So, who wants to play Eureka Ball? - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

November 29, 2018

So, who wants to play Eureka Ball?

Cafe Ojo Liebre to desert camp

I woke up early, snuck out of the tent, and sat with the dogs on the terrace for a while, waiting for the rest of the world to awaken. The daylight grew and after a while my companions all came and joined me and we ate breakfast together. With none of us having much Spanish between us I thought it might not be a bad idea to put on an episode of the Pimsler Language Course, and "encantado" (nice to meet you) was added to our vocabulary before everybody walked away.

My hopes that we might all cycle off together in one happy group were soon dashed. Erica and Cristina wanted to go off into town to get water, while Michel was being extremely slow about getting ready. "I'm very fast," he said, "I'll catch you up." All of which meant that it was only Harvey that cycled with Dea and I away from the cafe, and we lost him when I stopped to take a photo of some vultures.

A photo of some vultures.
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Funny thing about Harvey, he's got no head.
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Fortunately we caught up with the Frenchman when he stopped to check something on his bike. Then after 20 kilometres Dea and I insisted we stop for our first break of the day, and we sat down in the dust. It wasn't long before Erica and Cristina, now stocked up with water, came along. They hesitated for a moment, possibly because they felt like the day had only just started and it was a bit early for a break, or possibly because they don't usually sit in the dust, but they did join us. I was glad they did, because they demonstrated a terrific homemade snack involving cookies, peanut butter, and bananas.

Cristina and her terrific snack.
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Harvey and Cristina cycle off again.
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Yay, cycling together at last! (sort of)
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Well the road had no shoulder and had got busier since Guerrero Negro, so it wasn't really a great place to cycle together chatting anyway. Erica and Cristina, who, when they're not cycling, work as cycle tour guides, cycling, were very fast and disappeared off ahead of us, and it wasn't long before Michel came shooting past and off into the distance too. Well, there was a tremendous tailwind, and we lost track of Harvey somewhere too.

Despite all of this we somehow managed to come together in the town of El Marasal, where we ate ice cream and bought a few groceries. 

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Here we are all of us together. Apart from Harvey, we lost him again somewhere.
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Many of the cyclists we'd met out here had been saying that they had not been doing much in the way of desert camping, but Dea and I had been talking up the advantages, and it seemed everyone was happy to go out of town and spend the night together in the desert. This was a little bit difficult to arrange, however, because Harvey had disappeared and Michel had now also sprinted off, and I was going extremely slowly because I'd got scared of the road and was trying to cycle in some sandy tracks next to it. But by some small miracle, and a little bit of patience from everyone ahead of me, we all ended up back together.

A photo of everyone. Apart from me. But I was there, honest.
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Into the desert to camp we all go.
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The girls in particular were very amazed by the desert, with Cristina commenting that it was "spectacularly awesome" or "awesomely amazing" or something like that. And it was pretty special, with all the cactuses and different desert plants lit up by the low sun. But in truth this was only the beginning of the evening, only the backdrop for the really spectacularly amazingly awesome events that were about to unfold when I uttered the words, "SO, who wants to play EUREKA BALL!?!"

Well, it turned out that everyone did! I set up a three player court using panniers and drew lines in the sand. Everyone gathered around and I explained the rules, which were duly translated into French for those that needed it, and the fun could finally begin.

First up was a three-way contest between Erica, Michel, and Harvey. Erica was very good at throwing and opened up an early lead, while Michel struggled to stop the ball going through his legs. Harvey, who may or may not have understood the rules, had a habit of shouting "Eureka!" at the same time as throwing the ball, and rarely justified it with a successful throw. At the end of a close game, Michel just egded out Erica 10-9-3.

In the second match I took on Dea and Cristina, and I made a great start with a flying catch. One very nice advantage of having so many friends was that we also all had a ballboy or ballgirl behind us to fetch the ball. A quick return of the ball made the game even faster and more exciting than usual, and is something that will surely need to be implemented when the game goes professional. For now I delighted in beating out Cristina and a strangely off-colour Dea 10-7-0.

We rearranged the panniers into the two-player version of the game, and Michel and I took part in a final. Unfortunately the light was getting very bad and I couldn't see the ball, which we'll say is why Michel won, but that's not important. What's important is that everyone had really a lot of fun, and that's what Eureka Ball is all about, bringing people together, making them smile.

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Harvey reacting quickest to a "freeball scramble"
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Just look at those smiles!
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Today's ride: 88 km (55 miles)
Total: 774 km (481 miles)

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