Close encounters of the Giant Kind

Posted: September 4, 2012 in Travel and Adventure writing

Hello Ellie,

It is not every day that you fall flat on your face five meters from an elephant bull flapping his huge ears at you.

We were cycling the first 75km of our day’s 110km route close to Maun, in Botswana, when we spotted an elephant in the road. The group decided to stop to take pics and ooh and aah… And in my excitement I forgot to unclip my shoes from the pedal clip thingies and I went crashing down sideways in a very ungraceful sideways clang.  Ever happen to you? It is so avoidable and hugely embarrassing. You just go slomo and you are entirely helpless as your brain is not connected to your feet at this point. Fortunately the elephant was the main attraction. Aris, a kind Dutchman, unclipped my feet as I lay flaying about in the dirt, like a mosquito that had swallowed a paperclip, with this steel contraption firmly attached to my oddly bent feet.  My cheek popped up like a tent, I had a impressive gash on my arm and monster bruises on my shoulder and legs but all I remember is the roadmaps on his giant face.

Elephants in the Zambezi river – photo by Theresa Brown

Hannie and Marius chose to crash into the bush next to the road rather than colliding with a truck coming straight at them. They are shaken but unscathed. After lunch the straight, flat road became a nasty ordeal due to a strong headwind. Dutch rider, Andre had to take two naps during this time to deal with it. In his words, “If what you are doing is no longer fun, stop and do something else for a while”. Eating copious amounts of ice- cream, drinking beer, and sleeping, rate as good alternatives to cycling for most of the guys. Staying at the Nata Lodge is a surreal fantasy. It has cozy, thatched-roof lodges, hot showers, a pool with a large fountain and an uninterrupted stream of Abba’s best hits playing from the open-air bar. After a wholesome dinner of sausages with samp and beans some of the more affluent cyclists took dessert on the terrace of the restaurant overlooking the pool. At $100 a night for the cottages most of us will be pitching our tents…. Excerpt from my bicycle adventure


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