Tuesday 15th August – Mgata to Chalinze
Our penultimate day arrived and, whilst we’d be guilty of massaging of our own self-importance for thinking it was real, it felt like news of The Big Bike Ride had spread through the small towns and villages we were passing en route to Chalinze. It seemed as if more and more people on the streets were waving, cheering and saying ‘habari mzungu’ than the previous nine days, urging us on. The obligatory wave or thumbs-up, I find, just takes the mind off the increasing soreness of certain places after so long on a hard saddle.
The team agreed that the combined physical and mental demands of today surpassed those of the day before – more hills and an ever-increasing burn in the quads placed a renewed importance of the team working together to pull each other through. By the afternoon, the 45 minute breaks seemed longer to come round – but we had learned our lesson and avoided asking Francis how long left we had.
We arrived at our accommodation – a small guesthouse on the outskirts of Chalinze – at 6pm, which was a little later than hoped for because we need to be up at 5.30am the next morning for the grand finish.
Our prize for finishing will be a few days relaxing on the beautiful island of Zanzibar, so the team didn’t need any more motivation. This meant, however, that tonight was our last night together as a bike team and support crew. Ken, Francis and Simon will be heading back to Kenya tomorrow in the support van with all our bikes.
In their own words, they described playing their part in the bike ride as a ‘holiday’ – certainly not how I would describe it! – they’ve been such a help to us along the way. From small things like filling up water bottles during pit stops to being valuable, larger-than-life characters on the way, they have been a huge help to the team. I have known Ken for 10 years and it’s been special to have a great friend on the journey with us.