Africa, first thoughts

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Thoughts from Livingstone Zambia, and the start of Leg 4 of African Spokes, with Jen Gurecki and James Savage of Savage Wilderness.

I have arrived in Livingston Zambia a few days before I am set to join Leg 4 of the 6 Leg cycling expedition called African Spokes.  The trip runs half the length of Africa, from Nairobi Kenya to Cape Town South Africa, crossing through 7 countries and over 6500 km in 68 days of riding on a range of road conditions you might expect in, well Africa.  Participants from around the world are joining in a leg or 2, and 6 hardly souls are riding the full 3 months.  I was still training indoors while the snow fell outside my home in Boston when the first group of riders set out towards the Masai Steppes in March, and the group will arrive in Cape Town in late May. 

Although my plan was to arrive a few days early to get sorted with warmer weather (ie no snow) and set up my bike for left hand riding (british roads) my bike is taking it's sweet time getting here with British Air, averaging one leg a day, so I am desperately hoping it arrives before the cyclists depart.

I will be working with Entrepreneur Magazine to photograph a story about ultimate Jen Gurecki running Coalition Snow while riding the whole route, the ultimate remote work scenario. Additionally I will work with Jen and James Savage of Savage Outfitters to ensure the trip is documented as this is a once in a lifetime venture that the two have organized. I am thrilled and terrified at the same time!

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My coworking spacemate, this guy often kept me company while I sat outside my room at the Waterfront Hotel doing final work before we set off on African Spokes Leg 4 from Livingstone, Zambia.

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Roz and I took a walking safari in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, right next to the hotel and campsite before we left town.  Walking up to a dazzle of zebra, wildebeest and Rhino mother and baby was a deeply moving way to start the trip.  And appropriately intimate to the animals.

Victoria Falls, called Mosi-oa-Tunya, smoke that thunders, is everything promised and more!  Hike down first to get sweaty and then across the bridge by the falls for your shower.

My much delayed bicycle finally arrived the day before departure and I was taking photos, thrilled to have it-and my trip-back on, when this super cheeky vervet monkey wandered over, then took off with some Bodyglide sunscreen, soon followed by two others when I went after the first. While they gnawed on these I moved the bike build indoors so I didn't lose any irreplaceable bike parts to the rest looking on for their handout.

After the briefing for our first day of leg 4, Day 36 or so, of African Spokes, Jen Gurecki and Coalition Snow Olympic Athlete, Roz Groenewoud, and I dashed to the falls for a shoot before we left at dawn the next morning.

Roz G, fresh off her second winter Olympics joined African Spokes for leg 4, 5 and 6, and is generally a badass, just like Jen, founder and CEO of Coalition Snow!

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Due to the late briefing we had to cycle topspeed back to camp before dark as there was "very large hippopotamus [that is] familiar to this area" and we didn't want to run into Africa's most lethal animal our first night.  Crocodiles were already a regular site around camp.

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This lovely praying mantis was one of many non biting, and biting, critters we would become very familiar with!  Still the most amazing was the walking stick bug that must have been at least 8 inches, too beautiful and amazing for words.

And so the first night of African Spokes began for me!