Coming Home - Hope Ride 19

It’s 3:40 in the morning and I’m somewhere over the Atlantic on a northwest arc that will intersect Atlanta in about eight hours. I am in the dreaded middle seat, 29B, between two who sleep much better than I. Sleeping upright, is as unnatural as walking on your hands. My childhood prayers began, “now I lay me down… to sleep.” There is no laying down on Delta 201 except in first class, and even if I could afford the luxury I might feel a tinge of guilt sleeping horizontally as my team suffers the vertical indignities of the main cabin (only a tinge of guilt).

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A Few Thoughts - South Team - Hope Ride 19

A few thoughts before the final push.

Today we finish. But do we ever… finish? 

Thoughts, plans, and responsibilities have been pushing their way onto the stage of my consciousness since we began our southern trek three days ago. I’m already thinking well beyond this “finish” to so many things unfinished. There is no time ahead for a post-ride let down… life is a constant work in process, and hopefully, in progress.

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The South Team - Ride Two - Hope Ride 19

It’s another early morning breakfast before the sun rises in Pandamatenga - eggs, toast, bacon, and coffee - lots of coffee. I’ll pass seven hundred miles in eight days before the sun sets at Elephant Sands... I’m tired. My sunscreen is fired. My legs are burnt a reddish-brown tint that I haven’t seen since I was twelve years old spending a month on Lake Lucerne in Maine.

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REST - Day Nine - Hope Ride 19

Rest Day. The North and South Teams were up at 6:00 for breakfast followed by an expedition up the Zambesi for the elusive (at least for our team) tigerfish. In five years on the great river, we have caught zero of the snaggle-toothed monsters. Our host insists that the river boasts some of the best tiger fishing in the world and this year backed it up by hiring a guide for us. The guide was a wonderful man and we enjoyed him to the full but we are still talking about bites and lost lures at the end of the day – no tigerfish in the morning or late afternoon expeditions.

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The Difficulty Lies in the Terrain - Ride Six - Day Eight - Hope Ride 19

Tuesday: Our sixth riding day began with breakfast overlooking the Zambesi near Katima, Namibia. We racked the bikes and headed for the Zambian border with a reasonable expectation of clearing within an hour. Two hours later, with temperatures piercing the nineties, we passed through the gate onto Zambian soil and thus began the shortest portion of the journey, an eighty-mile test from Shesheke to Sioma.

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God’s Grace and a Little Help From Our Friends. - Ride Five - Day Seven - Hope Ride 19

Awakening in a tent in the Chobe Nature Preserve in Botswana takes the camper a couple of steps beyond KOA. Emerging from your canvas dome you look left and right, then all around to be certain that you are not going to startle an elephant coming in or out of the watering hole (not a good idea). The sun breaks the horizon and reaches its full rising in less than a minute. It’s going to be a hot day… and windy.

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Then Comes the Wind - Ride Three - Day Six - Hope Ride 19

A bitter wind greets us as we turn right out of the gate of our hotel. It’s blowing down the straight road ahead. I know this road. It will not turn and neither will the wind. It is relentless. 

Our progress is painfully slow. When the weather breaks after noontime, the wind turns from cold to hot. I can feel the sun and wind burning my face and hastening the aging process that I have encouraged by far too many days in the African sun with far too thin an application of sunscreen. 

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Good Vibrations - Ride Two - Day Five - Hope Ride 19

After yesterday’s sad post describing how my day ended in a ball of cramps, I thought it best to update you as to the efficacy of your prayers. Many of you prayed for me, and for us last night and today I suffered no ill effects on the bike and the team enjoyed a day that left us all smiling – in spite of a 90-minute border delay that interrupted he happy proceedings. 

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