Posted by: Dana | 2010/05/03

May 2 – Sweet Payoffs in Namibia

We are now enjoying the sweet payback from the many monotonous miles of last week with the most gorgeous, breath-taking, absolutely awe-inspiring sites of the Namib Desert in Namibia. Today was one of those rare days when I got to the end of the ride and didn’t want it to end. Our ride today reminded me of why I’m here and why I love traveling by bicycle. The sun finally came out and we rode under blue skies with a bright sun and a full moon both visible in the sky.

Our journey from Windhoek has taken us southwest to the small town of Solitaire, an aptly named settlement of a few buildings, where we spent last night. The ride yesterday, just as spectacular as today, took us up and over Spreetshoogle Pass in the Naukluft Mountains. Before the pass, the ride was scenic―beautiful desert landscapes with scrubby bushes and dry grasses lining the roads and mountains in the distance. But, once we crested the Pass, we had our first view of a giant expanse of mountainous desert, and quite honestly, it took my breath away. We had climbed for 15 or so kilometers to get up to the Pass and then, in an instant, you turn a corner and climb the final few meters, and suddenly it feels like you are on top of the world.

It had rained intermittently all morning. As I began the steep descent down the rocky and sandy roads, the gray clouds swirled and darkened and bolts of lightening fired all around me. One one-thousand, two-one thousand, I counted the seconds between the lightening from the sounds of the thunder and knew the storm was quickly approaching. So I continued my descent to get off the peak before the worst of the rains came. The roads were so steep that our TDA trucks had to travel an alternate route. I even had to walk my bike, for short sections, because the gradient was so steep, it was scary to go down on the bike. It was a white knuckle and wet ride to the bottom, but it was so much fun!

There are no villages along this road and no development, with the exception of an occasional traveler’s lodge. These lands are to arid and too dry for cultivation―though, with our arrival, we have ushered in rains to the likes that this region hasn’t seen in decades (literally)! On the ride today, I spotted six giraffes and a bunch of springbok, gazelle-like animals (also similar to the gemsbok I ate at Joe’s restaurant a few nights ago!) but didn’t see the roaming ostriches that other riders spotted.

Today was also memorable for being the Naked Mile. The name says it all, really. It’s a TDA tradition. When I arrived at the lunch stop, three guys were disrobing, jumping on their bikes, and heading down the road. Others followed. I didn’t feel particularly inspired to participate, given that the lunch spot was dominated with men while I was there. But, I did laugh hysterically when the the most unsuspecting and unassuming Norweigan woman, Hilde, stripped down and joined the nude caravan. Later, I learned that three female friends took their own turn on the Naked Mile, only to be derailed with a flat tire!! Yes, they changed the flat while totally naked on the side of the desert road (and there are pictures to prove it).

Now we are in Sossusvlei, Namibia’s most famous attraction, for its magnificent sand dunes, part of the 32,000 square kilometers sand desert that covers much of western Namibia. I plan to watch the sun rise over the dunes tomorrow morning, which means we’ll be leaving the camp site at 4:30AM. The dunes are part of the oldest and driest ecosystem on earth (which makes all of this rain we’ve experienced even more baffling). It should be an exciting morning in the dunes and one of the great highlights of southern Africa. For now, I’m going to grab dinner and head to bed as early as possible to be ready for our 4AM wake-up.


  1. Nice work, D-keep up the energy, enthusiasm and effervescence.

  2. so you didn´t participate in the naked mile

  3. Dana,
    Your accounts continue to be extremely inspirational and to have mention of the journey’s end in your post…is somewhat surreal, as the ride seemingly continues on adventurously forever! Our pride and awe is indescribable and we’re so very pleased for all you’ve done to elevate your/our cause of melanoma – in such an extraordinarily unique and life-changing way (for us all)!!! Keep up the GREAT job! Greg

  4. Hi Dana,

    I have been following your progress all along but I haven’t put up many responses. Your writing an account of you sensational trip has the ingredients for a best-selling book.

    I am glad you are feeling better. I was very concerned when Mom told me what you went through.

    When is your ETA in South Africa? Are you guys on the schedule they originally calculated.

    Our new house is coming along great. Mom and Dad got to see it on the way back to Conn. Can’t wait for you to come down and visit when you get back.

    Good luck on the balance of your trip.

    We love you,
    Marvin and Donna

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