22 February 2009

A good one

While whizzing down from Monduli town on Wednesday Thomas yells "Lets do a long ride on Saturday". A few moments later I fell. (See the previous post.)

The next day I doubt if I can do a long ride but by Friday I text Thomas "Expect to stay out all day". We enlist some newbies Erik "Mdogo" Zweig and Mika Peterson and Paulo Rukoine my occasional bike buddy. Thomas Holden plays in a nightclub band so he doesn't want to start early. We agree to a 7am start and plan on circumnavigating Monduli Mountain. By 7:05 we are all there.

Monduli mountain lies to the west of Arusha. It is around 9,000 feet and a broad mountain with a large plateau to the west called Monduli Juu. To the north the mountain drops way down to the bottom of the rift valley. Mnt Meru massif and Monduli come together at an area called Lengijave on the east.

The Monduli Mountain loop has 6 distinct parts.
1) A long uphill from Arusha town to Lengijave on a main highway.
2) A teeth baring coast across endless short grass plain down to the top of the rift valley escarpment. Teeth are bared because it is effortless and the view are fantastic and because large sections are over bone jarring rough the grass.
3) The third section is rocky canyon lands as you descend the rift.
4) A long slow slog to the top of Monduli Juu plateau.
5) 30 minutes of screaming fast downhill to Monduli town on a good dirt road.
6) A long slow slog into the wind to Arusha town. Emphasize the WIND part.

Mika in the 2nd section this is before the steep grass section. "Someone has to do this stuff, and I guess it has to be us." It is hard to feel sorry for yourself cruising through here.

We have breakfast on the top of Lengijave plains where the cattle trail has cut deep into the pass.

Life is easy until we started descending into a rocky canyon on section 3. At the bottom of the canyon it is rough and we follow the canyon. Walking, carrying (note Paulo in the back), and occasionally riding 30 feet at a time. Not only are there lots of rocks to dodge or carry your bike over, but in between the rocks are thorn trees hanging in your way. Today this section included being slightly lost and slightly frustrated trying to get in and out and down canyons. Right here is a good section.

We find a cattle trail and Mika breaks a rear derailleur cable. We spend 20 minutes changing it to find that the new cable is way too short! We also notice that the derailleur roller is worn out and its bearing is shot. I make a mistake and decide not to use the derailleur and make it fixed. That doesn't work very well.

At this point we debate whether to go back or forward. We go on.

We stop and put the derailleur back on, add more lengths of chain again, fix the rear gear that give him 3 in front. That is improvement and he is young and strong and rarely complains again.

We drink 1-3 cokes each in the village of Mfereji and start slogging up the road.

We have come down the escarpment in the distance and across the woodlands.

The road is very good but uphill. We soon reach the switchbacks on the hill ahead.

At the top of switch backs we have the some food and water, which is getting short. I am too tired to take pictures from here on.

Thomas, Erik , and Mika leave Paulo and I behind and we meet with them in Monduli town about 4 pm and drink more cokes, and bottles and bottles of water. Some food, and more food and 30 minutes later we are recovered.

We draft well the first section and are feeling good. We turn the last corner and into a 30kmph wind and slog home. Eventually we split into groups, each for their own reason. I arrive home at 630pm. Erik Zweig stops in town to watch a Arsenal football match and rides another 20km home in the dark.


  1. Hnmmm, I don't think Nashesha would have thought that a fun ride. The accomplishment of finishing would be great. Who comes up with these difficult rides? Do you ever repeat them once you know how hard they are? Byrna

  2. I come up with most of these types of rides. This is the third time I have done this one. It is kind of strange day ride. As you leave 21rst century arusha and pass through people living tough lives.

    yesterday I took off work and did a dream mtn climb. will post this week.