29 March 2010

Reasons to ride

This weekend despite being congested and slightly miserable I went on a ride each day besides running errands. I have had had a cold for a week or more, so I haven't ridden any long rides or even gone to club training rides.

Both days I was mulling over where to ride and I had an interesting observation.

I was choosing the route partially by how it would be for chatting to people with along the way.

I was even trying to think of someone to go visit, but time was short.

Recall from a recent post that my Rowberg background doesn't make me a casual conversationalist. But here I am looking at different routes in terms of the chat factor. Saturday I did the loop up to the forest above my house and the chat factor was pretty good. Nothing long but lots of one line chat. Sunday I went west to the monduli foothills and it was even better once i got off the main road.

" Is that rain over there gonna make us wet?"
"Yeah I think so" as the woman starts running faster.

" Hey you are you watching those rain clouds? You better figure something out."

" Hey white man. Put your bike down and help us push this hand cart out of this river crossing"

" Let me have that bicycle."

I didn't bring a raincoat, and I figured a soaking wouldn't help my cold, and there is a family wedding in the late afternoon so I turn around at 40 minutes and cruise home, getting slightly wet but not cold.

As I thought about the social aspect of riding I realize it has always been a factor. Even running cross country in college was probably as much a social thing for me as it was addiction to running.

17 March 2010

Guess what happened on the way to work?

A tree fell on me.

I decided to swing by Olasiti area on the way to work to offer condolences to someone. It was mid day and it was sunny and hot.

I had a soda and a talk and made to leave .

When I stepped outside it was overcast, kind of gray, rain threatening looking. In Burka and the clouds turned darker and overhead it became black. It started to sprinkle, then rain. I put on my rain jacket in a down pour. I got soaked riding in a minute, then a strong wind came up, and pushed me all over the wide trail. I was staring straight down as the rain was blowing hard at me. It was threatening to blow me over at times.

All of a sudden a bicycle passed by me at great speed a couple inches away. Wow, so I started watching where i was going. Kind of .

The next thing I know I hear a crack and a 5 meter trees has blown over on top of me! Its spreading branches enveloped me and brought me and the bike down. I tried to lift the bike up but the tree was pushing me down. I slithered our backwards , then dragged the tree off the bike and continued riding in the downpour. No scratches, no harm at all. really weird. The many branches cushioned the impact. I wish I had a picture.

It rained very hard for another 5 minutes and then let up. I was totally soaked from waist down, so i decided to ride home and change. 20 minutes later I am home and it has not rained at all.

11 March 2010

Excuses not to bike commute

If you read bike commuter blogs they inevitably will blog on the subject , excuses to not bike commute in the morning.

Not all commuter blogs, those who are completely car free don't blog about excuses.

But I and many others are not car free.

We have a car, but i pretty relinquished driving rights to Bernice, my wife. She sometimes tries to convince me to drive, probably to make her feel better. I could ask to use the car.

I must be weird as I never wake in the morning and don't feel like riding the bike to work that day. Well maybe 6 months ago I looked for an excuse one day when i felt tired from a hard wednesday workout.

When I do ask to use the car it is becuase I have a late meeting, or need to drive with someone far.

However, it has happened a few times I have gone for drinks after work, and more than a few times I have had a drink or three and a few times at 8pm, slightly high, looking at the darkness, I try to find an excuse to beg someone to drive me home. There I have admitted it. The excuse is usually it is too late and dark. Of the times I have tried to use the excuse and failed, I am always glad I rode after about 2 minutes of riding.

Reckless regard for "The Man"

With reckless regard for "The Man", I pulled off a 70 km mountain bike ride on a Thursday morning. I t took until 11 am to start work at home.

I started riding in the dark and met Thomas in the dark at the beginning of the TPRI road.

We road a loop we had done a few months back, and luckily Thomas remembered the turns.

I can never remember which one we took on other rides. Why is that? I ride a route and tell myself "Hey dummy, remember this intersection". A month later i get to the intersection and I can not remember which way we went.

After the village of Likamba we rode down and up out of countless valleys always ending up higher and higher until we passed above Mondul Coffee Estate about 1900 m and rode through the forest and down to Monduli town on single track walking a rocky section.

After a quick coke in Monduli town I sat behind Thomas to Arusha on the road. It was plain transport.

Great ride, great views, good company. The man (me) was not so happy with my daily work performance , but co workers didn't notice I was gone.

01 March 2010

In search of the tarred road.

Sunday afternoon I went searching for this new tarmac.

I missed an early Saturday ride because of a satellite behaving. Yes behaving! I went into the office at 5am Saturday to figure out why it wasn't tracking and after talking with the technician from Sky Vision we tried manually tracking. It stayed locked and we haven't had to track since. We expect our satellite to move, and hence our VSAT terminal tracks the satellite. We changed Friday night and the tracking wasn't working. Go figure.

By the time I finished it was 10am, I was hungry, Bent had left on his ride, and people started calling wanting to meet me or take them swimming. So much for a Saturday bike ride. I promised myself tomorrow I would ride and got on with a lunch meeting and taking Nashesha swimming.

Sunday afternoon I go north on the road under construction to find where they have laid down the tar. There is a rumour that somewhere in the middle they have some tar laid down. It is going to be a ho hum ride I figure, but then I didn't figure on bumping into anyone I know.

The parts they haven't ripped up the old tar is so potholed you wish it wasn't there, and the ripped up parts were rough. But I was enjoying being on this familiar road for the first time for awhile.

I did 5 five minute intervals with 3 minutes rest and ended the fifth inverval at the top of the steepest hill and slowed down to enjoy the view. I had a hard time on the last interval.

Just before Lengijave I saw a mzungu boy with a backpack on his back and a goat on a leash talking to a masai man on the side of the road. It is not a common sight so I am justified staring. It is Ezra, looking like a Dharma bum! I was thinking of stopping at his place on my way home.

I pulled over happy to see him. He doesn't look that happy to see me.

Ezra and his wife are bush pilots with a 7 week old baby.

I invite him to have a warm coke at this duka at the side of the road.

As we sip our cokes I enlist a kid hanging around to take our picture, including the goat for his lactating wife. Ezra explains he has been hiking down into the plains with his mother and hence the reason he looks tired and dirty. Someone gave him the goat for his wife. They were to take a bus but the driver wanted 5,000shs for the goat, so he put his mom on the bus and walked the 8 km remaining home. He started to perk up as we drank our cokes and caught up on each other's lives.

We begged a soda crate to sit on and the scowl was replaced with almost a smile.

Our photographer kid takes his job seriously and keeps taking more pictures of everything around including this vegetable seller

I head on uphill into the black clouds to find the tarmac. I crest Oldonyo Sambu and ride down the old tarmac to the market. No new tarmac. Halfway down to the plains I come upon tar as you see in the first picture.

I ride it for 5km and turn around and slog up hill for 30 minutes . I stop at Ezra's place and meet his mother who is stiff and sore and after a beer i meet his baby boy who comes with mom. I get home about 6pm 70km only but it felt like 100.

"New" shock

Rest assured folks, Eriki will ride on.

I sent a distress email to my buddies on advice about what do about my leaking shock.

One said fix it.
Two said "we tried fixing one and it didn't work"
Others offered condolences/pole.
Thomas Holden offered me second hand shock.

Thomas is the other side of 40 years and likes to get serious air on mountain bikes.

A few years ago he broke one of the flanges off on the bottom of the fork. His workshop made a 'cap' and welded the flange to that and he rode it for awhile and did major tests, like jumping 5 foot drops. But for some reason bought a new fork. He assured me it was bomb proof, so I borrowed the shock.

So I have a "new" shock.

A week ago, on the morning before a 7am ride, I put it on at 530 AM. It was pretty straight forward, just took time. I couldn't figure out the adjustment knobs, but when I met up with Thomas he showed me how they work.

I found out that my last shock wasn't taking out the vibrations much like this new one. Wow, what a difference. It is smoother and has more adjustments.