A hangover and two hours sleep is not the best preparation for cycling out of an African city. I kindly let Hiromu lead the way while I tried not to collide with the bumper-to-bumper traffic. There is a certain technique for coping in this urban madness – the weaving between narrow gaps and the holding of one’s position on the road when large vehicles want to squeeze past. After a while it becomes easy, but the risks are always there.

It was cold coke o-clock by the time the last remnants of urban sprawl gave way to jungle. As with Cameroon’s beer I highly approve of the 650ml bottles Coca Cola comes in here. Why I need to be asked whether I want it cold or not though I have no idea. Who in their right mind is going to ask for a warm drink in this heat?

We headed east on one of the best roads I’ve found myself on in Africa – smoothly tarred with a fraction of the traffic that existed between Douala and Yaounde. Bliss. Do I have a Chinese road construction crew to thank for this? Probably. There are a lot of Chinese in Cameroon, not that one really meets any of them. They seem to hide away, doing business secretly and efficiently. A bit like snakes, until they reveal themselves on the road.

Fresh roadkill

Out in the jungle I feel I ought to see a lot of wildlife. Well most of the sensible creatures stay away from the road.  But if you stop to look there is plenty to see. Birds and butterflies dart across the road in a flashing display of colourful brilliance. Then there are smaller and slower moving creatures,  like these sociable and colourful crickets I interrupted for twenty minutes whilst playing with the macro-function of my camera.

Crickets in love

For the next 300km this perfect black ribbon of a road continued through the lush tropical greenery, interspersed by the odd truck-stop town. Then came the pot holes, the gravel and the dirt. Well it might as well start now. I’m guessing that from the town of Bertoua, where we are now, any tarmac for the next few thousand kilometres and more between here and east Africa will come as a bonus.

Jungle rider

Logging truck

Hiromu is currently outside attempting to fix his front rack. One of the brackets attaching it to the forks first broke while bumping along a terrible road in Nigeria. It’s been welded back and re-welded twice again to the point where there is very little strength left. So some chap cut a new piece of metal (by hammer and chisel!) in a welders yard this morning. It might hold across the Congo, but I feel something else may fall apart.

Broken rack