Wednesday 16th August – Day Eleven – Chalinze to Dar Es Salaam
Despite probably needing a good sleep more than at any point in the ride so far, we only managed a few hours and got up at 5.30am, ready to get on the road at 6.30am.
The 65 miles to Dar Es Salaam – the biggest city in Tanzania – was timed to avoid rush hour and its notoriously bad traffic.
Bodies and minds were getting tired – 11 days cycling is tough going – but the support we have been receiving at home and here has been more than we could have ever anticipated and it has genuinely driven us on.
Sam in the UK office had kindly emailed over messages of support from donors, which we shared over breakfast for some last-minute motivation.
The terrain was markedly flatter than the previous four days, though somewhat more so than Francis’s tongue-in-cheek prediction of “just two hills”, which fell on deaf (and tired) ears.
As the miles clocked up, we passed the magic milestone of 700 miles – though not before a slightly predictable torrential downpour of rain, which seemed fitting for such a rollercoaster 11 days.
Whilst I confess it felt a little strange not to pass a finishing line or chequered flag, there was a palpable sense of relief and achievement as the watch confirmed we had accomplished what has been almost exactly a year in the making and there were cheers and hugs all round.
None of the team has ever taken part in such a challenge – and may never again – and I have to say it’s been one of the most testing, rewarding things I’ve ever done. To know that we have raised so much money for a cause that is so close to me personally and having shared the whole experience with two old friends and two new ones, will stay with me for a long time.
More importantly, we have raised enough money to complete the full construction of The Walk Centre’s primary school, which will open its doors next month to a new intake of children, providing a completely free education to some of the most vulnerable young people in Nakuru.
To those of you who have donated, on behalf of The Big Bike Ride team, thank you.
We are taking what I think is a well-deserved few days off to relax in Zanzibar with a couple of beers. Though writing this on the ferry to Zanzibar, there is an idea floating around that we might hire some bikes to go and explore whilst we are there…