09 December 2008

Up and over, the long way to Oldonyo Sambu

I didn't carry my camera this weekend as a fellow worker borrowed it for the long weekend. That fact seems to make blogging easier, as I have no pictures to post. The process of downloading, choosing, editing the size seems to complicate and stall the blogging process.

Not only is it a long weekend but an extra long weekend. Monday was Eid-ul-Fitr and Tuesday Independence day.

To stay a protestant anglo saxton on Saturday I worked 1/2 day.

Sunday I met up with 3 other guys and did a 120km road ride west almost to Makyuni and back. The scenery was fantastic and the companionship was as good. Henry would even let out whoops as we were feeling so good. Well, we felt good until the last 30 km as we slogged into the wind. Luckily one of us was under 35 and pulled us in, thanks Thomas. For me it was a total of 135km. Haven't ridden that long on road bike for awhile.

So back to the subject. What I really wanted this weekend was a long bush slog on the mountain bike (LBSMB). I rarely make a decision on where until a few minutes before leaving, hoping I can figure out something new and exciting. I am looking for a ride with wild bush or interesting cultural experience. Even riding along the polluted lower Themi river is an experience.

I decided to ride up and over the Olkakola Plateau and then to Losinoni Juu above Oldonyo Sambu if I had the energy. The ride up to the plateau is not new but adding on the last section is new.

It only took me 45 minutes to get going, better than usual. Paulo was standing around waiting but I have to make milk chai, pb sandwiches , banana-pineapple smoothy, and mix some dried fruit and nuts. I guess i should do some the night before. Somehow the last hour before bed I am usually so exhausted I can hardly get off the couch and climb into bed.

We left 530 am and rode with lights on familiar tracks. By 6am we could turn off lights.

Crossing the Ngaremtoni river canyon is as always a struggle, as it is a steep trail with boulders. Today was even more of a struggle. If my bike wasn't so heavy I would just carry it.

Even without adding my food, spares, clothes, and water my bike is heavy. I carry too much spares. I guess i want to be ready to fix anything. Permanently attached to the bike are a large rear rack and a triangle frame pack made of heavy material. My tires are the heaviest around with tyre liners, and slime.

Then I put a tool kit on the rear rack, consisting of multi tool, spokes, patches, cables, extra tube with slime, spare folding tyre, spare chain links, and some other stuff. In the frame pack I put thermos of tea, 1 litre banana-pineapple smoothy and a water bottle on top of a pump. In a handle bar bag I permanently keep some toiletries ( a toothbrush for overnights, ibuprofen, Vaseline, salt,sunscreen, cash). In another side pocket extra chain oil, in the main compartment a rain coat, cotton shirt with collar, hat, and some trail mix. There is room for more but it is enough.

The cotton shirt is for when it is really hot. When the sun is relentless I take off the synthetic bike jersey and helmet. The collar protects my neck, the cotton stays wet longer and cools me, the white color feels cooler. Today it would be too cold to wear as it would be soaked with sweat and freezing me on downhills.

After the small trail through the canyon we are on a large maintained forest road. It is relentless uphill for almost 2 hours to a gate on the edge of the plateau. We stop once to admire the view even better. At the gate I note we have been averaging less than 10kph for 3 hours, and the last section I was going 4-6kph.

After the gate it is alternating flat then steep uphill sections. It is breakfast time and we find a place to dangle our legs over a grassy bank and look down over Olkakola area. We must be around 8,000 feet now. It is cool and we watch the clouds blow in while sipping tea and eating pb sandwiches. We pass in and out of in indigenous forest , planted forest, and potato fields.
the track keeps going up and getting smaller. The plantations stop and then the trees thin and we are in heather. we are in clouds now and must be 9,000 feet. It is almost cold especially as the grass is wet and and our shoes are soaked. That helps relieve the sting from the stinging nettles that sometimes are unavoidable.

Oh yeah elephants. 30 minutes past the gate we start seeing old elephant droppings on the trail. they get fresher and fresher. They passed on the road in past few days.

It is pretty cool experience riding through the heather, really cool. I keep looking for trails to take off so I can camp up here sometimes. It is flatter , more rolling now. Eventually we feel we are on the other side and there is more down than up. The track becomes more of an overgrown foot path. Elephant sign become less and now we are into more potato fields.

The key is to take the higher roads. Stay high. A few years ago I went lower and the roads die out and you ride through potato fields for awhile.

We start running into people walking up to work their fields. We talk a bit and ask for the road to Oldonyo Was. The road becomes a road again but it is steep and rough and grass and brush hanging into the road. Instead of flying down we seriously wear out our brakes. We drop out of the clouds. We decided to take the foot trail straight down and leave the switchback road. It is smooth and fast and like a shalom ski run, much nicer than the road. The forest keeps the undergrowth down unlike the edges of the road . Unfortunately it means we miss the track heading above Oldonyo Was hill.

Above Oldonyo Sambu police station we leave the trail and go back on the road and contour through the forest. Eventually the road goes uphill into the pass between Meru and Oldonyo Was. Can you call that a pass? Mnt Meru is 15,000ft and oldonyo wasi maybe 7,500ft. The road is moderately steep but rough and strewn with cut brush. It is hard to stay on the bike. We make the pass and I know it is going to be a long downhill of rough track. We make it to the old colonial farm. There is a huge canyon I have written about before. Someone has bought the farm from Marios Ghikas and is erecting greenhouses. They have graded the road and put gravel in sections. We can now let go of the brakes more of the time than not. No dust to speak of. Then we meet a car and it is Mitcho! He has some heavy earth moving equipment leveling ground for the greenhouses.

We fly down. Next we bump into Lengishon. He used to be the farm hand at the school I worked at. We caught up on each others lives.

Next we stopped at the school and took a quick tour. The house is as i remember it, more simple than what i live in now. It has allot of character.

I note that we have averaged 9.3kph only!!!! What happened to the downhill increasing our speed?
we coast down to the highway and are faced with a few km of uphill and then mostly downhill home 30km away. Paulo was knackered so we finished the dates and trail mix and smoothy.

Total was 85 km and eventually the average speed went up to 13kph. More than 6 hours riding. I was not too tired but as I sat around at home I had hard time sitting and kept wanting to get horizontal. Took the kids to neighbors pool and then home to read while being horizontal.

No comments:

Post a Comment