Pre departure chaos

Bikes stands finally arrive in the mail on Thursday, 4 days before departure, bike pants need to be bought, pack up the apartment, still need to thank people for Beer, Bikes and Bands, first half of book needs to get to editor, need to get travel insurance, what kind of plugs do they have in South Africa? Do the neighbours want to buy our kitchen table? Taxes need to be done, must tell employers of address to send tax forms, radio interview on Joy FM, meeting Mum, Dad and Jarnia for lunch, Chiz and Matt’s joint 30th birthday party, tequila shots, Sunday morning good bye to Mum and Dad who have been staying, a last minute bike repair Sunday night after I bent my derailleur and wheel in an accident (thank you Riley), checking things off the gear list. How much sun block do we need? Shit I still haven’t got spare spokes, 2am in the morning, packing bikes into boxes, there’s a cut in the side wall of Mandy’s tyre, must get a patch for that in Cape town, camping and cycling gear strewn all round our shoe box apartment.

Three hours sleep,up at 6.30am to finish off the packing, to see if all the other stuff lying on the floor can be put in a pannier, should I put the sleeping bags in the front left pannier or back right? Can all our cooking gear fit in the one pannier – ummm, this is why people say you need to do multiple practice runs before going on bike tour. Camp stove, best I clean this to get the fuel out of the lines, ummmm I’ve never cleaned it before, best I learn quick. OK, bikes and panniers packed, Shaun our down stairs neighbour loads his truck up with our boxes full of accumulated pots, pans, duvets etc, and to think we arrived only  a year ago with two back packs. Store boxes and other random stuff in Sarah and James’s garage, Sich rings and wishes us well. Take our boxed up bikes and panniers to Matt and Linnley’s house where we will sleep the night before flying out tomorrow.  A rush to the store to get some last minute camping gear, adding to the Cape Town to do list, get bike pants, spare spokes, bum cream. Carpet cleaner arrives on the dot at 2pm, no time to eat. Must clean, flat inspectionat 4pm. Next thing we know Mandy and I are in the kitchen furiously cleaning, racing the clock to move out. “Have you done the oven?”

“Shit, we have no oven cleaner”

As I’m belly button deep in the oven with windex, the property manager arrives, keys handed over, another apartment lived and worked from. Drop my Melbourne bike off with the rest of the Beer Bikes and Bands bicycle drop bikes that will be put into the next Africa bound sea container. Walk to Matt and Linnley’s, send off some thank you emails, open a beer, friends over for our good bye dinner, curry, beer, wine, laughs, good byes, tears, thanks yous. 11pm, Mandy and I on couch, best we book our travel insurance.

Go time and good people

Wake up, ahhh the day of departure, the day we have been working towards for over a year. But still not organised, where’s my credit card? Must ring my editor, let her know that I still haven’t finished the first half of the book, but will get it to her soon.  Coffee with Linnley, taxi arrives. Bugger the station wagon has a metal grate that doesn’t allow us to put down the seats, our bikes won’t fit. Our friendly Indian taxi driver who doesn’t speak much English says “maybe you miss plane.”  But he’s on our side, it seems today everyone will be. He rams the boxes into the back seat as though we are already in Africa, I look to him asking “where do I go”, he smiles and points to the back seat “make sure no one see you.” What a legend, risking his taxi licence and livelihood so we can get to the airport on time.

Arrive at airport, taxi driver stops away from main area for me to walk the last part as to not raise suspicion, then carries onto the drop off point. A lady sees us with our bike boxes and offers her pre paid cart. Our taxi driver helps load the cart, but our bike boxes don’t fit through the airport sliding door, another friendly parking attendant helps us unload and reload. Then the guy behind us as we navigate through the roped off check in queue looks like Xavier Rudd, one of my favourite singers, what, it is Xavier Rudd!(check out the photo Mandy took before we noticed it was him) At check in we tape our flimsy $2 bags up with packing tape so the zippers don’t bust, 100kgs of gear checked in, thanks to Emily our travel agent friend $2,300 of excess luggage avoided! The Final Continent Expedition begins.

How you feeling?

This is a rather common question lately.  The truth is, I haven’t really thought too much about Africa. Firstly we were working towards Beer, Bikes and Bands, had Sich here filming, then when that finished we had to pack up the apartment for move out and get our gear packed for Africa. It has only really been today that it feels like we are embarking on this little adventure.

Yeah, of course there is a little apprehension.  I have basically dedicated the first two weeks to a sore bum, bum boils, sleepless nights, unorganised packing, thoughts of “what the hell are we doing?”, head winds and rain. I’m just expecting the worse and anything else will be bonus.  But after the hard yards will be a two wheeled life of simplicity and adventure. We will have our “house” organised, everything will have its place in the panniers, life will fall into routine, the bum will be hardened, mornings will be early and nights earlier. The people and landscapes will be amazing.

Yep, we’ve heard the stories, Namibia is the one of the driest, least densely populated countries in the world. Lonely Planet writes “Namibia is totally unsuitable for cycle touring”, yes it has the largest cheetah population in Africa, yes it’s one big desert. Yes I agree that we don’t know what we are in for. We are cycling virgins, we are naive as to what to expect. But I think if you constantly worry about things and everything that can happen then you’re still at home on the couch wondering. Sometimes you just have to do it, and find out. All you can do is get the right gear, get as much advice and instruction as possible, then eventually you have to go and find out for yourself. When people start getting worried I just say “people have circumnavigated the earth on penny farthings, I’ve been following numerous blogs of people cycling from London to Cape Town, our little cycle is just a walk in the park compared to the crazy expeditions other people are undertaking.”

How am I feeling? I’m looking forward to the adventure, I’m looking forward to the challenge, to this new lifestyle that awaits, a new way of travelling, to the people, the uniqueness of the African continent. I’m looking forward to working with the container, to meeting the people and being a part of the community in Katima Mulilo. Ok enough of my talking, it’s time to walk the walk.

Once again, a big thank you to everyone who has helped us get thus far!

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