some pics from Kenya

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Posted in Before the journey | 1 Comment

Leaving Ethiopia (delayed post done from Kenya and unedited)

I must admit to thinking that I have been in this country about a week and a half too long. Ethiopia is a beautiful country for cycling; it has every type of terrain imaginable, from steep climbs that are at a grade of up to 13% to descents that knock the wind out of you, rolling and relentless hills, smooth roads, rough roads, corrugated roads and gravel roads. This country would build a cyclist out of anyone that dares to take it on. However. Yes, however…the incessant rock throwing from children, young and old, combined with constant barrage of “you, you, you” and “where are you go” and “give me birr (money)”, finally did me in. The children won in the mental game of who can break down first. I decided to remove myself from the bike for two of the three off-road riding days as I could no longer take the pushing and pinching and touching and screaming. I had tried everything from waving and smiling at the children to pretending I was deaf. Nothing seemed to work and I reached my limit after being swarmed by about 50 children who happened to be on school recess as I was passing by. The only thing that saved me from being mobbed was a teacher that ran out of the school compound just in time, and waved a stick at the childrens’ legs to get them back from me. As the children scattered back to where they belonged, I looked in to the eyes of a young fellow, and I saw a sub-human ferociousness. It was a reminder that underneath it all, we all have the ability to lose sight of who we are as humans…especially when in a mob. Now I know how some of the ugly parts of history have happened.

Many of us on the trip conjecture each night about why it is that Ethiopian children continue to put us in danger with their behaviour, but no complete explanations have emerged. And so, we leave Ethiopia with mixed emotions. It is a beautiful country for bicycling, and hopefully as the echoes of “you, you, you” die down in my head, this will be my enduring memory of this section of the journey.

How do I know that I am getting used to being in Africa? I watch as a donkey cart pulls up to our little pension and delivers beer, and it is no big deal. I stroll down a village path, dodging cows, donkeys and goats as if they were people on Yonge Street…no big deal. I laugh as my friend has her lunch interrupted by the big, black, wet snout of a bull cow as it tries to poke through the verandah railings of a local coffee shop. I hopscotch over cow patties without even a thought anymore. I listen, intently, to a discussion of how to discern a sheep from a goat and start to practice my newly learned skill. Finally, I choose to use the shovel in the outdoors rather than the poop tents that the Tour is now building at our campsites. This is Africa. I am here. It is real.

I must admit to thinking that I have been in this country about a week and a half too long. Ethiopia is a beautiful country for cycling; it has every type of terrain imaginable, from steep climbs that are at a grade of up to 13% to descents that knock the wind out of you, rolling and relentless hills, smooth roads, rough roads, corrugated roads and gravel roads. This country would build a cyclist out of anyone that dares to take it on. However. Yes, however…the incessant rock throwing from children, young and old, combined with constant barrage of “you, you, you” and “where are you go” and “give me birr (money)”, finally did me in. The children won in the mental game of who can break down first. I decided to remove myself from the bike for two of the three off-road riding days as I could no longer take the pushing and pinching and touching and screaming. I had tried everything from waving and smiling at the children to pretending I was deaf. Nothing seemed to work and I reached my limit after being swarmed by about 50 children who happened to be on school recess as I was passing by. The only thing that saved me from being mobbed was a teacher that ran out of the school compound just in time, and waved a stick at the childrens’ legs to get them back from me. As the children scattered back to where they belonged, I looked in to the eyes of a young fellow, and I saw a sub-human ferociousness. It was a reminder that underneath it all, we all have the ability to lose sight of who we are as humans…especially when in a mob. Now I know how some of the ugly parts of history have happened.

Many of us on the trip conjecture each night about why it is that Ethiopian children continue to put us in danger with their behaviour, but no complete explanations have emerged. And so, we leave Ethiopia with mixed emotions. It is a beautiful country for bicycling, and hopefully as the echoes of “you, you, you” die down in my head, this will be my enduring memory of this section of the journey.

How do I know that I am getting used to being in Africa? I watch as a donkey cart pulls up to our little pension and delivers beer, and it is no big deal. I stroll down a village path, dodging cows, donkeys and goats as if they were people on Yonge Street…no big deal. I laugh as my friend has her lunch interrupted by the big, black, wet snout of a bull cow as it tries to poke through the verandah railings of a local coffee shop. I hopscotch over cow patties without even a thought anymore. I listen, intently, to a discussion of how to discern a sheep from a goat and start to practice my newly learned skill. Finally, I choose to use the shovel in the outdoors rather than the poop tents that the Tour is now building at our campsites. This is Africa. I am here. It is real.

Posted in Before the journey | 5 Comments

Nanyuki, Kenya

Sitting at the Get Fed Eatery, 2km from the equator. Pot of superb Kenya tea in front of me; ice cream, french fries and Tusker beer in the belly from lunch. Tarmac roads outside and temperatures in the mid 20’s. Could it be that we have just had an easy cycling day…only about 70km, uphill around Mt. Kenya ( thought the brakes were on as the speed climbing was only 7km/h) but a grand downhill to a classic old place called the Sportsmans Arms Lodge in Nanyuki.
We had to transfer by local bus yesterday past Isiolo because of the troubles with local bandits. No worries for me as that meant one less day off rough lava rock roads and endless corrugation!
We are all feeling happy today … maybe because the ride was stunning; rolling hills, cornfields, cool tailwind, smooth road. Life is good.

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Kenyan Lava Rock

Just a short post from Marsabit, Kenya..first to let you know that I have arrived in to Kenya safely and have made it this far. The roads from the border of Ethiopia (Moyale) are indescribable. Picture the surface of the Moon, combined with banks of the roughest gravel possible and you will have an idea of what they are like. The locals just shake their heads at us when we tell them we are on bicycles.
While the distances on these roads have been relatively short (around 90km per day), riding these at an average pace of 10-12km/h have made for some very long days. Injuries, falls, cuts and bruises abound, even among the strongest riders and racers. One of my “teammates” went down and now has a broken femur. Very sad. And he was a strong, beautiful and careful rider. He was airlifted out to Nairobi, and is now probably in his home country of Denmark. Klaus, my heart goes out to you.
I will post a blog I wrote previous to this one, once we are in wi-fi range. It is lovely to be back in Kenya, and the Tusker beer goes down very easily. Again, I hope to post some pictures when the internet service will support it.
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Ethiopia

Anyone with a PC is having loads of problems connecting to the internet here, so just a brief hello using an i-phone. Ethiopia is like crinoline skirt…the land is like someone took it and scrunched it up into a series of endless hills. So much so, that I soon came to dread every downhill because I knew an uphill would soon follow. It is the first time I have had to engage my granny gear and still my thighs were screaming from lactate build up! Hmmm. And I thought I was getting stronger. Also, I think my bike is putting on weight. Every morning when I go to move Jonah, his little butt end seems to be harder to move; either that, or my Popeye arms are losing strength!
Speaking of weight, one man has lost 10kg and another over 24kg. The calorie deficit for some of these guys is huge. Me? Not so much…I am eating heaps and have never had so much sugar in my tea and coffee. The high sugar intake seems to be a common trend in the group.
Other quick notes: we reached the highest elevation of the trip the other day- over 3000m; one rider got whipped with a donkey whip; Ethiopian landforms resemble the wine region of California; got a haircut for 30birr; exchange rate is 17birr to the dollar–cheapest haircut of my life!
I will try to post some pics when the wi-fi service is more cooperative. Thanks for following … Sent from my iPhone

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more pics ‘cuz internet is working…yeah

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more random shots

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