Lusaka to Chipata – Climbing mountains with no gears; a beautiful spot on the Luangwa River and some man-down team members

There must have been something in the water at Lusaka as three of the Joburg2Kili team decided to have makeovers on our rest day; Cam got her hair braided, Warrick shaved his hair and Bryan decided spontaneously to cut off his beard. A big thanks to Lawrence and Michelle for having us all to stay in Lusaka for a much needed rest day.

Dam View Chalets (800x600)
Our setup at Dam View Chalets

It was time for us to head east towards what is probably one of the hardest weeks of cycling for this entire trip. Lawrence kindly lead us out of Lusaka via back roads in the morning as the traffic in Lusaka is apparently really bad so we avoided it completely which was great. We were then in for a long ride of 125km to get to a bush camping spot that is marked as Dam View Chalets on Tracks for Africa. We started to get a taste of what is like to ride up mountains on our single speed Qhubeka Buffalo bicycles on this leg and definitely felt the burn in our legs. Dam View Chalets is nothing like the title suggests but rather a pond situated by an orphanage where you can get permission to camp from the local boss.

Our next leg of our journey was a 110km ride to Bridge Camp which is situated on the Luangwa River and is a recommended stopover along the way to Chipata. Unfortunately, Derrick has been struggling with a cough and flu-like symptoms and in the first 40km of the ride he was feeling very flat and decided to rather call it a day and travel in the Jeep with Bobby. It definitely effects the whole team when someone is not well but Gareth, Warrick and Cam had to soldier onwards.

On this leg we hit the hardest and longest mountain climb to date. We were literally travelling around 7.5km/h at the steepest part of the climb which went upwards for 10km. For the rest of the ride the team had big rolling hills to contend with until reaching Bridge Camp which has a beautiful location looking over the Luangwa River where we had one rest day planned.

Entrance to Bridge Camp
Entrance to Bridge Camp

We had an issue with the plug point that controls the lights on the trailer and so Bryan decided to go back to Lusaka to get a part to fix it. We arranged with the local boss at Dam View Chalet to leave our trailer as it would not be safe to drive without the lights working. Bryan being the handyman he is managed to sort it all out with no problem and met us at Bridge Camp in the evening.

Getaway-magazine
August Getaway Magazine

We decided as it was such a hard day riding, Derrick not feeling very well and Bryan only arriving in the evening that it was worth having dinner at the restaurant. We were the only guests staying at the camp that night so we just chatted with the owner, William and had a chilled evening. William had also recently bought the Getaway magazine and we were very excited to see an article placed about us in it.

The next day we had a rest day which was definitely needed to get our team back to health as Derrick was still not feeling 100% and sadly, Bobby woke up feeling man-down so he just spent the day sleeping and resting up. The rest of the team spent the morning doing a few errands like sorting out our food crates and cleaning up around camp and then in the afternoon we enjoyed relaxing up by the pool area. For sun-downers we thought we would drive to find a spot where we could walk down to the river. On our way down to the river we were followed by a whole group of local children who just wanted to sit and watch us and dance a bit to our chilled music. Whilst chilling by the river we noticed a hippo pop up in the distance. The Luangwa River is actually the divide between Mozambique and Zambia in this area and we were very fascinated to watch a local row his Makora across the river to go fetch two people on the other side of the river in Mozambique with two bicycles.

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Johan leaving Bridge Camp on his journey up to Cairo

That evening at Bridge Camp we met Johan, who is a South African that is riding from Cape Agulhus to Cairo which has been his 40-year dream that has finally come true. He is doing the cycle unsupported with pannier bags and we wish him all the best with his journey. To follow him, check out his blog. 

The next day we decided to try out a shuttle service plan as we were warned against bush camping along the next stretch of road. This also meant that Bobby could stay behind at Bridge Camp for the day as he was still not feeling very well and would only have to come fetch us late in the afternoon. Derrick was feeling much better which was great to have him back on his Qhubeka bicycle; although he is still struggling a bit with a bad cough.

We had a very tough 120km mountainous ride ahead of us with a lot of headwind. The only good thing about the riding conditions was that the road just over the Luangwa Bridge has been re-tarred all the way to Chipata and is a beautiful smooth road. After riding close to 7 hours we reached the 120km mark and called it a day where Bobby met up with us so we had the two cars to load the bicycles on and drive back to Bridge Camp. Although the shuttle service plan in theory sounded great it meant we only got back to camp early evening and we all felt really exhausted.

The next leg was a 114km ride to a bush camping spot. We got up really early to get the cars packed and bicycles loaded so we could drive ahead 120km to the spot where we stopped the day before which was our start point. As soon as we got out the cars we were like celebrities as all the local children and adults from the village came out to greet us.

Crowds of kids gathered to check our bicycles and to chat to us before heading off for a 114km cycle
Crowds of kids gathered to check our bicycles and to chat to us before heading off on a 114km cycle to a bush camp

One thing we have all found really interesting over the past few days is that whilst riding past villages here in Zambia all the children come sprinting out of their homes shouting “How are you?” and waving to us. It is really special to see them and how just a simple wave back or saying “I am fine” brings big smiles to their faces. Sometimes there are up to 20 children shouting “How are you” and it almost sounds like a school war cry which is pretty amazing.

We had a really hectic headwind the whole day along this leg. The ride was up and down really big rolling hills for over 100km which was hard work after the previous day of mountain climbing without gears. There was also a 16km detour road that we managed to avoid and rode along the old tar road thankfully as the detour dirt road was very rutted. The team definitely took strain on the ride which was evident as no one was talking and our 20km stops were taking a lot longer than usual. Bryan went ahead to find a suitable bush camping spot and managed to arrange with a local school to let us set up camp for the night.

Today we had a 115km ride to Chipata where we are staying at Mama Rula’s Campsite. In the first 12km of the ride, Cam got two punctures in her back tyre which wasn’t ideal. The rest of the ride was better than expected but we still had a headwind to deal with. We are all very relieved to have a rest day tomorrow to give the legs a break from some tough riding over the past few days. We are now official over the halfway mark around 2400km into our journey and will be entering our next African country, Malawi on this adventure on Friday.

Gareth & Derrick’s Q&A with News24

Thanks so much to Louzel Lombard from Traveller 24 part of News24 for the Q&A session with our two cyclists, Gareth Pickering and Derrick Fourie, who bravely bungee jumped off Victoria Falls Bridge on Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles. To read more about why Gareth & Derrick joined the Joburg2Kili for Qhubeka Expedition and what the highlights and low-lights of the trip have been so far, please click here.

To watch the bungee cycle and find out more about how Gareth and Derrick have made history, please click here.

A week of meeting some incredible people on our journey from Livingstone to Lusaka

Since leaving Livingstone we have ridden over 500km in 5 days to get to Lusaka where we are now staying for a rest day at one of Gareth’s friends, Lawrence and Michelle, who have kindly let us stay with them for two nights.

Our journey up north to Lusaka has been an incredible experience with some really tough riding conditions but the highlight of the week has definitely been the generosity of the local farmers and people in Zambia who have welcomed us to stay with them along our way.

Marius&RochelleFarm

From Livingstone we had a windy, hot ride of about 100km to what was meant to be a night of bush camping but Bryan managed to go ahead and speak to a farmer in the area called Marius and his wife, Rochelle, who were very happy to have us to stay the night. In fact, they had read about Gareth and Derrick bungee cycling on News24. They were very kind to us and also put us in touch with another farmer, Tim, who was situated just outside Choma where we had planned to bush camp the following night after riding a further 100km.

Farmer Tim (800x600)
Farmer Tim who welcomed us to stay on his farm for the night

Tim took some of the team on a tour of his farm which was very interesting to learn more about farming in Zambia and how he spreads his risk by farming various things including tobacco, maize, cattle and sheep as well as black carrots which none of us had ever heard or seen before and sampled in one of our dinners. That night, Bryan ended up having to share his tent with Tim’s two big brown Labradors and a Jack Russel which was absolutely hilarious to see how determined the dogs were to sleep in his tent.

From Tim’s farm we had a long ride of 109km ahead of us to get to Moorings Campsite, which is just after a town called Monze. Riding through Monze we had sight of where riots had taken place by seeing the debris of burnt tyres left on the side of the roads. This we have learnt is as a result of the recent elections in Zambia which is believed to have been possibly rigged.

Whilst riding in Zambia we have all been so impressed to see how bicycles are a part of most people’s lives here to help them get around, carry things as well as to transport children. We have spoken to a few of the cyclists along the way who have all been so friendly. One local cyclist called Donald rode with us all the way to Monze and even took on Warrick in a short sprint off. He also believes Cam is his daughter as she is born in the same year as his actual daughter.

Gareth riding with a local called Donald who chatted to us on the road
Gareth riding with a local called Donald who chatted to us on the road

From Moorings Campsite we rode 96km to a location that was marked off for a bush camp just outside the town of Mazabuka. This was probably one of the toughest rides of our whole journey as we had a 30km/h headwind for most of the way along with rolling hills and the road surface was no longer smooth but rutted and had many potholes.

The Beukes Family who kindly let us stay at their place just past Mazabuka
The Beukes Family who kindly let us stay at their place just past Mazabuka

We were very lucky though as Bryan’s dad has been working with a guy called Johan Beukes who lives in the area who kindly welcomed us to come stay with him, his Italian wife Paola and their two adorable kids, Luke and Giovanni. Johan and Bryan met us along the road and drove behind us for the last 16km before we called it a day and packed the bicycles on the Jeep and Johan’s car to go through to his farm. Johan and his family live in an amazing location surrounded by farmland and Baobabs in the area. It has a very colonial feel and they even have a polo field down the road. Johan and his family really spoilt us with a three course dinner which was the best meal of our trip so far especially the delicious strawberry risotto starter. We couldn’t be more grateful to them for being so welcoming and looking after us all.

Paola has her own business called Essential, which is a natural skincare brand of products that she started to make as a hobby but has now blossomed into a successful business. Cam is super happy to have some of her products to use for the rest of our trip. Find out more about her amazing skincare range by visiting www.essential-zambia.com.

Cam giving out some toys to some local Zambian kids on the side of the road.
Cam giving out some toys to some local Zambian kids on the side of the road.

After having some banana bread and apple tart for breakfast compliments of the Beukes family, we got transported back to the main road to start our cycle leg up to Lusaka. The weather had changed overnight and it was cloudy and extremely windy which meant we were in for a very tough day again on our bicycles. The first 20km of the ride included one of the steepest hills we have ridden so far on this adventure and adding a headwind made it even more challenging. The rest of the ride was a constant pull up towards Lusaka.

Whilst riding we came across a small group of children on the side of the road so we decided to stop to give out some toys that we had from Mattel to giveaway along our journey. At first the children seemed very apprehensive and almost ran away from us but as soon as Cam started showing them how the bubble wand worked they all started to smile and laugh. They couldn’t speak any English but kept speaking in their local language so we not sure what they were saying but it sounded like they were very happy and grateful.

We eventually got to Lusaka to Gareth’s friends place where we are staying for one rest day. Bryan’s parents and his sister also drove down from Chingola to meet us all here in Lusaka. They came through for a braai last night which was really great to finally meet them and to catch up on our incredible journey so far.

Dinner last night at Lawrence and Michelle's place in Lusaka with Bryan's family as well
Dinner last night at Lawrence and Michelle’s place with Bryan’s family too

Joburg2Kili cyclists bungee jump off Victoria Falls Bridge with Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles

The Joburg2Kili team have made it to Livingstone in Zambia where we are now spending two rest days to allow us to take advantage of all the great activities on offer in the area.

Whilst enjoying our rest day yesterday, the two cyclists, Derrick Fourie and Gareth Pickering, decided to take on a seemingly impossible challenge to bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge with their Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles. Thanks so much to Shearwater Bungee for helping to make history! As far as we know they are the first people to ever bungee jump off a bridge on a single-speed, rigid, 20+kg bicycle! Check out these two videos of how it all went down:

Both Warrick Kernes (cyclist) & the team mascot Barney and Bobby Fuller (support crew member) also bungee jumped but with no bicycles.

First 3 days riding in Botswana; A few aches and pains and our first set of punctures

After a much-needed rest day staying at Kwa Nokeng Campsite, it was time to hit the roads of Botswana on our Buffalo Qhubeka bikes. It was one of the coldest mornings (around 3degrees) we have had so far and we all felt a little under-dressed in our Joburg2Kili Tarsus cycle kits as we headed out for a 114km ride to Itumela Campsite in Palapye but it shortly warmed up very quickly.

Derrick has been struggling the past few days with a sore knee. We were all hoping the rest day would help sort it out but unfortunately as we started to ride he decided he was going to rather get into the Jeep and go through to Palapye with Bobby to try see a doctor about it.

It has been really great having two support vehicles as it has allowed us to send one ahead to go setup camp and/or do some shopping for food. The other vehicle would then sit behind us to warn traffic that there are cyclists ahead and to also allow us to stop and stretch the legs, refill our water bottles, reapply STUF sunblock and grab a few extra snacks.

tarsus-kit

Warrick, Cam and Gareth worked as a team taking turns at riding at the front as we enjoyed riding on the relatively flat and smooth Botswanan roads. Although our average pace was much higher than the past few days, sitting around 23km/h, we were all finding that we were really uncomfortable on our saddles but we just had to keep peddling on. We finally made it to Itumela Campsite where we found Bobby and Derrick who had already setup our campsite.

Derrick managed to see a local doctor in Palaype who was extremely helpful and was able to give him an injection for the pain, strap his knee and give him some medication to hopefully help get him back on the bike again soon.

Bryan helped sort out new sim cards for us all so we can all be connected whilst we are here in Botswana and can keep our supporters updated on our progress. Luckily it was a really easy process and we are all up and running on our devices.

resting-side-roadYesterday we had a relatively easy 82km ride from Palapye to Serule. Derrick’s knee was feeling much better so it was great to have him back on the bike again. We were riding on the A1 main road to Serule and were really pleased to see that there was a side road where we could ride and avoid the traffic. This also meant that Bobby and Bryan could go ahead and didn’t have to follow us the whole time. Other than that we had a bit of headwind but it was not too difficult a day on the bike.

Bryan went ahead to find Jaera Guest House which was a place we were told about by some local Botswanans at Itumela Campsite. He managed to find the place but it was really basic so we ended up all sleeping in our tents within their parking lot but it was much safer than staying in a bush camp on the side of the road.

Today we had just over 100km ride to Woodlands Campsite just outside Francistown. We had a very eventful ride as Warrick got the first puncture of the trip. Shortly after patching up his tyre, Cam then got a flat tyre too. Unfortunately, the repair patches were not holding properly and so both tyres ended up getting flat again. We eventually managed to find Cheetah Tyre Services who very kindly helped us out with better tyre patches. A big shout out to Gareth for all his help changing the Kernes’ tyres over 4 times today.

The ride ended on a bit of a low note though as we had just over 10km of rutted, dirt road to get to the campsite and all the cyclists were taking strain. But thankfully the Woodlands Campsite is very decent and after having a shower and taking some time to just sit and relax everyone’s spirits are up again.

A breeze of a ride, some unexpected luxury for the night & the long ride to Botswana

After a really tough ride on day 2 from Buffelspoort to Bakgatla Resort we were all praying for a wind-free day out on the bike. We left Bakgatla a little later than we would have liked to as some of the crew decided to go out for a quick morning game drive in Pilansberg Game Reserve with Alasdair (Cam’s brother who joined us for a night of camping) before getting packed up and ready to ride.

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Leaving Bakgatla Resort in our Jeep Kit

Day 3 ride was 96km from Bakgatla Resort to Marakele National Park which is just past Thabazimbi. The ride went well for us as we had a tailwind for most of the way and the route was relatively flat or downhill. We have also noticed that it is definitely getting hotter as we go north making it essential for us to stop frequently to fill up our water bottles along the way. We arrived at Marakele mid-afternoon and settled into camp for the night. The campsite had quite a few ostriches hanging around hoping to find a quick snack but luckily they weren’t aggressive when we shooed them away.

Marakele
Marakele National Park

Yesterday we had a 98km ride ahead of us so we got up earlier than the past few mornings to get out on the road around 8am. We had not realised that the road we needed to take to get to the main road to Laphalale was in fact a dirt road of 30km. At first it was very rutted and we all feared we were in for a tough day ahead but luckily the road improved and became smoother the further we got to the main road. The scenery around us was really spectacular with amazing cliff faces and bushveld which made it all worthwhile. Marakele is definitely a place we will be visiting again in the future to explore it more next time.

Once we hit the main road it was just long rolling hills ahead of us with bushveld on either side of the road. We must have seen at least twenty warthogs along the road as well as sable and kudu which was great.

Bryan had driven ahead to Laphalale in the Ford to get supplies and to sort out a campsite but it so happened that the campsite we planned to stay at was fully booked. He then called a few other places who also were booked up probably due to the public holiday tomorrow for Voters day but eventually he got hold of a place called Marulasfontein Game Ranch. By the time Bryan had informed us of the change of plan in where we were staying we had in fact ridden 10km past the place.We were all very bleak that we had to turn around to cycle back but it was all worthwhile as the kind people at Marulasfontein Game Ranch let us stay in their beautiful luxury lodge so we didn’t have to setup camp for the night – What a treat to sleep in a bed for a night (it’s the small things that you take for granted). Marulasfontein also has two sweet Jack Russells’ who enjoyed spending time with us around the boma fireplace which Cam especially loved.

We all had a really good night’s rest but had to be up at dawn this morning to be able to get on the road as early as possible as we had a long day ahead of us to get to the Botswana border post Martin’s Drift (Grobler’s Bridge on the SA side). As Marulasfontein was 20km further than where we originally planned to stay, it turned out that we had to ride 130km today so we needed to really push hard. For the first 50km we had a bit of a headwind so we were riding in single file most of the way. We have also noticed it is definitely getting hotter as we go north and so our STUF sunblock has been a lifesaver to protect us. We all had to really dig deep today to get to the border post but we made it in just over 6.5hrs.

Crossing the Limpopo River at the Border Crossing into Botswana
Crossing the Limpopo River at the Border Crossing into Botswana

It was such a special moment for us all to have finally reached our first neighbouring country Botswana on this Joburg2Kili adventure. Tonight we are staying at Kwa nokeng, which is a campsite on the Limpopo river right by the border post. We have a rest day tomorrow which is much needed after over 500km of riding in the past 5 days.

Joburg2Kili for Qhubeka (powered by Tarsus) has begun – A Quick Update on our first 2 days

Our send off yesterday was absolutely amazing and we are so grateful for everyone that came to support us. Jeep kindly let us start our journey from their Fourways dealership where we were greeted by friends, family, sponsors and fellow cyclists who rode a portion of our first day with us. We were led out by ER24 and had a convoy of Jeeps follow us out the dealership which created an awesome atmosphere.

We then rode out past Lanseria Airport to Stornoway Lodge where they had setup a water/coffee stop for more of our supporters that came to wave us goodbye. After a short stop most of the cyclists that joined us left and then reality set in as there were just five cyclists left – the four Joburg2Kili cyclists plus a supporter, Deon Bester, who rode with us the whole way to ATKV Buffelspoort along with his wife, Sonja who followed in her car – thanks so much Deon & Sonja for the support!

The rest of the ride was quite tough as we had a fair amount of climbing until just past Harties where it flattened out. We had a quick stop off at the Steers on the N14 to get our energy levels back up and then rolled into camp mid-afternoon. Our total distance for our first day was 100.8km which took us 5hrs27 in ride time. We were all pretty exhausted from an awesome first day of our Joburg2KIli journey.

This morning was quite a slow start to pack up but I think we will be pro’s at packing up camp in a few days time. We were very grateful to have Anthony and Giovanni from Qhubeka come through to see us off this morning which really gave us much needed motivation for a tough day on the bike.

The first half of the ride included 18km along a rutted dirt rode which was brutal on our bodies. We then hit the tar rode to Sun City and thought things could only get better but unfortunately the wind picked up making the last 50km of our ride really hard but thank goodness we had Racefood Farbars to keep our energy up. We were all very happy to roll into Bakgatla Resort in Pilansberg this afternoon which is where we are spending the night. Our total distance today was 86.58km which took us 5hrs34 in ride time so longer than yesterday due to the wind.

Tomorrow we off to Marakele which is a 93km ride – please help pray for no headwinds!

INTERVIEW WITH SIMON HILL ON THE SPORTS CAGE ON HOT 91.9 FM [PODCAST]

Joburg2Kili expedition cyclist, Gareth Pickering was recently interviewed by Simon Hill (@saltysnollie) on the Hot 91.9FM “The Sports Cage” show.

Thank you to Hot 91.9FM for sharing our expedition with your listeners. If you missed out on the interview, you can listen by clicking on the link below (courtesy of Newsclip):

Joburg2Kili featured on Sam Cowen’s 702/Cape Talk Radio Show

This past weekend we were very excited to have the Joburg2Kili expedition mentioned on Sam Cowen’s Weekend Breakfast Show on 702 Talk Radio and CapeTalk. David Katz (@MrActiveSA) who is a freelance journalist/producer and health & fitness coach chatted to Sam Cowen about the expedition, climbing Kilimanjaro and most importantly about our chosen charity Qhubeka. If you missed out on the discussion, you can listen to it by clicking on the link below (courtesy of Newsclip):