Day 2 of Transaid’s Cycle Zambia Challenge

I’m sitting by the fire in our campsite in Mazabuka having survived Day 2 of the trip and Day 1 of the cycling. It was hot. It was rough and dusty but we all got here.

We started with a bus transfer to get us out of Lusaka, and then started with 20km of tarmac road with the normal African challenges of no hard shoulder, trucks and busses rambling past as you over take a goat. Our route snaked up some hills (I love hills) where we had been warned there was likely to be a broken-down truck. There was, just by a bend, which we had to gingerly get past. It is not just the state of the roads and the lack of consistent driver training that makes African roads dangerous, but also the state of the vehicles and the mix of vulnerable road users with trucks and busses.                                                                      

After a break we turned off and most of the rest of the day was a 48km of a challenging mix of corrugated dirt road with sand and stony patches. There were even sections where the road was covered with molasses from the sugar cane that grows locally. It turns out that black molasses is an excellent surface for reflecting the heat back into your face as you cycle along! All along the road there were kids who came and waved at us and sometimes asked for a photo.                                                                                                                                          

Although we found the road surface a challenge, roads like these are a lifeline for rural communities and there are still millions of people who live more than 2km from even a dirt road. Without a road you cannot get your crops to market, access jobs or get to a health clinic when your family need it. The UN has a Sustainable Development Goal of everyone having access to a rural road that is no more than 2km away from them by 2030. Transaid is currently working on a DFID funded Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP) project, capturing the views of experienced rural access experts across the world. The interviews are exploring successful solutions to common problems and looking at how technology and climate change might influence rural road access. All the learnings will be freely accessible on both ReCAPs website and Transaid’s Knowledge bank.

The funds from Cycle Zambia will help Transaid continue to support road safety and rural access initiatives and pilot new approaches to some of these difficult but important challenges. You can support by making a donation on http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/JoGodsmarkZambia.

To those who have already supported myself and other cyclists, including my generous sponsors below, thank you!