May 5, 2012

Milanje-Caia 290km

Left Milange with some real food and very welcome resting, thanks Kobus and Nana, made me feel like a guest in a hotel at times. Getting soft again, time for some more camping and manning up;). Although if i knew what lay ahead some very different thoughts would have crossed my mind.

Had some more majestic views of mt mulanji as i headed out east (again) although this time a bit further away from the mountain. The road was in pretty decent shape and combined with the fact that i would be dropping around 700m today into the lowlands of mozambique, some vaguely maloco ideas of pushing miles entered the dome.
Luckily the road intervened. As well as the Mozambique admin. Got stopped for my bicycle license, and after convincing the official that it is registered in SA he wanted a bribe and then begged for money. Funny the difference between the two countries, here none of the children was begging and i'm loving kids again. Got stopped for the first time at the most random control post for my passport. Had to dig a bit.

Still pretty much smooth sailing and for the first time on the trip i was staying in the big blade for significant lenghts of time. Actually managed a 20ave for 3 hours. Was a bit surprised and unsure what to do with myself so consulted the gps and started takin some shortcuts.

At lunch with 120km down crossed a bridge and looked for the big turn off to some arb village. Eventually the local gps method worked much better. Should send some photos/info to garmin, in all likelihood a car has not been on this road since the war. The one side was pretty clear and def still in use by the locals. Althought the way they edged past me, trying not to go off the track made me a bit more than slightly worried about landmines...

Eventually lost the track completely, but only after the grass had ripped me to shreds (well close). At times i thought i might lose an eye even through my shades. The worst part about the grass i only found out the next day when i started sweating again, eina. Did some serious stetteyns bundu up and down, and after about an hour found a guy chopping it down who helped me find some form of track again. By now landmines was not even considered, no person could even remotely be crazy enough to mine this area, even just moving through it was a serious hassle. And mozam is almost mine free. The guy explained something about four bridges after which i would be able to ride fast. He might have referred to the road which i found the following day. One, two, three and lost myself again for the next two hours.

The trouble was that at times i could see the very old road, or sign of it, always heading south, but the locals and the more semi rideable track was varying between south, SE, SW, W, E and even N at times. Even though it was only 40km to the road never made it. With a beautiful moon rising and me heading off North again decided to cut my losses. Tried digging in the river for water to no avail. Found and lost a friendly dog. Finally found Thimo's house, the one i rode straight into also contained probably the only english speaking person in a 30km radius. Perfect.

If i do get malaria it will be from that night. While waiting for Thimo and pitching the tent i was probably bitten more than 100times. And thats a conservative estimate. Still made it into the tents after declining food, was hungry but too scared of being sucked dry. At least if i do get malaria i know exactly where i got it.

Left my bag on the bike and waaay to many mozzies out so had the brainless idea of making it without a sleeping bag. Interestingly cold night. Kept putting on clothes untill i woas wearing everyting i had. Still cold though. Thought of carl and put my legs inside the backpack which helped a bit.

To my surprise i woke up in the same place. Those moZzies was something else. Got an escort to the big road (only 4 very frustrating km away). Did about 15previous day just going up and down random paths leading nowhere, always endong up about 5km straightline on gps from the village. In any case extremely grateful for my host who had some good drink2beers.

ROAD!!! Salvation. And then after 10km felt robbed of something. A shortcut most definitely is the longest way of travelling between A and B but also by for the most fun way of doing it. Yesterday was not a day i would soon forget, for the suffering and frustration yes, but much mcuh more so for the amazing riding and sections of singletrack that very few azungus have had the previlage of riding.

Getting tired, so shortly today. My bundu trailblazing got me to a point where left detour to big road and tar later. Right back to original planned ride to The longest railroad bridge in africa (although crossing bit of issue money wise). Or another tempting shortcut straight through to Caia. Obviously i'm a slow learner so opted for the shortcut again. The riding quickly became insanely epic again although luckily not as overgrown as the day before. Singletrack mania. Had a very sketchy section along the river on some rocky outcrops, climbing experience came in handy. Amazing ride down shire, zambezia and zambezi river. All in all over 100km of singletrack riding in two days. Not too bad.

Lesson learned forgotten and all that. Lets hope it doesnt rain soon cause there is no way of hetting all the grass and seeds out of my hair anytime soon, the ultimate in going green?

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