If I could go back in time and repack for this event, I would put in way more warm clothes. Friday night/Saturday morning were freezing! The cyclists struggled to drink their water (El's started to freeze), or eat their food (numb and fat fingers with thick gloves on). The ride support crew stayed in the car as long as possible, before jumping out at each stop to shiver their way through a bottle refill, sanity check-in or cyclist changeover. With temperatures around zero overnight, the 'base camp' stayed put inside the ute, rather than setting up camp in the dark.
El started off at 5am on Saturday, and witnessed a frosty first-light with a spectacular sunrise - though she had to wipe the ice off her glasses to see it!
4th rider up was Kelvin, and he was pumped!! He powered up the first few hills, out of the saddle, legs going like pistons. Further into his ride, you could see the struggle - still going strong, but in a fair bit more pain. Reid was his spotter from the vehicle, getting a sense of his fatigue from the body language, then chatting with him at each refill spot.
Reid has known Kelvin since he was found on the streets of Zambia as a young boy. "Ba Kel" and "Ba Reid" is the friendly and respectful way they greet and joke with each other. It's a really special mateship that they share, and quite amazing that they get to do this journey across Australia together.
The riders seem to be on a high after their daytime rides. Reid shared that it was really nice conditions. On average 5 knot tail winds, gusts up to maybe 10. The road surface is good. the traffic is quiet. The last 10 or 15km (of his 105km stretch) was tough. Just feeling it a lot more in the legs, even though the hills are small, the fixie aspect makes them a whole lot harder.
Andy reckons he's in the fixie zone now.
Dan reckons that the giant mozzie are on drugs.
Support crew is finding their rhythmn, tweaking and adjusting as we go. We're finding that with the constant, rolling, on-the-move nature of this event, sleep is a precious commodity that we could all use a little more of. Bank it where you can... eg. Hedgy, Dan and I are currently in the car, in a tiny town called 'grass patch' (honestly), whilst the rider is out doing a 25km segment. We expect they'll reach us by 5am, so the alarm gets set and the seats recline for a 40min kip. The crew that rode last night are still back at base camp, and will overtake us a bit later this morning.
Today has been about community, rallying around, sharing the burdens and working together to keep going. This really reminds me of the sense of community I have witnessed and experienced in the compounds surrounding Eagles Wings in Ndola, Zambia. The Monkey Fountain Campus of Eagles Wings Christian Community School borders the compounds of Twapia, Overspill, Kanyala and Bunga. Despite, or perhaps because of, the desperately poor conditions in these communities, there is a strong sense of joy and sharing in the way they live their daily lives.
There is something about suffering and enduring hardships together that creates a strong bond between people. Our week-long physical 'hardships' are only temporary. But we hope it helps us to empathise with our Zambian friends in a small way and support them as they continue to build up and empower their communities for change.