22 December 2008

S24O Monduli Mountain Forest

Long day rides improve my mood but S24O overnights sooth my soul. S24O are "Sub 24 hour Overnight" rides, I believe termed by grant Peterson.

I am wondering if I made a mistake on buying a tandem. It should of been a triple instead. Both Bernice and Nashesha can ride with me on the tandem, but on individual bikes it doesn't work. I don't know if a triple would work on rough trails though.

In this case grandparents are visiting so Nashesha is lucky to accompany me. Erik Zweig shows up at 2:30 and finds I haven't done anything. I frantically flounder around getting stuff ready and giving instructions to Bernice, Nashesha and Erik on food. At 4 pm we set off, laden down with too much food and not enough insulation.

The first section is along the busy main highway and is not a perfect touring experience. We probably own the only tandem in a country of 40 million people and we have to endure too much attention. Urban Tanzania is trashy and off on the shoulder one gets to look at lots of trash.

Added to my mood is the fact we have left at 4pm, and as it will be dark at 7pm. We have 20 km and lots of climbing on rough dusty tracks to get to the Monduli forest and find someplace to stealth camp. As usually that occupies my thoughts.

I feel better when we leave the main highway and are riding side by side on the Musa /Likamba road. We have to stop and buy some bottled water as we ran out of filtered water at home and find a jar of peanut butter.

I have about 10 or 11 litres of water and Erik has 3, as well as a bottle of homemade banana wine. I relax gradually as we get closer to the Monduli Massif. It has dried considerable in the past 3 weeks, and we have sections of 2 inches of dust.

From home it is series of uphills with a few level sections. I am mostly in the 3 lowest gears. At 5:30 pm we are on the first of the 3 steep sections. The first I have Nashesha jump off and she walks easily at my pace as I struggle to keep gong. It is easier for me as on a steep hills she cant "carry her weight". The second steep hill I try the same but have to push the bike most of the hill. It is 5 minutes of hard work. The last steep hill I am able to ride the whole way and am proud of that.

Erik has gone ahead most of the time and we find him at the top of this hill. The sun starts to go down but we can see the forest edge now and know we will make it to the forest before dark.

Nashesha is in good spirits and enjoying the trip. She talks non stop about everything. We ride into the forest reserve and when we see a promising big tree off to the side of the track we strike camp in the early dusk.

Erik has brought a MSR whisper lite stove and he starts first course of noodles while Nashesha and I put up our tent. I light up my "little bug" wood stove for warmth and light. After noodles we have rice and lentils and a bottle of wine, drank from jam jars. Nashesha crashes in my light sleeping bag. As Erik and I keep gabbing, after a few minutes we are instructed to lower our voices.

At 9 pm I head for the tent and climb into a fleece sleeping bag. That was all my bike had room for. Erik climbs in his mummy bag as there are only brush and large trees widely spaced and he cant set up his hammock.

The wind howls all night, the tent flaps, and I become cold. Nashesha lets me under her sleep bag and I am warm, but the ground is hard and the wind noisy. I fret thinking about work while awake. At 1am Nashesha and I talk for awhile.

I try to stay in bed hoping I will sleep more but by 630 I get out wash up the pot for making milk tea on the little wood stove. Here is our camp in the early morning.

You can see why this used to be called a Mummy bag. In the lower right corner is my little bug wood stove.

We breakfast on milk tea and oatmeal and then it is Nashesha's turn on dishes. It is still blowing hard and cold., but it is nice to walk around bare foot on the short grass.

We know the sun will get hot so we pack up and ride further up the mountain and find a big tree with a small patch of grass. To get there we take small cow trails through the thickets. Nashesha is expert at avoiding the nettles now after touching one on the way in yesterday.
We are relax under one of the trees above Erik's head in the middle of thickets.

I climb up the tree for plants for our rock gardens and find a space up in the tree used by kids? monkeys? leopard?

Erik has stomach problems and is going into the bushes frequently. Nashesha plays building houses in the dirt with twigs, and I read some.

Nashesha and I eat some bread and cheese and we pack up, for the downhill ride to home.

I use the brakes enough that I worry of wearing them out. Nashesha requests to pedal some as we are coasting too much. So sometimes we are pedalling with the brakes on. Some sections we can let go of the brakes and fly down the hills. The intense sun baking us. Erik leaves us far behind. It is less than two hours to ride home. I am feeling tired, probably just from sun.

We make the 24 hour deadline, but no one was very concerned.

1 comment:

  1. I think you use the sub 24 ride like Bob and I use an evening or overnight to the cabin. It is so refreshing to be in the cabin in the woods. We always sleep well. Even this last week, when the 7F temp burst a pipe and we had to melt snow for the toilet, we had a great time. I envy Kathy/Chuck that take 3-4 weeks at the cabin. We have yet to stay more than 2 nights. Maybe 2009 will give us the chance.
    Nashesha is such a trooper. What a wonderful bonding time for you and she. Love Byrna