27 May 2009

Warming up on the commute

Our hot (or warmer) season is December to March/April, depending upon when he rains start. Then it cools off gradually until July. Yesterday was the first day that I wore something additional to stay warm on the commute. I prefer that as I don't have to worry about sweat on the way to work. I sleep better also during this season. Has something to do with sleeping in the basement growing up, where it never got warm even during hot summers.

Today was early morning club ride and the talk before the ride is it is cold today. That means next week i start using arm warmers during the ride.

Keep em rolling.

24 May 2009

Two different rides

This weekend I managed to ride each day, both rides were 5 hours riding time but different rides. I enjoyed them both but the Saturday ride will remain in my mind.


Friday my buddy Erik Zweig slept at our house and we schemed that evening for a 3 hour easy ride. We got up early enough but repairing two broken spokes turned into cleaning his drive train. Then he worked on his brakes and then it was 8am and everyone else was having pancakes so we had pancakes and messed around and left after 10 am.

We did the familiar route up into the Meru Forest, and then headed east on the main forest road. We then rolled up and down ravines high up on the mountain. We talked to a few people and greeted almost everyone.

At the highest point we stopped for some fruit and water and started the descent. Immediately after leaving the forest we stopped by a large group of kids and bought two big avocados. We were still hungry and it was 1pm so we asked for a "hoteli" and were directed to a shack. We shared a bowl of cooked bananas with a few pieces of beef and a bottle of Banana Wine. We shared a table with two guys and struck up a conversation.

We wanted to pass but Fred's house above Sanksi. Fred is some guy Erik met and wanted to visit. They said if we follow the road then we have to climb back up, which is what i expected. Rather they could show us a trail through the big ravine and then a road that would eventually take us to the Sanksi road.

We paid for the meal, a bit under $2, and were guided to the trail. We traveled at the same speed as our guides as the trail was steep and rocky. We carried and pushed and shortly the trail became a track that we were told would carry us down. We stopped frequently for directions and greeted a ton of people.

Ever since the entering the forest the road was slick. We both went slow. I noticed my average speed was only 10 kph.

We came to a big Lutheran church and gazed around like two lost boys. A pastor came along who knew Fred, but by his Meru name. He enlisted a kid to show us the way. We rode up and down on slick small tracks through small farms . I was starting to think this "detour" to see Fred, a guy I don't know might be a waste of time. After 30 minutes our guide points to a house on a wide hill.

As we ride up the hill the trees gave away and we had views in all directions. My lower jaw fell down to the handle bars. It was incredible view. At the house the view was spectacular. Mnt Meru, Kilimanjaro, south Masai steppe, Arusha town. We were high enough we could see the water of Lake Duluti that is in a small crater!

Fred is the son of a Meru and Canadian. He grew up in Canada, but they had strong ties to this area. A few years ago his wife and their small child decided to try to live in this area. He is a lawyer but made some money in "multimedia", whatever that is. He worked for a local lawyer and bit and now the UN ICTR.

We ended up drinking a beer and talking a mile a minute. They wanted to know what i knew about the submarine fiber optical cable coming to our country, and when it would come to Arusha. Then the kids, Erik, and Fred played catch with a baseball. They have about 5 acres of grass around the house.

At 5pm we took our leave and coasted the 10km to the main highway at Duluti. Then Erik and i split up and i slogged up to Arusha and home. I only went 50 kms and was riding 5 hours but gone 8 1/2 hours. Talked with a ton of people.

Sunday morning I got out of bed at 5:15 an stumbled around making coffee and tea and looking for something to take to eat. I mixed some raisins, almonds, peanuts in a bag, grabbed 2 apples, a tangerine, and then wanted to make a sandwich but that seemed like work and i remembered that Bibi (grandma) had made some banana cake to i cut a piece. there are some energy gu right next to where the raisins are kept so i grabbed one of those. I took 4 litres water and a thermos of tea.

I was 20 minutes late to meet Wes, Thomas, Reiner, and Franco in Olasiti. i started riding 615am. The pace was fast and no slowing down in the rocky sections as we headed south, riding on single track mostly. We came to the big caldera from the south side which was new for me. My rear tyre went down , then i changed the tube and it went down three times so i used a tube from Wes. We ate some food at the caldera and discussed para gliding. The banana cake tasted pretty good with tea.

We descended off the rim of the caldera and i popped into a boma I had visited once cut my friend wasn't there. We split with Franco and Reiner heading straight back on the dirt road and we other three decided to ride around Moita hill. Eventually we found a track and cruised up on a ridge where the we came upon a kilometer of rocky ground. on the other side it was fast and we cruised back to the road arguing about which hill was which, as we look at them from the other side. I lagged a bit , feeling tired and Thomas pushes fast and Wes follows. We cruised up to the tarmac highway and home. Today was 80+km and ridden at 16kph, 5hours riding in 7 1/2 hours. Not much visiting but a good ride.

07 May 2009

Riding with twins

Nyika and Zaka Friberg are family friends. Our families go way back. Before I was born our parents and some grandparents new each other in Bumbuli in the 1940's.

The twins are adventurous, so when they come around I have no problem getting them to roll the bikes around.

Nyika and Zaka live in the bush so when we rode by some big trees in a coffee plantation they wanted to climb. Click on the picture and you can see one of them on the lowest branch above the road. I am the only one in the family who can't tell them apart, so ask Nashesha who is up in the tree.

06 May 2009

Note to Self: buy collapsable bike

I try to keep lowering my carbon footprint and consuming less. And there are moments when I am proud of parts of my lifestyle that consume less The more I lower it the more I realize how much I pollute, carbon- ate, consume, waste etc. For example my business trips to Dar es Salaam.

I fly to Dar es Salaam every 2-3 months for board meetings. We are told the jets are one of the worst polluters. In addition I use taxis to get around.

From the airport it costs 15,000( $12) to 20,000 t shillings. Then I have to get to a place called Kijitonyama for the meeting and back downtown to hotel and back to airport. I get lifts some times, but i spend $30-$50 on taxis every trip. I get $120 and hotels cost about 80.

I am a bit of a cheapskate and whereas I earn enough I don't earn very much compared to people of my socio economic background. So it does not make economic sense to spend all that money on taxis, besides the fact I consume a fair amount of petrol sitting in taxis.

I have been wondering if it would work for me to bicycle around Dar on my trips.

The main road from airport to town has a service road and even the highway has a shoulder. Often there are traffic jams so traffic is crawling.

What stops me is :
-I need to carry a bike back and forth under the 15kg limit.
-Dar can be very hot and humid, and sometimes I go from airport direct to meeting. How am I going to deal with the sweat?
- I need a bike. Where will I get a collapsable bike?
- I sometimes stay at meetings until after dark or near dark and from there "go out". What do I do? Ride in the late evening in Dar? People say Dar is more dangerous.

stayed tuned.

Which brings me to another point. Should I be flying? Can I justify the pollution of me flying? Should I take the bus instead, or take 3 days and ride?

05 May 2009

Dot CC

Years ago during the dot com boom of the 90's somebody was selling the .cc domains cheap. cc was for Cocos Islands. I guess they made a pile of money while it lasted. since many of the names were already taken with dot com people felt that they should get their name on dot cc or somebody else's name on dot cc so they can sell it to them later for a profit.

A few days ago I was at a meeting for African Top Level Domain Registry's. I am on the board of TzNIC who was sponsoring the meeting and as the meeting was in my home town the other board members asked me to help the chairman represent thme.
I was a misfit. First of all I am white if you don't already know. And Top level country domains tend to have pride and nationalism sentiment right now, so what is a white non citizen doing on the board?

Secondly the attendees were either very technical guys running cctld's (country code top level domains), or the experts brought in to do a very specific seminar for them, or government bureaucrats who wanted a vacation and were clueless about what was talked about, or Tanzanians who someone convinced their ISP employers that this course would be useful. I fall into the last group, but not quite anymore. I am the token board member to fill a chair when needed. Sometimes that chair was next to the honorable Deputy Ministers.

The board said our ISP better be prepared as Internet connection backup. Well it turned out they needed us the whole time.

During a tea break I meet a guy who has come in for just two days to demonstrate software used by cctld's. Turns out he was one of those who was there doing the dot cc thing and now he can live like a hippy. That was pretty cool trading stories about being "Internet cowboys" during the early days.

But what does this have to do with bicycles? So we go sit down in the back row and like everyone else at the meeting we are all browsing instead of listening. Somehow we mention bicycles and we go off into another world, showing our trips, our fixies, our commuters, and so on.

Keep em rolling