Thursday, 15 May 2014


A brief update cannot do justice to the last, very tough section over Namibian gravel roads and South African mountains... but it will have to do anyway! Arrival in Cape Town was great, especially with the Team Flying Dutchwoman waiting for me, with messages from family, friends and colleagues. Stefan, Natalie, Diewert... thanks for coming to Cape Town and celebrating with me!

The tour has been a dream; not easy, but a lot of fun. It has been amazing to explore Africa by bike. I truly enjoyed racing for four months with such great people, and I am happy with the result; winning the women's classification, and being second over all (men + women). Now it is time for a holiday in South Africa, the bike has been packed and I will concentrate on sleeping in (very hard since I am used to get up at 5:15am) wine tasting and other very relaxing activities. Back home I will give my Blue Lightning some love and a well deserved rest, this summer I will spend on the road bike. Oh, and in the office. Time to get back to real life!

For all people who have pledged contributions to Jobortunity, thank you and I will contact you personally when I am back in Europe!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Elephant Highway

From Livingstone, we rode to Maun, Botswana, and on to Windhoek, Namibia; ten riding days, 1.550 km....

We had two nice breaks. First as we decided as a group of racers to pause the race for a few hours to hang out at a beautiful lodge with bar and pool just of the road, giving others the chance to win a stage and giving our tired bodies a well deserved break. Another great break was the scenic flight from Maun; watching the sun set ovet the Okavenga Delta, heavy rain clouds forming in the distance and the elephants and antilopes down below enjoying a lazy late afternoon was just perfect.

The Elephant Highway lived up to its expectations. The second riding day I was lucky enough to see two herds of elephants; one standing just off the road, the other one crossing the road in front of us. Amazing to see those mighty animals up so close, from a bike! Other wildlife sightings include giraffe, several kinds of antilopes and a large variety of big bugs. Where the bugs were limited to mosquitos and one spider the size of a kitten, occupying a squat toilet in Malawi, Botswana is full of creepy insects; beetles, grasshoppers, and the most notorious of all; seven cm long cane crickets. The crickets love to hang out on the road, get run over by cars, their corpses attracting more cane crickets that eat their mates, and in turn get run over by a car.... this feast is spiralling out of control, resulting is so many crickets in various stages of death on the road that it is impossible not to run over them. The cracking sound of running over a cricket will haunt my dreams, as does the sticky yellow substance that was all over my bike, shoes and legs, which may have been either cricket intestines or the vomit they spit when they panic. I don't really want to know....

In the past few days we have also done the longest stage of the tour: 208 flat tarmac kilometers from Ghanzi, Botswana to the Namibian border. Race distance that day was 204 km, with a long standing women's record of 6:23. I set of with the boys in the morning, when it turned out that the winds were not favourable enough for them to break the standing men's record of 5:45 in such a small group of racers, they volunteered to help me break the women's record. Even with a flat tire (first flat tire on my road tires, in about 6.000km!) we made it in 5:57, shaving off 26 minutes of the record! After being sick and achieving to tie the record on the Blue Nile Gorge, I was happy to show that I cannot only tie records, but smash them as well!
A big thanks to my team of domestiques-for-one-day for their support: David G., WolfenDave, Jos, Diederik and Tobias!

The last section from Windhoek to Cape Town will start tomorrow; 1900 km, largely back on dirt roads, which is very much to my liking! Off road tires are back on the bike, we're ready...

Friday, 11 April 2014

A lot of Zambia...

Zambia is big, with long, straight tarmac roads... time to speed up a bit, with long daily distances, covering Lilongwe to Livingstone in 8 riding days. To prevent boredom, the Phoenix stage was invented, a 50 km stretch on a local, steel single speed bike. It was a lot of fun, even though I was not riding a Phoenix, but towing a team mate for 20 km whose chain broke after 30 km. He still came in as the fastest man, a title that I partly earned as wel ;-) More on that here.

The Zambezi Zone section ended with three well deserved rest days in Livingstone, home to the Victoria Falls, the biggest waterfalls in the world. Having seen them in the dry season from the Zimbabwean side, I was very curious to visit them again in the rain season. Well... a hell of a lot of water! That was not a spray from the falls, but a rainstorm that made it hard to breathe anywhere near the falls. I won a sling over the Zambezi river (thanks for that, TdA and SafPar!) crossing the gorge that is the border between Zam and Zim. Quite high, and spectacular views!

From here we ride into Botswana tomorrow, in five days to Maun. Tarmac, flat, and one right turn after two days, otherwise straight. But.... as elephant sightings are quite commom, I am excited! We got a little what-to-do-when-encountering-an-elephant-briefing, so I am ready!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Malawian luxury cruise

Of course, I should not have mentioned in my last post that we had been lucky with very limited rainfall while cycling.... that was compensated for by some Malwian downpours on our way to Lilongwe. Some beautiful rides we've had, along Lake Malawi en through the mountains, rice paddies and maize fields. According one of the participants, this is the Netherlands of Africa; a small country full of crop fields, cows and bicycles. Slightly warmer though.

In the meantime, the tour has turned to a luxury cruise with several stays at actual campsites, access to electricity and even showers every two or three days, and beautiful tarmac roads! Easy to get used to, but we've been warned that we will return to bush and desert camping later in the trip.

The tour organiser has posted a (very flattering) blog update on the race here, right in time, since we have entered turbodiesel territory, with tarmac roads, long stages and short hills, where my small petrol engine has troubles to keep up with the big boys' diesel engines... we'll see where that ends!

Tomorrow we will cross the border into Zambia, riding in five long stages to Lusaka. The original plan to take back roads was cancelled because a scouting trip revealed that the planned roads did actually not exist. Therefore, we will cycle one day less and have an extra rest day in Livingstone instead, three days after Lusaka.