09 March 2008

Lower Themi River

All week i as promising myself that I would do a new route, maybe an adventure. It is great doing the same routes with the club too, but I needed something new.

I had several options but a ViaVia Cafe after work Erik mdogo suggested riding south from his place to Kiteto. I didnt commit until 2 minutes from leaving the house. 4am was hard to get motivated, but 5am i could get out of bed and get ready. I left at 6am in the dark.

at around 7 i was passing Erik's place and called in and got him out of bed to share my breakfast. He showed me how to get back to the road without backtracking and soon i was out of the trees and into the plains, an old Sisal Estate stretched every way i could see.

I started to runn into big camps from the estate , some derelict, most deserted as all the adults were in the fields. I crossed a river and found out it was the Themi river. It was chocolate colorted and full of plastic bags.

I was warned to ask directions abecuase there was mud over the road. I didnt see anyone to ask and before i knew it i had done an arc and was back along the Themi river fallowing two bike tracks between =plowed fields and the river.

It got better after 5km and then i noticed a big track accross the river so i waded the river .

People were filtering water by diggin in the sand along the river. Most of the river is in a steep cut out and lined by huge fig treees. Never seen such big fig treees.

I was advised to leave the track along the riverr and follow a track away from the river.

It was always uphill and sometimes steeper. I hit a big road and a washed out bridge being rebuilt.

Met some hice people and kept cranking. was gone 6 1/2 hours, rode 5 hours and went 90 km. the last 2.5 hours i rode straight and didnt eat, just drank. I was a bit knackered and took a 10 minute nap before taking kids swiming.

07 March 2008

Isn't commuting to dangerous?

A few weeks ago commuting on my way to work I stopped at a apartment complex called Fortes and bumped into so nice people that lived in Arusha 15 years ago. They now live in Holland. They commented that they would commute and ride bikes but it is too dangerous.

Being who I am I agreed, said i survive by being defensive rider and using the tactic of not trusting drivers. I basically supported their idea that bike riding is too dangerous.

As I rode to work I wondered if that is true. Is bike commuting dangerous? I have been commuting for like ten years in Arusha. Sometimes every day in a week, a few weeks never. Lets take the low figure and say i have commuted 50% of the time in the past ten years. So like more that 1500 trips through Arusha Town. Sometimes like two days ago I cruised through town at lunch time and back to the office.

Anyway I had one accident. I was about 6 years ago and a pedestrian crossed the road far ahead of me and I braked on wet oily pavement and the bike slipped from under me. I had a sprain to my wrist and a bruised pride.

Make a note here that most of my mileage is on a racing bike and riding rough roads on the weekend. I fall almost weekly on the mtn bike rides, not serious. I once fell on the road bike ride on a wet greasy cornor.

So is it dangerous or am I lucky or skilled. I thought about that on the way to work. I often ride just to the side of the vehicle lane, so i figure people in their cars see some bikes there and it looks dangerous. But if i want i can move off the road, take different routes, with little traffic. I prefer the shortest smoothest road. That happens to have alot of traffic.

Non commuters should also realize that on alot of road traffic is going so slow that vehicle traffic is not a problem.

To those who dont commute i would say it is not nearly as dangerous as you think. But be smart, start with low traffic roads, trails. Dont trust drivers to do what they should. Wear a helmet and clothing and reflective gear so you are visible.

I have to refrain for tendencies to race with other commuters (both bike and car) and trying to ride like a NYCity bike messenger.