03 November 2007

Today I drank a coke

All week I had a compelling need to ride a long one, not necessarily an interesting ride, just long. It was a 148 km mountain bike ride, unfortunately half on the road, ridden in 7.5 hours. But as I said previously, one should ride to the ride. (I debated for awhile whether to call 148km a long ride or not.)

I must of done something wrong as I needed a coke with 10km to home. I NEVER drink soda pop. I was the heat or I got lazy about eating.

I managed to get out of bed at 4am and was ready to go just before 5am. Why does it take an hour to eat, process some food, dress, and get a few things together? I think it is old age.

Our early start was foiled when Paulo and I couldn't find the headlamp bracket for his bike. We wasted half an hour before just strapping a headlamp on his bike and rode out to the sounds of prayers at the mosques.

Today I didn't try to remember thoughts, but I do remember thinking it seemed like fewer people were ringing their bells at me, maybe because we were two bikers. It sprinkled a bit and we kept our jackets on until we were about 30 km east and it was full light.

We were on the main highway until Kilimanjaro International Airport junction. Paulo was lagging behind and decided to turn around at this point. (Later he confessed he was wasted also and had to rest to get home.) I gave him a sandwich and we parted company. I planned to followed the route of two weekends ago but today I would make it to the Kikoletwa springs.


I have said it before. Asking directions can be hit and miss in terms of success. Today was no exception. Bicyclists tend to be better at given meaningful directions.

I asked the first bicyclist and he gave misleading information. He did mention names that were right but he said bear right more than left and that was totally wrong I learned on the way back.

The road kept heading southerly to the south Masai escarpment. When I was close to the escarpment I started asking directions again. Now I was on small paths and sometimes just riding across the grass. I rode out of the open grassland into a forest with hard pan all over. I came to a track and upon a Masai guy on bike who gave me more directions. "Stay on this road until an irrigation ditch and then bear right." I rode over several dry ditches and then left the road for a small path.

I came to a row of houses, built like the ones built for road or rail camps. I stopped to ask a family directions.
"Good morning?"
Mom and Dad: "Its good."
"Is tea ready"
Mom:"yes it is, you are most welcome"
"I beg to ask directions."
"How do I get to Chemka village?"
Turns out I am standing in the village , but we agree I want to go to the Chemka spring.
Dad animated "Just stay on this path and over there it turns to a track and that will take you "
"Is it far?"
"No, just in those trees"

I cycle off thinking it is still miles and miles and within 10 minutes things look familiar.

Kikoletwa Springs

If I didn't know where the big spring was I would of rode by it. The track follows some trees and then crosses a small river. Before the river you leave the dirt track and ride into a grove of trees and there is this huge spring flowing out of the ground in a grove of wild fig trees. See my movie here.

A guy follows me in on a single speed bicycle, and he turns out to be one of the caretakers, or so he said. He was anxious to inform me the fee had gone up from 2 to 3000 shs. So much for thinking I would get away with sneaking in.

I striped off my clothes and dove in and washed off the sweat and dust and had breakfast will chatting with Adam about the area. The water is extremely clear and slightly saline. I got chilled after getting out. I rode about 3.5 hours to swim and only swam for 3 minutes. The water is warmer than the air. Some people call Kikoletwa "hot" springs.

I wanted to see the old electrical power plant and the rivers below so I continued east and in 15 minutes was at the derelict power plant. There are huge wooden gates in the dam in the feeding ditches. I checked out the gorge and walked over the suspension bridge, keeping hold of the cables as the boards were ancient, rotten , missing , replaced sometimes with bamboo.

I was again amazed at the amount of water. It is a big river for Tanzania. I should of spent more time but the bike was a problem, and to look around I needed to walk.

Adam said that the quickest way back was to sort of follow the electrical power lines, so i did that. In Chemka village I found a guy repairing his bike and he gave good directions. I made good time although the track was like a path of a snake. Eventually it became a car track and then died again at a school. Now I was in Masai area again. More directions and I was on small trails weaving between Masai compounds. Sometimes I had to ask where the path went as I took trails that lead into some one's yard. No one seemed to mind.

I came upon 5 Masai men and we talked for 10 minutes about my trip, their life there, where they get water, farming, what I ate. They said this trail lead right up to the KIA corner, and it did.

I have drawn a map so I can find this track again as it seems to be about 3km shorter. Maybe not quite as interesting as the longer one.

Soon I was on the main highway. It was noon. Just struck me I should of had another meal then. It was hot. I left a container of dates open now that i was on smooth road. I drank some water I had put honey in 3 days ago. Despite being in the refrigerator it was wine. I gave up on stopping at Erik Mdogo's and spun the 50 km home.

It got hotter, I was sweating, and starting to feel wasted. I took a couple shots of honey and washed it down with honey wine. By the time I made it to Usa River with 25 km to go I was feeling waaaasteddddd. I vowed to stop and drink a coke by the side of the road but I was feeling to bad to stop, or was being stubborn. I made it up the last hills(
Kikoletwa is probably 2500' and I live at 4300') and stopped finally for a coke with only 10km to go.

I feel slightly sick as I ask for a coke.

Not sure why. Tired, dehydrated, low sugar or what? I drank the coke standing by my bike at a gas station and wondered what was wrong. After the coke I felt better, not great and after riding a minute better still but still not great . From here the road slopes slightly down going my
way and I manage 35km again and the breeze feels good. Now it only remains the dirt road to my house. Hmm the last km of my road is the worst road I have been on today.

I recovered after a shower, juice with salt, milk tea, and being still. It took me a couple hours before I felt like food.

All in all it was great ride. No regrets.

No comments:

Post a Comment