17 April 2011

How far to bicycle from Arusha to find a non Swahili Speaker?

Two hours.

Two hours is how long I bicycled to find someone who does not speak the national language, Swahili. Before I explain that , let me list the alternative titles for this ride post:

1- I seem to ride alone on weekend rides. I send out on a biking mailing list but no takers. Is it my company? my reputation for going far? everyone busy? or what? I don't mind going alone, and sometimes prefer it , but it would be nice to ride long rides with someone. I am going to stop posting invites myself and ask others to do it.

2- Still more adventures out there. There are some trails/roads within riding distance I haven't found yet that are pretty cool. I was thinking because of leaving mid day that I would not go anywhere interesting or new. Not true. I need to be more innovative in exploring some blank areas, like today. One hour and I was on an interesting track in the bush.

3- I broke my brooks saddle rail. Breaking a seat could of changed the ride dynamics. I was able move the seat forward and it held. Still wondering what to make of it. My beloved Brooks saddle that is conformed to my sit bones. Can I weld it? I fretted over the cost.

So here is how the ride panned out. I was lazy and sat around with the family all morning. It was not until 1pm that I started off . I figured I would not get anywhere interesting as I only had about 5 hours of riding time.

The first hour was a "transport stage" north up the highway to Lengijave. "Transport stages" are sections where I ride the bike purely for transport to get to the "beginning" of a good ride. The road north only has a few km left of gravel as it is being redone. It is interesting scenery except i have seen it a zillion times. I am riding this just to get somewhere else.

Normally I go around the north side of Lengijave mountain and down the open grassland. This time I rode up a valley on the south side. Iit has been ten years since I have used this road, not since family Guzinski lived up here in the 80's and 90's

I ride up the valley and through this small pass.
It is still transport stage.

After the pass, all of a sudden I have this vista.
My camera lens is not smudged, that is a light rain falling. I will ride down on the left.

The road then contours a ridge leading up to Monduli Mountain. The view is spectacular. However I want to see what the plains below are like.

It sprinkles a little while I scrutinize the slopes below for a trail to take down into the plain. I ask an old man the best way down. After convincing him that I don't need a jeep track, he shows me the best track.

I ride the brakes as it is bumpy and loose sand. In a few minutes it is less steep and smoother and I can almost let the brakes go. I am doing 40kmph. There are no houses but herds spread out here and there.

Now in the picture it is still downhill but only slightly, enough i only coast.

I have come down from up there.

I decide to check out the crossing of the korongo before turning back home. I can almost ride the whole way down, but I do one endo in that shady part. I remained standing while the bike did the endo. (what if i broke a leg ?)

The other side has too much soft sand in places so I walk. Half way up the far side I start riding again and I notice my seat feels crooked. I stop and notice the rail is broken on one side!

I panic for about 5 seconds, and am bummed out for longer that I will have to buy a new seat. ($100). I take out my tools, slide the seat forward so the clamp is clamping both sides of the rail and eat some trail mix.

I deliberate for a minute whether to continue going farther away from civilization. As the real ride only started 50 minutes ago I choose to continue. The wide trail suddenly becomes a path, and a small one at that.

I come to another canyon, with 5 foot drop offs on the rim (picture on left). I find a place to climb down (below the cloud) and lift the bike down. I have to walk the bike down and up the other side. I continue on the small trail into a clump of trees.

Here I find the first non Swahili speakers. Two 8 year old herd boys. Swahili is the national language. It is exactly 2 hours riding time, 30km. I try to give them some trail mix but they are afraid to come close to me. I ride on towards the forest I can see a few km ahead. I come to several bomas on the edge of another big korongo. I talk to a teenager about the way across.

I can see the seven cornor road up to Monduli Juu. Maybe an hour away if I can find good tracks. Definitely the fastest way around Monduli mountain. The last time I circumnavigated Monduli I looked back on this route. Now there is just a small blank spot to figure out.

I ride to the edge and check it out but figure I better turn around.

I backtrack through the two canyons. In the second one instead of following the way I came I cut straight across. It is a bit of a scramble and bike carrying. I make a mistake and go through a side canyon also.

Once out of the canyon I cant find any track, so I ride over the grass clumps for a few kms in the direction I know a track exists and find the track going up to Lengijave. This time I take the right fork, where only foot traffic passes and i think it is better.
I can't find the embed tab on you tube.

I ride through the weird cutout.....

and onto the upper Lengijave plains together with 20 separate herds all going home. I swallow their dust as I pass one herd after another. at 6pm I am at the highway and buy two cokes in a jiffy and jump back on the bike. It is mostly downhill home. I had opted not to wear a helmet and now I wish I had as the speed is sometimes too fast and there is traffic.

I am home by 630. Happy I was able to have a couple hours adventure out in the bush.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:01 pm


    Are you still living in Arusha. I've just moved here and am looking to buy a bike here and go on cycles..

    Would be great to join you on one of your trip?