Stage 37, Yabello to Bush Camp
My kind of off road !!
Today’s stage is 128km with 860m of climbing, it’s on the board as part pavement and part off road……I hate off road, please let there be more pavement !!
I left early with Gus and Alan, our plan was to take things easy and get to lunch at 68k then decide whether to continue or get the bus. As it turns out the Chinese are building a road from Yabello to Kenya and although it isn’t finished the first part was compacted stone, flat and almost a good as Tarmac. This continued for about 15k then it changed to rough Tarmac, waiting its top coat. After another 10k it changed again, bless those Chinese, they’d laid this ribbon of black silky Tarmac through this wide fertile valley. To make it even better it was downhill or flat for the next 10k or so, I had the biggest smile in my face as I wound up the gears and set of down this incredible road. No cars, just us cyclists, silence apart from the gentle rhythmic hum of tyres on Tarmac……bliss !!!
Gus had to stop due to a broken spoke and I lost Alan on a hill, I arrived at lunch to see Eerin and Naomi setting of from the lunch truck. I said I’d see them later and wished them a good ride before getting my lunch. Gus arrived on the dinner truck he had been given a repair spoke and would fit it, have lunch and ride the afternoon session. Alan arrived just as I was leaving, he would also ride the afternoon. I rode away on my own and after a while I caught up with Eerin and Naomi, we rode for a while but eventually I lost them both on a 12k climb. I waited for a while and eventually we rode into the town of Mega, they stopped for coke but I rode on, I made camp at about 2.00pm. Not a bad location, flat soft ground, some shade and the locals arrived with coke and beer 😉
The usual rider meeting happened before dinner and we were reminded that tomorrow we will leave Ethiopia and enter Kenya, our fourth country on this whirlwind tour. I really hope I can last the pace !!
Stage 38, Bush Camp to Moyale
Yesterday afternoon was in fact quite a painful experience for me as my left thigh is now covered in a very painful red, raw, rash ! It feels as if its on fire or as if I’ve been whipped ! Despite keeping myself as clean as possible, I seem to have been blighted by this unwanted problem. I went to bed slathered in cream and awoke yet again in pain, it even hurts to walk let alone sit down or ride a bike. So it’s the bus for me again, I didn’t even bother getting up at 5.30, I just couldn’t see the point !!
Riding the bus is not a particularly pleasant experience, the bus is cramped if there are to many people, it’s quite bumpy and you don’t get to see much. Riding with me today were Thijs, Ali, Klaus, Bas and Tracy, some strong riders but all brought down by various ailments !
Straight out of camp we were stopped by a rider who had yet another flat and had no more tubes, another rider lent his bike and we were off again 😉
The road was paved, a surprise to everyone, we’d expected off road most of the way and only part paved. We stopped briefly for lunch, just long enough to grab a sandwich before we were of again….next stop Ethiopian emigration !
We stopped for fuel before the emigration and decided to dismount and walk through the border town, I love these places, everything you could possibly want is for sale, mobile phone shops next to blood laboratories next to coffee shops next to hardware shops….you get the idea !!
Vendors, colour, noise, everyone out to make a buck..especially out of unsuspecting tourists 😉 we stopped for a coffee and waited until we saw the TDA truck pass us before walking up to the emigration office, it turned out to be a fairly quick process and soon enough we had our exit stamps for Ethiopia !
Next stop the Kenyan immigration office, yet again a fairly efficient process, 50 dollars handed over and we had our visa…. We were officially now in Kenya, our fourth country on this African Adventure !!
A short walk into town to change money before another short walk to camp and dinner !!
Prior to dinner we had our usual rider meeting and were informed of the revised travel plans for Kenya, we would now ride the next stage from Moyale to Sololu Camp and then it would be bus from there all the way to Nanyuki. We would miss several sections in Kenya but I believe as do most people that TDA have our best interests at heart and that this is the best solution !!
Stage 39, Moyale to Sololu Camp
The Roads take Revenge !!!
79km, off road and only 199m to climb !!
So, how hard can it be right ? I’m still riding the bus as my rash is still very painful, enough winging about that though….lets talk about the days events !!
The riders set of with a sense of mild trepidation, the route is entirely off road but no one knows for sure just how bad it really is, as it turns out most riders actually enjoyed the ride 😉 The winner of the days stage arrived at camp in 3hrs and 11mins, he must have flown round !! As for others, thorns took there toll, especially on the sweep rider Nix, the medic, she arrived at lunch having had 5 punctures in only 40km, not a good day !
Kenya is much less populated than Ethiopia and it shows, no longer are we hassled by “money money money” and “you you you”, people here are more reserved, they stand back and watch but are quite shy about coming forward !
The scenery is still impressive although much less dramatic, it still leaves you feeling small and full of wonder 😉
So why the sub title I hear you ask, what did the roads do to take revenge ?
Well ill tell you, firstly there were nine of us in the rear cab of the dinner truck, three crew members and six riders, we were looking out of the window enjoying the scenery when our trailer came past us !!
Yes you read right, our trailer that was attached to the rear of out truck came past us. The trailer weighs a couple of tons, it holds huge quantities of water, provisions and tools, it’s an essential item !!
Fortunately the trailer came to rest on its wheels and almost straight at the roadside, very very lucky ! On closer inspection in became apparent that with the very bumpy roads and heavy trailer it had managed to sheer the bolts holding the towing plate to the rear of the truck. As the trailer departed it also ripped the electrics out of the connector plug. We set about emptying the trailer of everything we could and loaded it onto the truck, that done myself and Johannes stayed with the trailer and waited for one of TDA’s other vehicles to come and collect us and the trailer. Ciaran arrived in the Land Cruiser and pulled the trailer out into the road, he was unsure of the hitch on the rear so when Sharita pulled up in the Hilux the trailer was swapped to it instead. I rode in the Hilux, a very uncomfortable ride although I did have the backseat to myself to lie down on !
We moved fairly slowly as the road was still very rough and with a heavy trailer the Hilux was struggling a bit. Sharita stopped after a bit to take a look at the trailer and reported that the front A frame was cracked, she wondered if it would make it back to camp. She reduced her speed even more and drove very conservatively but eventually the Road took its Revenge and the trailer finally broke. There was nothing we could do, we left it there and sped of to camp where Sharita gathered help and tools and went to retrieve the stricken trailer. About half an hour later she returned complete with trailer, an improvised hitch held on with ratchet straps had miraculously managed and the trailer was back in camp. There was news of a welder in town and after as much water had been off loaded as possible it was taken for repair, fingers crossed !!
Our normal evening followed with the rider meeting, more details of our bus transfer to Marsabit were given, dinner followed, curry…..delicious and finally we sat around to chat, and write blogs etc.
I for one am looking forward to a few days off, hopefully my rash will clear up soon and I can get back to cycling, in the meantime we have two long days to endure on buses 😉
So today, roads one, trailer nill !!!