Zambia: Sharing The Road
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):