Wednesday saw the crew awake to another awesome campsite, with views of Horrocks Pass. We certainly had a loo with a view!
Horrocks Pass, which auto-corrects to 'Horrible Pass' as I type, was a nasty climb. Big A was doing the final 5km of his 106km shift. It was a This climb was at an average grade of 5% with a final kicker of 11.8% let's just say things got a bit emotional at the top.
Ba Kel rolled out of camp and had the downhill - he was off to a solid start. After that, things got tough. The wind picked up and a few squally showers passed through. The last 5 km were tough, we could see it on his face and in his walk when he hoped off the bike.
The weather was taking a turn for the worse. We reconvened in Peterborough to have an emergency war-room planning meeting. Lots of options to talk through and assess. After all that, we decided to continue on the original route and assess the conditions down the track.
El was still riding, so I was in the car with Reid, Dan and Big A... (interesting times)
As we were coming up alongside El...
Reid: Look at that, direct headwind. Do we stay this way for long?
Nat: Hmmm (looks it up on Wiki-Camps), we're heading this direction for 444km, sorry.
R: Yeah, but the wind's gonna turn, at about 2am.
Dan: It's definitely a rather-be-going-up-a-hill-than
N: what's worse, wind or rain?
R: I'd rather have tailwind and rain, over a headwind.
Talking strategy for the next few hours in the headwind... after a few options were raised, they decided on 1hr stints each between Reid and Andy for a few turns...
R: this will be good, we'll mix it up. Boom-boom-boom-boom.
A: There'll be no boom-boom, Reid - it's gonna be a hard slog.
D: That's important to communicate, they're not doing this for fun, or cos it's cool.
N: So why are you doing it?
R: Cos we're dumb!
D: weather forecast for Broken Hill tomorrow: min 6, max 13. Wind gusts up to 60km/hr.
A: We're screwed
D: But we'll definitely be back for the NRL grand final, or I'm just cutting it.
R: We'll just find a pub somewhere, send out Kelvin.
Reid, sitting in the car waiting for his turn... "that bird's trying to fly forward, but it just gave up, ha".
During Reid's second stint, the crew met up in Yunta and saw tree branches coming down and a wheelie-bin being blown across the service station... the call was made - go get Reid. Time is of the essence... another team meeting to discuss options, risks and concerns. As a team, we decided that the safest option was to pause the event (and the tracker). We packed everyone into the cars and drove 200km up the road into Broken Hill - attempting to out-run this weather system. There's a lot to consider and many opinions and reasons for continuing vs pausing, but ultimately it was a safety call, and we are now nicely tucked up in Broken Hill for the night. I must admit, it was a nice little luxury to have my second proper shower of the trip, enjoy 'family dinner' in the communal kitchen and I'm so looking forward to a warm bed!
At this stage, the plan is to get moving first thing tomorrow. Check out the tracker on our website, so see our progress. As we've said: "over-prepare, then go with the flow".
One of the key factors in our safety call tonight was not just the risk to the cyclists, but the thought of everyone's families back home. Each person here has family and friends to return to, eager to see them home. Family is a big part of who we are as people. Eagles Wings runs a Family Program - which is committed to a process of identifying vulnerable children and, over time, reunifying them with their existing family and community. We are also committed to developing alternative care methods, such as foster care, that will see children placed into caring homes, rather than into institutions, until they can be reintegrated with existing family.
HIV/AIDS has devastated many African nations and communities and Zambia is no exception. Over 15% of the population are HIV+ and over 600,000 children are orphaned in Zambia alone due to this epidemic. As a result, the once strong extended family system in Zambia has broken down, leaving children vulnerable to exploitation and exposure to a life on the streets. This is at the heart of our organisation and ministry.
The Director of Eagles Wings Zambia, Mr Lackson Matolokoshi is currently visiting Australia to share more about this work. We'd love for you to meet him and have the opportunity to hear the updates direct from EWZ. Keep an eye on our Facebook page over the next few weeks, to find out where you can catch up.