The African Adventure, Stages 49 to 56, Arusha to Mbeya

Arusha to Mbeya, Stages 49 to 56
900+km, 7500m climbing and 5 of the days on dirt road !!
One of the toughest sections of the entire trip and I started it on the dinner truck, still got this sodding rash so not riding yet !!
The first three days out of Arusha were on paved roads and with fair winds and fabulous scenery it would have been a great ride, I watched enviously from the truck as we swept passed ready to set up each new camp. I heard story after story from each rider describing there day and became more and more determined to get back on my bike. By the fifth day I was ready to try and ride, I decided to start from lunch and ride to camp, a distance of about 60km on dirt road. The ride to lunch was interesting as the storm the night before had reduced to road to no more than a mud bath, the road was slick with thick mud and caused several vehicles to slide straight of the road. It was only the expert driving of Noah and the four wheel drive ability of the truck that actually got us to lunch.
We helped set up before unloading the bikes from the roof, I wasn’t alone in starting from lunch ! A few checks, fill the water bottles, thank the crew for lunch and for the first time in a long time I was finally cycling !! I set of with Naomi but she realised fairly early on that I was chomping at the bit and let me go 😉 I cycled fairly hard and thoroughly enjoyed the rolling dirt road, fortunately it was far less muddy than the road to lunch and that allowed me to maintain a good speed, I barrelled down hills and slogged up the other side, sweat pouring of me and a huge smile on my face. I was however relieved to make camp as my rash was still a little sore and despite only cycling 60km I was out of practice and it was starting to hurt !!
I made the decision to cycle the route from lunch the following day and was looking forward to doing so, again I wasn’t alone in this decision so the lunch truck was fairly full on the way to lunch.
I set off again feeling even better than the day before and for me I set a fairly good pace, the road was mainly hard packed dirt and sand and it was a much flatter route than the previous day. I was enjoying being back on my bike and being part of the tour again……then disaster struck… My front wheel hit soft sand only 3km from camp, it turned sharply and dug in causing me to be catapulted over the handlebars. I landed heavily on my shoulder and ribs, I lay there winded while I assessed my self. I finally got up but realised that I’d done myself some damage, my right shoulder and ribs were very painful. I managed to pick my bike up with my left arm and started walking. I guy appeared from out of a field and took my bike from me, he had seen me fall and apologised 😉
Bless him he felt responsible for me in his country, he pushed my bike for as far as he was going and wished me well. I made camp on foot and by them the shoulder and ribs were really painful. I waited for our trucks to arrive, our medics would arrive with them and I would then get some treatment. When the truck arrived there was another rider with his arm in a sling, he’d had the same problem as me…suspected broken collarbone !!
I was checked out and they though I’d got a separated AC joint and bruised ribs, I was given painkillers and a sling…..no riding again !!
Erecting my tent would have been difficult without the help of other riders, Ben especially 😉
The morning saw me back on the dinner truck, watching from the window again, this was not how I envisioned seeing Africa 😉
We arrived at Makongolosi and then the fun began, the truck was to tall for the electric cables so the crew had to dig a new driveway into the school playing field, it took a while and several attempts to get the truck in but finally it was in, most riders then jumped in to help set up camp and prepare soup and dinner. I think they set a record for setting up camp, I unfortunately had to sit and watch, very frustrating !!
The following day myself and the other injured rider were driven to Mbeya in the Hilux with Nix, one of our medics, we were going to get and X-ray at the hospital. The route would be the same for the riders, 111km and over 2000m of climbing on unmade road, it was a tough trip in a car so we knew it would be brutal for the riders.
I had my X-ray and fortunately I’d not broken anything, still very painful but the other rider had a broken collarbone, he was told it would take up to six weeks to mend properly, he’s now gone home and will join us much later !!
We got to the hotel to wait for Eerin, Naomi, Gus and others…people were arriving very tired and it was getting late and starting to get dark when finally Naomi arrived with Inge, it was just after 7.00pm, they’d been out for nearly 12 hours and despite being tired they were very happy and justifiably proud to have completed one of the toughest days on this tour !!
Rest day tomorrow and boy do they all deserve a rest, the last eight days have been very tough and there are some tired bodies.
I hope that my injury will allow me to ride out of Mbeya, fingers crossed !!

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About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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One Response to The African Adventure, Stages 49 to 56, Arusha to Mbeya

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh noooooo! You poor thing… Sounds like it was a good time to do it though…12 hours tough times! Did your rash fall off whilst you were on the ground?!! Take care ou and don’t get too excited next time you get on your bike!! X

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