The second part of my Malawi Diaries will cover our visit to YODEP Village Community Project and our next challenge – the 55k Zomba Plateau Ride (climbing over 6000ft!)
I am a (very) nervous cyclist, therefore I anticipated that this would be my biggest challenge of the three. However, this brutal mountain bike was tougher than I ever could have anticipated, both physically and mentally.
Much like the Mulanje Mountain run, the route was very technical and therefore tricky to navigate. There were two options for the cycle, 35k or 55k, and in my head I was always going to complete the shorter ride (which was still an ABSOLUTE beast.) However, upon approaching the 35k split (whilst gripping onto my handlebars so tightly that I was beginning to lose sensation in my fingers), I was encouraged by my wonderful teammates to go for the 55k.
My biggest cycling fear is riding downhill, and this was downhill like I had never seen it before; steep, rough terrain with large rocks, holes and various other obstacles. We cycled through forests, streams and picturesque waterfalls – the views were INCREDIBLE.
Although I wish I could say that I began to relax as the ride progressed, my honest feedback is that I felt anxious for approximately 90% of the Zomba Plateau challenge. Anxious is probably an understatement – I was sweating like a pregnant warthog.
However, it was an incredible experience, and I am very proud of everyone that completed it and so thankful for all the encouragement and words of wisdom from our fantastic guides. Despite my fear of the bike, this will not be the end of my cycling ‘career’ as I am far too stubborn/motivated/crazy to give up – plus, I’ve committed to take on my first triathlon next year!
Another highlight from my time in Malawi was our visit to YODEP Village Community Project.
YODEP (Youth for Development and Productivity) is a nonprofit community based organisation, established to help address socio-economic issues encountered by orphaned children, women and youth.
We received a very warm welcome upon our arrival at YODEP including allllll the singing, dancing, smiles and laughter.
A 5k run around the village really highlighted the strength and resilience of these amazing children – some ran in flip flops, some ran in odd shoes, and some ran in no shoes, but this most definitely did not stop them! These kids are SO fast and so talented, and with the right support and opportunities, could potentially go on to become world-class athletes.
This was another eye-opening experience, and one that I will never forget. It was a pleasure meeting the kids at YODEP, who not only displayed exceptional sporting talent, but were also so welcoming, curious and kind-hearted.
If you are interested in helping YODEP, please let me know and I can provide further info!