Can you really experience the culture of a country while racing through it? Kristi Stump finds herself pondering such things, when perhaps she should be concentrating on not crashing.
Words Kristi Stump Photography Steffen Schraegle
Shortly after the first feed station, I passed my teammate as he’d stopped for the hundredth time to take photographs. I dropped into a steep, sketchy singletrack, realising immediately that I’d forgotten to unlock my suspension after the last road section. But I was already on the first big rock ledge and it was too late for adjustments. I ungracefully threw my weight back just enough and just in time, yelling ‘big drop!’ to Steffen. A few seconds later I heard that terrible sound of bike metal scraping across rock and started praying to the African gods that my partner was still in one piece. I ran back up the trail and was relieved to find him standing, but, strangely, taking off his outer shorts. “Are you OK?” “Yeah, yeah, all fine. But these baggy shorts have to die – they keep getting caught on my seat.” Meanwhile blood was dripping down his chin, so I asked him to show me his teeth. He smiled widely – fortunately teeth were all intact, but his chin opened up like a crevasse. “Don’t do that again,” I said, and started digging through our first aid kit. Chins are almost impossible to bandage, especially with four-day stubble, but I did my best, grateful that this was seemingly the extent of his injuries. He straightened his handlebars, did a quick brake check, and we were rolling again.
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