The Lunch Truck
To call it the ‘Lunch Truck’ is a bit of a misnomer as much of the time, the meal being served as lunch takes place at around 09:00, the inevitable result of the cyclists setting of at the ungodly hour of 06:00. Never the less, the sight of this 4 ton vehicle always brings a smile to the faces of the approaching riders, either due to a hunger worked up over 60-80kms of cycling or a desire to hop aboard and skip the afternoon ride.
And as every ‘ship’ deserves a worthy captain, the ‘African Lunchbox’, as it is affectionately known is piloted along our treacherous route by the irrepressible, Noah. A friendly Zimbabwean who has returned for his second tour of duty with TDA, Noah runs the lunch truck with a velvet glove that contains an iron fist, when required. Every item, be it a bowl, a spatula or a piece of fruit, has its place and heaven help those who do not follow the rules…as I personally discovered one morning, hoping into the cab of the ‘Lunch Box’ with a steaming cup of coffee. Will not happen again, Captain.
As a result the lunch process runs like a well-oiled machine, not an easy task with 80 or so hungry cyclists bearing down on you. Everyone helps out – the staff assigned to the vehicle as well as any riders who have chosen to skip the morning ride and start their day from the lunch stop. Tarps are pulled out from the roof, supplies are off-loaded from the storage lockers, camp chairs are set up in the grass and the Captain oversees it all. Sausages are to be sliced just so. Cabbage grated for the coleslaw. Cheese limited to the vegetarians. Oranges quartered. All like clockwork.
The riders arrive in groups or singly and help themselves to the day’s offerings. They sit and chat with each other or joke with the staff about the morning’s ride. Noah is serious about making sure the riders have a wide variety of choices. Cyclists will combine just about anything in their sandwiches – tuna, eggs, peppers, vegemite, peanut butter, coleslaw, left-over pasta –it all goes together between the slices.
Then they are filling their bottles and camelbaks with water and energy drink and hoping back on their bikes for the rest of the day’s journey. And always with a hearty ‘Thank You’ to the captain and his crew for a job well done. As soon as the last cyclist departs, the ‘African Lunchbox’ is quickly and efficiently packed up and heads to camp to prepare for yet another day on the high seas of the TDA.