Two days before going in to the dessert I get told that I need a permit to go through the park. So I pay in advance for three days and two nights. Now I think I wont linger around that long but I get told you can get a fine if you have no valid permit. I am about to enter a 320 km long strech of dessert, it is known as one of Namibias worst maintained roads. A dessert with no waterholes, no farms, no campsites with no water or shops.
I plan to rest the day before or at least just cycle a very short distance of 35 km. What goes wrong here is that I get delayed looking for a spear tyre and also what is worse I have a strong headwind which makes this rest day more like a tough half day. So I am tired. I eat but I dont eat so much. A big chicken leg and big scoop of poatoe sallad is not much to prepare for a ride like this. But my thoughts are not focused on preparation more on the dangers and worries of this mission.
I get a B&B close to the exit road to the sand and heat inferno ahead. I check the weather and it seems ok, not good but ok. Head wind 3-5 m/s 30-36 degrees. I am quite fit so I could make this or?!
In the evening I prepare the bicycle. Check for loose screws, with ducttape I fasten the half broken chain protection. I again atach one of my watercontainer holders which fell of in the last dessert. I change tube in the front tyre which have been leeking air the last days. I throw away some extra spokes, bags of energy drink and tubes with punctures. My host comes over with a take away breakfast. And last I post the blog about this past day. At midnight I turn the light of and fall asleep emediatly. I wake up at 5.40 without alarm. It is time to go.
It goes well and well before sunrise I am on the road. After a half hour, around seven it starts getting light. I do have a slight headwind which picks up as soon as the sun rises. I pass the sign for the park
which is also the last shadow to be found for the next 100 km. Soon I stop for breakfast. My host has made some great sandwiches and I guess she was also a bit concerned about this cyclist.
It is hot very fast and at 11 it is very hot. The wind coming through the inland dessert is not helping much, rather pushing me back. It is allready at least 30 degrees. It is all sand and dirtroad now. Mostly you cycle on the left for 50-100 m then it becomes loose sand or big stones so you change to the track next to it. Usually that one is no good so you cross over to the right side of the road over all bumpy loose sand tracks and very corugated bumpy tracks from dried water. Then hopefully and usually that track on the other side will work for another 50 m before the tyres dig themselves in to the sand and either you have to walk a few steps or you have to cross over again. This is ok but the heat is on. The sun is not resting. And so I can not rest. Stoping means less wind since I will have no speed wind.
Stoping because of it beeing too hot means no rest. There is no shadow to find. At noon I see clouds ahead and I think of reaching them soon. But it is not easy and when I get in line with the first and smallest cloud I see to my dissapointment how it evaporates in to nothing. It is frustating and more over I am getting fried here. Overheated and dehydrated. I carried 11 L of water when I started in the mourning. Before three I had drank about four liters plus a cold cola and the drink from the food package. A man stops as I am having lunch and asks if all is ok. He tells me it is hot day for cycling in the dessert. Only the day before it was less hot. I say I am fine but he gives me a cold nice cold good cold cold mmm a cold cola and I am greatful. How great people can be. So nice. So cold.
But when I get in the line with the clouds where I should reach some shelter from the intense sun. And they disolve. And when I drink from my botles now in the afternoon it is containing liquid with a temperature of about 50 degrees I feel weeker. I need to get away from the heat. I can not stop and put my tent up or. A tent in the sun makes an oven. I am suppose to cycle 150 km today. Now I have gone pretty hard for nine active hours and I have done a hundred. I am not allowed to camp in the wild by the road so even if I go until sun set I may not get to one of the campings. The road is also worse now the last seventie km. But this is not matter now. I feel like I am ready to faint. I close my eyes several times the last hour. I hardly wave to the cars who wave happily through there window and leave me in a cloud of dust. No this is no fun. This is too much of a struggle, this is not happy. If I dont ask for help now I will soon be found on the road dehydrated and miserable. I wave to a car as I have had my share of heat for today. The car stops and the man is very helpful.
He puts my bicycle on the truck and gives me a big botle of cold water. I drink it within minutes. I feel week with sour limbs in knees, hands and arms from the shake and bump road, but happy about my dessicion. Yes I did it. I acted against my struggle to feel better to take care of myself.
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It is not even nine at night. I am a beaten man. Defeated by the heat of the dessert. I did not plan to go through the dessert in the way I have done today. But I am happy it took this turn. I am often too hard too myself. Struggling with projects or like this trip for nothing. Or at least for very litle fun. It is deffinatly great finnishing things, reaching your goals but on a trip like this I feel like it is ok to hitch hike or get help every now and then. The true benefit is the experience and learning about yourself. That is also why writing this blog is so good for me. Makes me look back and reflect.
I have thought about why it went like it did today and the main reasond is motivation. I am not very motivated any more or now the last weeks and the last days. I have also had litle rest. I have drank alcohol the last week, not much but could be effecting. I did not prepare myself enough for this distance in the dessert. I know nothing about cycling in theese conditions. When it is the hottest time a day, what to think about. I find out within the coming days that I can cool my drinks by putting a wet cloth around them. But not how to make the cloth wet. And that the highest temperature is around 4 o clock when the sun is shining on your whole body sideways and the sand is super heated up from the whole day usually the sand has a temperature of 80 degrees on a hot day.
The man has a campsite and I stay two nights. I am soo tired during the evening I sleep as I arrive. Then I get invited to join some nice overland group for dinner and that is great. They cook soo much food.
Also so nice to have conversations for more then a few minutes which now was a three whole days ago. The next day I talk a lot with a landscape photographer, Bernd, and get a bit knowledge how he lives, in a 4x4 car in a tent in Namibia for the last years. He is a freelancer and is making a coffee table book. He makes me lunch and I make him dinner. We both work in the afternoon. I am drawing a bostadrätt in Stockholm and he is deleting photos. At five we take a walk which for him is work until sunset.
We see a beautiful sunset as the zebras galop over the green dessert landscape. Also we see a rare venemous snake, the horned adder.
After the second night I get an early ride with the owner through the worst road over to the end of this tough park. I have decided to enjoy this last month.