21 November 2011

Passing the baton

Last week two of my age mates schemed to ride bikes up mtn meru, then do a recce by foot on "old routes" up the mountain.

We tried to get their 20-30 year old boys to come, one my godson, but they opted for clubbing the night before. I think the real reason is they know we are old, and we are slow. We thought different at the time.

" Yeah we can do it"
" Yeah man , instead of straight up 7 switch backs, lets go up on West meru plateau with bikes."
"That means we can ride bikes higher"
"Yeah then we can be above tree line fast' "
"Dude lets do it"

So Tadayo, Maiko, and the usual meet before dawn my house and ride in the dim light. No mechanicals but my tyre needs pumping twice before the slime takes over. (BTW I can buy slime in a couple of different shops in town now! Way cool.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, so we cross the ngaremtoni river canyon. Complaining about how steep and rocky it is . you carry and lift the bike. Suddenly the green turns to dusty forest and we slog up the logging road. Luckily, there is no traffic.
We stop for our first view, below, but as serious adventurers we keep going to breakfast up on top. You have read of my physical deficiencies, but other people have one year old fake hips, and another has a leaky heart valve.
Lousy phone camera. I need a camera mom! The last one Bernice (mom) bought was really nice, shock and water proof and took better pictures than I can snap.

I swear Thadayo is on that road over there. We take this contouring road to avoid passing through a forest gate up on the plateau. It is also fun to ride level and look down on Lengijave and Kilima Moto hills.

We get back in to a rain pattern and pass a peach grove. Yep you read right. Unfortunately we are a month early. Peaches grow fairly well up here and worms seem less of a problem.

We pass back into national forest that has been clear cut and planted with potatoes.

Now I know why the 20 year olds opted out. They know we are damn slow. They will party all night wake up at 9 am catch us at noon. We are moving pretty slow now and keep checking if the brake is rubbing or there is a flat, or a buddy is holding onto the seat for a tow. Something is making the bike heavy.

We had stopped down there in this valley. Just to catch our breaths but ended up laying down and eating some snacks. Not breakfast mind you. We are serious and need to keep going. I adjust my rear deraileur so that the 7 speed shifter shifts on the higher 7 gears of the 8 speed cassette. Confused? I needed the smallest gear. I was pretty impressed, I was able to do that in about 30 sec.

Ffinally up on the plateau in a short section of native forest. Mike carrys his hiking gear in a backpack! I have everything on the bike.

The plateau is still plenty of uphill, infact mostly up hill. Even the flat started to be hard work. Bionic man is suffering understandably. Time was he was the crazy fit one. This is him below, on a flat stretch trying to coast. We now have turned the cornor and are in heather country. Old fire cleaned out the trees. Moor land is fun to be in except we are now 2800m.

Finally we stop for breakfast about 11;32 am. We carefully put our bikes aside and sprawl on grass. Grass about as cushiony you can imagine. It is like sitting in a bean bag chair. We talk about our aches and about how tough and strong we are. We change the objective from "walk above vegetation line" to "Lets walk for about an hour or so."

Thad remembers from 20 years ago that you have to whack through here and eventually get to animal trails. We bush whack, back track, and eventually are on a old faint track that sometimes seemingly dissappears.

We walk up on top of one ridge and about 1300 decided we should wisely turn around as even coasting down might be difficult in our state.

Once on the bike it was about 90 minutes to Ngaremtoni, 95% coasting, 1/2 on bone jarring rocky road. It is tiring on the arms. My headset losens up.

We cycle through the trashy urban sprawl of Ngaremtoni, unfortunately this is what Africa is like folks. It isn't so much filthy, it is dust and trash that has blown around on the roads. There is a huge sea of humanity on these roads. Get the picture?

We make it home around 1700 and the boys arent too keen to start driving and loiter over a glass of koolaid and a look at Bernice's rock garden. Tadayo takes a cutting and discusses plants.

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