It has become habit now - an early start and today a great hot breakfast at the Hotel Woodlands and then we were escorted out of town and off to Tshikapa on a road advised by Jean de Dieu (translated means Jean of God) a WHO doctor. We quickly got onto a 50m wide road and were clipping along traveling effectively away from our destination most of the time - much to the consternation of some of the boyz! We were following Jean’s directions that he had sketched out on a piece of paper which were pretty accurate.
After about 140km we came to a crossroad and after checking with the locals, were able to confirm it was the road, or in fact not a road but a track and after a break off we set again. The road or track slowly deteriorated and the sandy patches came thick and fast - the team really lifted their game and started riding the sand. We took things in our stride - managing our bikes and the vehicles across broken bridges - driving through rivers but progressively things go tougher and tougher and the pace slowed! We were chasing time and despite the great riding, we started to lose the fight with the sun as it dipped into the horizon.
And then, the “sting in the tail”! As the sun set, the road worsened even more and the easy “chicken runs” along the side disappeared! You had to take on the sand and, at times, it was half a metre thick. And then it was dark and fatigue started to set in. Mark, in the lead, started to fall and so did other members of the team. We racked up 21 pink duct tapes today - Mark - 10; Quinton - 4; Charles - 4; Paul - 2 and Rob one earlier in the day until he switched with Matesso and got into the land cruiser.
It was a very challenging day and required real determination to get to the end - the whole team worked together - at the end the boyz were there to pick up Mark’s bike, wipe the sand off his face, wait for him to get back on and off we would go again, ploughing through the sand.
It was hectic and slow. The land cruisers also faced real challenges and it’s amazing how they got through rivers and over broken bridges - this place is wild!
We eventually arrived at the outskirts Tshikapa and were escorted to the Paridis Hotel - no resemblance at all to the name apart from cold beers!! They had rented out some of our rooms and so we were forced to double up! We were served the customary Congo dinner - roadkill chicken, tough beef cubes, rice, chips and plantaine!! The Kasai people seemed different to the rest of DRC - not friendly, generally angry with life and always wanting money! - not that we gave them any as it is against our principles!!
But wine (supplied by the Randgold team) was served, which helped! Tomorrow’s ride, estimated to be 360km, is another unknown apart from the last 60km which is rumoured to be tar!!
Should you wish to make a donation to the Nos Vies en Partage Fundraising drive then please click here