighs and calves have not calmed themselves down like they should have. Even still, experiencing a bit of numbness in my left foot which is troublesome – I need to be careful going forward. Even though I said I wouldn’t push myself I found myself unintentionally driving myself into that stage.. First few days of riding working out the kinks brought a few more. Woops.

Dirt Track

I’m at the Zambian/Namibian Border – on the Namibian side in the city called Katima Mulilo. I was here in January 2014 resting at the exact spot where I sit now and believe it or not met my to be… Obviously the place has a bit of nostalgia to me – so I’ve been here for 2 nights so far and planning on staying one more before heading west, down the Caprivi (Now called Zambezi) strip to a small town called Divundu. Those who remember, it’s a small “finger” at the top of the country and also crosses for 200km through a National Park. I have a python slither past me in my tent, and even caught sight of a leopard way back when. Let’s hope there’s no excitement this time. It’s flat, the tail winds are going to push me, where I will reach another favourite of mine and rest for another 5 days. What’s the rush? I’m still making great distance and have an excess of energy, likely due to the extra weight I’m carrying. 100km is a snap each day. In 2013 and 2014 I was skin and bones struggling for 70km some days so I take this as a good thing.


I left Lusaka as planned on July 28th saying goodbye to the couple who have been hosting me over the past 3 and a half years off and on. They ran Lusaka’s (only) German resturant and come March of this year closed it down for good. Too many people hitting up the malls, not wanting fine experiences – and plus they had enough. Good for them, early retirement – and they will do just fine. It so happens that they are to move into the house I was living so timing was rather perfect for it all to work out. When I return to Lusaka I’ll be living at a new location, likely to build a house out of tyres, shipping containers, or 21 tonnes of Bombaby Saphire Gin bottles – Idea’s running through my head. After a goodbye, and a 10am beer I raced over to pick up the remainder of my gear in the indusrial area of town, with more goodbyes from close friends and I was off. Heading west on a dusty dirt track to the town of Mumbwa. I’ve been there before in 2012 – yet on the tar road, but trying to keep with my goal of not riding the same roads twice as much as possible I figured this would be a good solution. To get 70km in on the first day felt terriffic as I listened closely to any sounds of the bicycle or things that seemed out of line. So far so good. The following day found me for some reaon putting in 113km, not intentional, but searching for petrol for my stove. There are rolling blackouts in Zambia right now which are causing major havoc to utilities and shops – including petrol – if its available. I had to search and find an area that wasn’t suffering from a blackout in order to be able to cook my dinner/coffee in the morning.

Funny Bar
Sleeping behind churches, or in the bush seems to be the norm so far – The churches are OK, save for the fact I usually have a healthy crowd overlooking my every move, but usually comes with a bucket of water for a shower, much welcomed. The bush is tranquil, not much going on – because people seem to be afraid of moving at night, fearing that animals will come and eat them, or worse.

Great Bar Sign


I was getting nervous a couple days in as I had to cross the Kafue National Park. It’s 140km from end to end – and asking people along the way how far the gate was elicited multiple responses. The most confusing one was the fellow who said it was “Eight-e”, to which I responded “Eighteen?” which was what I hoped for, but he persisted that it was “Eight-E”. Sure enough, 8km later I was at the gates, convincing the park rangers that I was sane enough to go through the park with Hippos, Lions, Elephants and a handful of other animals. I knew of a lodge 80km in which I was planning on staying at before riding again during the day to get out of the park. Sleeping on the side of the road would be suicide. 20km I was making good time when the Tse Tse flies started attacking. Not just one, not two, but a couple hundred at a time – This was worse than my bug experience up in the North of Canada a few yeasr back. These flies land on you, bite, and continue biting until you swat them away. I had to put on my long sleeved shirt and wrap shirts and bandanas around my bare legs to try to get them away all the while swinging a facecloth around to get them off of me. Too late. I was getting bitten. Tse Tse flies are known for transmitting Sleeping Sickness – I wrote about this some time ago, and actually know 2 people in the past 6 months who suffered from it. It was so bad they had to be injected with _arsenic_ daily to clear the system. A nice couple passing on the road stopped and gave some water to me while warning me about the dangers of the flies, something I had already known because they wouldn’t let up. I kept on riding. 80km a World Health Organization vehicle pulled up beside me along with a member of the Zambian Wildlife Service and ordered me inside their vehicle. Loading all my bags and bicycle onto the roof they insisted that I wasn’t to stay inside the park anymore and my health was more important. 2 years ago I probably would have told them to go somewhere not so pleasant, but only a few days into the tour, still getting my muscles ready, and _not trying to be a hero_ I got in, where they took me to the end of the park. I only saw a few baboons and a few 4 legged antelope type creatures, so it wasn’t that bad, but the flies aspect of things could lay some groundwork for very bad illnesses in the future. Loading up on Antihistamines I drank water, sugar, and purged myself as best as I could before riding off further down the road into the Western Province, city of Mongu.

Mongu is actually where my ‘to-be’s family is from and I’ve always been curious about the area. The Losi tribe are herdsmen and have been in the area for thousands of years. You can see similarities between them and the Masaii of Kenya/Tanzania, and still believe in Kingdomship. Every time I would mention my partners surname people would stop and bow to me, so I’m sure I’m not being let on to how her relation to the area actually is. Most police offices in the country of Zambia are Losi, and there have been times where they have wanted to secede from the country itself, calling their area ‘Barotseland’. I hate to say it, it would probably be the worst idea ever for them, as there isn’t much going on in the town of Mongu and anything south. With no real ability to grow things due to the massive amounts of sand there isn’t much other than tourism, and even that is minimal.

Mongu Scenery

Mongu Scenery

Farmers right now are employing the technique of slashing and burning, preparing for the upcoming crop season. It’s quite a frightening situation when you have to cycle through a smoky road with flames higher than 3 metres roaring at high speed through the area. Your face gets scalded, it becomes impossible to breathe, and the threat of being caught in the flames due to random winds is always there. It leaves a smoldering mess for days to come making it quite impossible to go and rest, or pitch a tent at the end of the night.



Mongu Scenery

Bridge Building

I Can’t say I’m going to miss Zambia. I’ve been here almost 15 months consecutively (take away a few vacations to Malawi) and over even the past 4 years I’ve been coming here I’ve observed a slow but steady nosedive. The people are friendly (Zambia is voted the most peaceful country in Africa) but it lacks the drive and excitement of other countries. When Zambia became a country before being previously known as “Northern Rhodesia”, the British Colonialists simply gave them the country. There was no fighting, no civil war, no real action taken on the peoples end, which definitely reflects the blahze ethic of the people here. There are unique problems in every country on this continent and even around the world, but I sometimes shake my head at the desire to fast forward ahead to become financially wealthy while skipping the fundamental groundwork that is required to support that sort of lifestyle. The skills that are being taught in schools are certainly not enough, save for if you want to learn accounting, prices are the second highest in all of the continent (for no specific reason – For example a guesthouse room with mostly working water, a bed, and a fan is minimum $30 USD in Zambia, and $60 in the big cities, where it would be $4 in Uganda, $7 in Tanzania, $8 in Rwanda, $20 in Congo etc). Prices for appliances, entertainment and any other goods are 40% higher than neighbouring countries, and it all points to greediness and a sort of pride by the people running the country. Call it Corruption, but don’t forget about the Pride. Noone really is doing anything about this blatant ripping off of the people – NO riots, NO demonstrations. I’d burn a few tires and parade around with someones head on a stick if it were me – but maybe it just goes back to the country being essentially handed over, and not knowing how to stand up for humanitarian rights.  It seems the mentality is “Now it’s my time, take it and don’t care about anyone else”, which is quite disheartening for a third world country that needs to get itself together before it becomes the laughing stock of the entire region. Oh wait, it already is. The country relied for many years on Copper Exports, but seeing that Copper prices globally have dropped 2/3rds over the past 3 years, USD has skyrocketed against the failing Zambian Kwacha currency (a -150% drop against the USD!) and little to no exports other than Maize to neighbouring country Zimbabwe sets the stage for a collapse in the coming future. What’s worse, corruption in the governmetns and utilities sector has now brought on widespread loadshedding across the country. Depending on where you are in the region, you are going to get 4 – 10 hours a day of power cuts. It doesn’t matter if you are a business, in an industrial area, retail sector – you get it. Imagine the malls going completely dark and noone able to process their transactions. Imagine the warehouses trying to fill stock, manufacture goods, transfer stock – Darkness, nothing can be done. Schedules have been put out by the power company, yet they can’t even seem to follow a schedule after 3 days, just blindly cutting off service when they feel like it. It’s only going to get worse until a 24 hour blackout comes. This forces people running businesses, living in homes to go and invest in generators, battery operated inverters to keep essential things running like freezers, fridges to avoid spoiling of food. Luckily people have already purchase gas ranges for cooking – if only there was compressed gas – There was a 3 week period just before I left where there wasn’t even a cubic ft of compressed gas available.. And those diesel generators? If only you could find Diesel! It’s a tipping point that keeps affecting other area that are heavily dependent and reliant on each other. There is an election coming in the year 2016, where the current government is trying to change the constitution for a 3rd term – This could spell disasterous for the nation – and quite frankly, I’m not sure I have the heart to live through it all.Knowing there are better places just even next door, is where I’ll likely end up residing for a few years. I still think Zambia is a great place, but not right now.

No Water Anywhere..

No Water Anywhere.. Noone really wants to admit there is a drought.

Origin Unknown - Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding

Origin Unknown – Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding

Origin Unknown - Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding

Origin Unknown – Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding

Origin Unknown - Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding

Origin Unknown – Zambian Humor making fun of loadshedding


Good news – When I arrived in Mongu I splurged and stayed in a Hotel for a few nights resting my muscles, feeling confident enough that I could complete this leg of the trip. I went ahead and booked my flight back to Canada from Johannesberg. I’m flying out September 17, along with my partner. She’ll stay for 3 weeks while I’ll remain until Mid November tying up loose ends, and likely taking a trip to the carribean for some R&R or something. I want to time it properly to be able to pick up stuff from the USA for shipping back to Africa, as its close to impossible for me to find shoes that fit, (Max size is 11), pants that fit (I’ve got cyclist legs and I just rip pants to shreds on day one), and shirts. Maybe if the technology sector changes I might pick myself up a new computer, who knows. Am excited to show my partner around my beautiful country, yet at the same time a bit frightened that I might like it just a bit tooo much.. We’ll see.

No Water Anywhere..
The bad news – Departing with great Gusto from Mongu earlier on this week I noticed halfway throughout the day some resistance when changing gears. After a bit of wrenching on the shifter it seized entirely. Uh oh! I took the assembly off and noted that the cable assembly was broken – rendering my ability to shift up and down with my hand impossible. I can change the gears with a spanner manually, so this helps a bit, but close to impossible when you are trying to effectively shift on ascents or descents to keep your cadence. Becasue of this I’ve been in the middle gear (7) and now single speeding it. This is where I started to push myself. Remember that tailwind that pushes me? Well when you are going South East it turns into a 25km/h crosswind – seriously hampering your efforts to move. Then of course come the hills that weren’t expected. Trying to slug up a hill at a slow speed is a recipe for disaster in the desert areas as you start to pick up road junk. In fact I picked up _9_ road junks on my last day coming into Namibia resulting in a very testing day muttering all sorts of obscenities to myself, luckily being smart enough to know that bad days are temporary and to keep my eye on the prize. This is where I’ve probably pushed myself the most hence the soreness that hasn’t gone away.

Found this Gem in the Middle of Nowhere - Primus from DRC in 1litre!

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though, 300km of straight line, FLAT riding to my next checkpoint. To get parts to replace the cable is quite difficult. I asked for help from a friend in Amsterdam, who could help, but it would be a crapshoot on getting the psarts. I contacted the South African Distributor, who said it is fixable but they don;t like changing the parts – If they don’t I certainly wont. I figure I have 1600km of flat land to make up my mind, and it may mean a 200km hitchike to the bike store once I get to the end of Botswana and into the mountains of South Africa. This is supposed to be fun, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to push myself to the point of injury just to say I made it all the way. My health is good right now, and I’ll keep on going until it starts to act up. Smart decision.

White | Ivory Evening Dresses

I managed to break a spoke on that last day along with a few mounts for my speakers and popped all the buckles of my ortlieb panniers – I’m already building a replacement list in my head for when I’m in Canada…

Bike Repair

Elevation Chart


Distance Travelled: 498.09 km
Distance Ascended: 1,440 m
Distance Descended: 1,672 m
Energy Consumed: 21,299 calories
Overall Cost: $103.98
    Food: $26.91
    Drink: $20.18
    Lodging: $56.90
    Transport: $0.00
    Entertainment: $0.00
    Equipment: $0.00
    Misc: $0.00
Longest Day: 2015-07-31 – 106.58 km
Most Climbed: 2015-08-05 – 442.00 m
Most Energy Burned: 2015-07-31 – 4593.00 calories
Most Expensive Day: 2015-08-01 – $ 61.02

Click to show Daily Statistics

Distance (km)
Cost ()
2015-08-05 Katima Mulilo, NA 102.03 $29.45 Map
2015-08-04 Middle of Nowhere, ZM 100.17 $1.31 Map
2015-08-03 Sengene, ZM 105.96 $3.87 Map
2015-08-01 Mongu, ZM 83.35 $61.02 Map
2015-07-31 Middle of Nowhere, ZM 106.58 $8.33 Map

Maps and Elevation Chart

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  1. August 8th, 2015

    Thanks for the update Dave. Be careful enjoy your journey ,travels and adventure Have fun !!
    Your Friend ,
    Bruce ( USA )

  2. Revelo
    September 10th, 2015

    I’m traveling myself and using a smartphone and this site is easier than Facebook for me right now. Regarding the broken rohloff shifter, have you considered cutting the cable housing, then tying the two shifter cables to sticks or bolts, then pulling on one or the other to shift gears? Probably can’t shift while moving this way, but easier than using a wrench at the hub I would think. Cable housing and cables should be easy to replace in a big city.

  3. August 4th, 2016

    wow, what an intersting post with some beautiful pictures. Can I say wanderlust?

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