Zambia: Sharing The Road

Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

After getting an early start from Lusaka, our journey took a sour turn… into a ditch.

We awoke bright and early to start the five-hundred-some-odd kilometer route across the massive and wild country of Zambia. Moving at a good clip through the bustling capital, we had settled into a nice relaxed pace as the city sights and sounds pushed us along. The traffic and drivers were not nearly as bad as we had anticipated. Then, out of the blue, Gin’s drive side pedal met the hard edge of a concrete block that separated the pedestrian walkway and the two-lane Great East Road. She managed to get slung into a fairly large ditch and fortunately landed gracefully enough to have only a few scrapes and a bruise or two. Her trusty Surly Troll didn’t have the same luck. Everything was intact except the drive side crank arm. It was bent like a banana to about thirty degrees.

In the days just preceding the accident, I had noticed and studied a lot of the Zambian bicycles—Chinese steel, mass-fabricated, inexpensive numbers with double top-tubes, single chain rings and bolt on cranks. Most had some sort of reinforcement, decoration, or add-on made from sticks and branches. They are everywhere here. They are used for hauling loads (including live goats and chickens), commuting, farming, or anything else you could think of. Zambians are proud of their bikes. Especially the cabbies… pedicabbies that is. Their trusty steeds get decorated and customized with bells, mirrors, stickers, wire, beads, baskets, tape, ridiculous mudflaps… every and anything to attract attention.

With all of the bikes here, I thought to myself as I was staring at her crank arm, there have to be stocked bike shops. Well, as we found out, there are… kind of. After several men rushed over to help and make sure Gin was OK, we started asking where we could find the nearest bicycle repair. Luckily they pointed about two blocks West and we started walking. That was when we met Salamano. Here is the rest of the story in photos (more on our trek through Zambia in coming days, including some wildlife shots):

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

Salamano’s shingle. Salamano shown above with his shop. This is about the extent of shops here in the bustling capital.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

His parts department…

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

South wing of the parts department.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

Salamano didn’t have a crank extractor tool, so we went on a hunt and found this shop, which happened to have one… not a common tool in Zambia.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

Tools of the trade.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

For a bit I thought we’d have to order an extractor tool, but luckily there was one in one of the tin-roofed shack shops in town.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

Here is their parts department.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle shops in Lusaka

I didn’t think this was going to work, but once they pulled the crank, four men diligently went to work hammering it back to shape. A few whacks, then a conference analysis to compare it with the other crank arm. It turned out almost as good as new, and we were off.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

Bikes are used for everything here. In many cases, putting our loads to shame…

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

… like this.
Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles
Wooden rack struts.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

A motley crew.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

We stopped to help this family get their bike sorted. Our Leatherman plyers came in handy.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles camping

A campsite in a village that doubled as a parking area.

Bike Touring Zambia - Tanzania route

We started smelling the culture of Cairo to Cape Town cyclists. Here is a map we found in a backpacker lodge. My favorite note is ‘BAD SHITS/FEVER’.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle tourists

Within a couple of days I saw these folks tucking down a nice hill. Check out their blog at rothar-africa.tumblr.com. They are raising money for Doctors with out Borders; you can donate here Ammado.
Bike Touring Zambia

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles camping

Met these folks on the road. The gentleman on the bike was heading to a US funded HIV clinic… he thanked us.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

Cabbie culture.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycles

This cabbie had a nice ride.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Many have pretty sweet mud flaps.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Our bikes parked with others at a market.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Innovation in bottle cages.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Nice upholstery work for the passenger seat.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Another nice one.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Usually these cabs have several bells…

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

… and burly racks.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Wire is a common decoration as well.
Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs
Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs
Plenty of reflectors.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

First time I’ve seen a double down tube.

Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs

Another shop.
Bike Touring Zambia - Bicycle cabs
And then there is farming… goats, chickens, tobacco, corn, whatever.

Tags

  • SF_Rich

    Glad to hear that Gin is ok and that yall were able to get her rig back up and running. Safe trip guys!!

  • Paul Webster Dorr

    Beautiful writing with photos to match. Happy to hear that Gin was not injured. Keep up the good work.

  • Lars Henning

    Love the bike shop and pedicab photos! Glad you guys are back on the road safely!

  • DummyDiva

    Double downtubes; digatubes by Rivendell Bicycles in USA. Following every day. Glad no serious mishaps from the collision. Great photos! Thanks.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks! That’s the only one like it I have seen here… thanks for following!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Lars!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks for the well-wishes… and Gin thanks you for the concern!

  • july dogan

    So glad to hear that Ginny is all in one piece! As always, everything is breath-taking. Hurry home, though!!!

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...

Follow Us

and join the conversation.
art