15 November 2010

Same old boring ride (yawn).

I couldn't ride this trail down the great rift! I had to walk and even carry the bike down the 200m elevation drop .

Below is just past the worst part when I put the bike down. Before that it was all I could do to keep the bike on my back, thus no picture. It was not the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was hard.

I have carried up a similar trail near this one and it was one of the hardest hours of my life. But that was another story.

I met a Masai man at the top. Midway down we were friends . He apologized profusely for leaving me behind after that but he was trying to keep up with a donkey. I caught up with him below as the rocks decreased and we greeted each other "bukishu!" (friend). At the water tank it was my time to apologize for leaving him behind but I was 50km into a 100km ride. He declined a soda in the village shop, as his donkey wouldn't wait for him. I was glad anyway as it was a 1 km out of my way.

I haven't done a "up at 4am, riding at 5am , ride into the afternoon" ride for awhile. I told Paulo we would fix his bike when I came home Friday evening. I got home around 8pm and was too tired (or lazy) to fix his bike.

I set the alarm for 4am , reset it to 5am ( i thought) and got up just before 5am. It is amazing it can take an hour getting ready and breakfast consumed but there you go. At 6am i then spent an hour fixing his bike and a broken spoke on my bike.

Not a new ride, this is one of my classic rides done every year or so. Today was special as rumors were it has rained out that way and I was looking forward to some green grass instead of the parched land around Arusha, which you will see towards the end of this trip.

Besides a classic ride in search of green grass, I wanted to check the progress of the tarring the Great North road.
It has reached about 10km from my house but some parts are off limits to cars but we weaved in between the stones to avoid the rough dusty temporary detour.While on this "under construction " road you don't see much as about 100 meters are ripped up, graded , messed up, and then ten meters are paved. It is about as attractive as being in a burnt out war zone. When I turn off the highway there is my green grass. Paulo says he is tired and he turns around for home. I wisely ride down a cattle trail westerly. Cattle trails get bigger and bigger and move over ever few years when the heavy rains make the trails into ravines.

The inevitable obnoxious herd boys start yelling and hassling me. I guess this is what riding through Ethiopia is like. I think this area needs more psychologists.

I ride through an eroded section and take a video. I HAVE to get a helmet cam camera.

I get off the Lengijave plains and coast and coast down a rough jeep track. I meet a battered land cruiser with some wazungu passengers and we both wonder what in the hell are they doing here.
In hind sight I should of gone down the track to where it levels out some and then head southerly and take that plain closer to Monduli mountain. Appears to me like I would by pass the steep escarpment but would have to do some canyons. Next time!

It is really nice out here, wide open spaces, I see some gazelles and bustards and herds of goats and cows but only meet up with a handful of herd boys and one adult. The adult wanted to show me the way and tried to run with me, which lasted a few minutes.
Looking the other direction.

Then I come to the dreaded escarpment. Right from the beginning it is unrideable for me.

I talked about this part in the beginning of this post.

At the bottom I stopped briefly at the water tank, finished my juice and washed my head and filled that bottle for doing the same later. Not much rain down here. Some civilizied looking guys says I should go down to the shops and then take the road. The donkey herder had said follow him so i followed the donkey and then left them behind.

Now i climb again, up to the Monduli juu plateau. I gradually climb from 1220m to 1500m and then steeply up to 1980m or so.

Looking back in the steep part.

On one of the "7 corner" switchbacks . The road is excellent, very smooth and hard, even so I cant beat a man and herd of goats who are going straight up.
On top I take my first serious food break and try to eat a whole sandwich. I can't finish a pb sandwich but I drink a thermos of milk tea and eat a banana.
The coast down to Monduli town is great as always. 9 miles of 40-60kph smooth dirt. I don't see any elephants but I am moving too fast anyway. It has only been an hour or so but i stop for a coke and water in a restraunt in Monduli town. I put another coke and water in my water bottle.

I debate with myself to take the tarred road back to the airport or see if going straight to Ngaremtoni is shorter. It is 31km instead of 37km and takes two hours. Not sure which is best . I have to pass through a dozen narrow steep washouts. this was one of the easier ones. This is one of the most eroded areas in Arusha region.

I am following a very old road that is only evident by filled up culverts and cut banks and this building. I wonder what its history is.

Sometimes I have no idea if I am on this old road until is see something like this culvert showing that once the road went across this valley and there was just a couple of culverts, where now there is a 30 foot wash out.
I make it home after 8 hours riding 105 km in 9.5 hours.

No great adventure but a fun ride.


  1. Was that water on the surface of the wash out 'road'? How high were the lumps along the sides of the bike track?
    One other photo looked like the starting of the formation of another Grand Canyon. Uff Da
    After seeing this video, the site indicated 2 more of your videos. One was in the Pare Mts. I could hear the birds singing! Beautiful. Love Byrna

  2. @byrna That wasn't water at that time. 1/2 the ride had received little rain the past week, the other 1/2 was green. Those lumps were about 6-12 inches high. Sometimes i had to stop pedaling. It was harder material so didn't erode the same.

    Yeah some pretty big erosion. that area should not be cultivated, should be left to grass.

    We seem to have more birds around the house now. there are alot of golden pitpit last weekend.

  3. Hi Erik,
    Laura and Terry McDonald here. We enjoy reading your blog, as it reminds us of our years in Arusha, especially when we headed out into the porini.
    This last blog, about "Same old boring ride", was particularly poignant for us, as our Maasai askaris from when we lived at St. Constantine's school, live out there. We would go occasionally to visit them, not by bike, but in our Land Cruiser. Our truck would be packed with all sorts of supplies, food, goats, people (it looked like a daladala!)
    We would take the Monduli Juu road, then around the north side of Monduli and down Kona Saba. Then off the road almost due east (looking back toward Mt Meru), which was a challenge as we had to negotiate a few small korongos and one big one. By the time we reached the boma it was about 2 hours from Arusha. Dry season only!
    Baraka's boma (Lat. 3˚11'31.55"S, Long 36˚28'45.11"E - visible on Google Earth) is tucked under the base of a small rise on the north side of Monduli Mt. It is about a 600m walk north to the water tank and water trough. Kalanga's boma is another 2.1km walk east through the acacia-commiphora bushland, up a small rise. Sometimes when Baraka and Kalanga walked home from SCS they would take the route you biked. Other times they would take the daladala from outside St. Constantine's to Monduli Juu and walk the rest of the way. As you can imagine, they loved it when we drove them. Terry, Allison and I loved it too. Talk about true hospitality. I will never forget the delicious cups of tea Baraka's wife made for us, sitting in her darkened, smokey nyumba.
    The next time you are out there by the water tank, if you have the opportunity, please pass on our warm regards to Baraka and Kalanga, from Mwalimu McDonald and Mama Allison. We remember them every day with great fondness.
    Glad to hear it has been raining.
    Warm regards to Bernice!
    Laura & Terry