Steve's Cycling Blog

Squeaky, clicky, clanky and flatty (Stage 29)

Squeaky: it sounds like someone’s attached a cage of canaries to my front wheel – I think it’s the front wheel bearings that have got a bit dry, presumably as a result of their salt water bath last week
Clicky: Canadian Kevin’s bottom bracket’s been clicking intermittently for the last couple of weeks. Doug’s had it apart and reckons there’s nothing wrong with it, it just clicks.
Clanky: Mateo’s bottom bracket is definitely on the way out. Riding with him’s very like being on a train with a constant clickety-clack, clickety-clack as he rides.
Flatty: We’d barely set off this morning than Australian Kevin got a flat tyre. He was pretty annoyed as he’d been thinking he should have changed back to his much more puncture-resistant road tyres, but had been dissuaded by Doug / Max, and this was his second flat!

I’d slept well under my baobab last night. When we’d gone to bed there’d been some very public prayers over the mosque tannoy – apparently someone had died in the village, but I managed to get off to sleep all the same.

We were keen to get going this morning – it had got super hot yesterday afternoon, and we had significantly further to go today in what was forecast to be even hotter conditions. Kevin’s flat after only a few km slowed us down some, but luckily for him Kristin – who caries a track pump tied (with rope) to the carrier of her bike – stopped which made getting his huge off-road tyre pumped to a good pressure significantly easier than it would have been with a hand pump.

Initially there was a little cloud cover, but the sun was soon above that and it began heating up pretty quickly. There’s no shade on the road, but there are a few undulations to help with the interest factor. We rolled in to the 41km coke stop and about half the riders were all there – the guy who ran the place couldn’t believe his luck – I imagine he sold about a weeks work of soft drinks in under an hour!

There was more head wind than ideal – though the wind is blowing, it’s mostly beside us, which means there’s still a generated head wind slowing down some. That said, we averaged over 27km/h through to lunch, catching Mimi and Dave, and the Joe shortly before we got there.

For once lunch is ‘long’ – usually when they say ~75 it’s at the earlier end of things, but today it was all the way to 78km before we saw Jarid on the side of the road. The truck’s in between the road and a railway line, though looking at the tracks I don’t think anything’s run down that rail in quite some time!

Mateo was looking for a slower afternoon so didn’t join us as we left lunch, and Canadian Kevin and I were moving a bit quickly for Australian Kevin, so we split up, with us passing Trixie a little while later.

We’d determined to stop as often as there were opportunities – by the time we’d left lunch at around 11 it was already 36 in the shade, and out on the road it felt significantly hotter! We were just finishing drinks at the 96km coke stop when Kevin and Trixie road in.

Trixie’s not feeling so well, so she’s been enjoying sitting on Kevin’s wheel to help get through the afternoon.

Next stop was at 115km where we opted for ice-cold water instead of fizzy drink – I filled my camelbac which was great, though it soon began to warm back up. We saw Kevin and Trixie pass, and though I yelled they didn’t hear me – we saw them as we pulled out at a shop 100m further on.

From there to Tambacounda was a hard slog – my butt was feeling pretty worn after (essentially) four days off then three sweaty days in the saddle and it was so hot that you really only noticed you were sweating when you stopped – with the wind of riding the only evidence was the increasing amount of salt on your clothing.

We finally got to the turn-off for the camp and Kevin headed in there, while I continued in to town to find the post office in the hope of getting stamps for my postcards. In the end finding it was no problem – two huge signs, but then…

I asked the guy sitting on the steps what time the post office was open in my best French which surprisingly he understood – his response initially confused me – “Lundi” Oh bugger! Best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but I’d completely failed to account for the fact that it was now mid-afternoon on a Saturday. Sigh!

I traced my route back to camp. Officially we’re camped on the soccer field, however there’s a hotel right next door so there are some rooms there we can use for toilets / showers, and some people have opted for a room – I was tempted, but at €40 it seemed an unnecessary expense!

There were some trees near the hotel gate so I opted to put my tent under those – starting something of a trend, in the end about half of those camping set up there. We’d been warned that there was a disco at the hotel and that it might get a bit noisy, but I couldn’t see that 100m was going to make a lot of difference.

That’s me in the middle of the MSR tents!

I took a shower which after the long hot day was extremely welcome. I started by stepping in still in my riding kit – soaped that up, and rinsed off, then got undressed and repeated the process on the inside – it’s great to be able to get clothing washed after such a day.

From there I went and enjoyed a couple of beers in the air-conditioned hotel bar chatting with other riders. A number of people were also in the pool which was proving super popular.

Riders’ meeting and dinner have been brought forward to 1730 tonight as the sun’s setting earlier and we’ve been moving further east so it’s been dark by the time dinner’s finished recently which makes it hard to get dishes done and the kitchen packed away for the night.

The Kevins and I are now going to wander down to the service station at the corner to see if they have ice-cream for pudding – it’s still 34 in the shade, so anything cold is welcome.

View from my tent

How cool is this tree?

Selfie of the day

Riding data

Total distance: 144.56 kmTotal Time: 06:44:03
Max elevation: 65 mMin elevation: 13 m
Total climbing: 401 mTotal descent: -375 m
Average speed: 21.47 km/hMaximum speed: 55.44 km/h