28 December 2012

Meru Hike

this was to be a day climb of Mnt Meru. It is complicated. We had a permit for the forest part but it was forgotten in the 4am departure from Mike's house. So the vehicle that dropped us off was stopped and held. We thought it was held by the national parks instead of the forest. So we had to turn around. In the end we walked down while the permit was being driven up to the car. found a new trail for the bicycle along a deep canyon. So i can post this walk in a bike blog.

18 December 2012

Too good to turn around

Just about here was my planned turn around place.  It was so great I went " a bit " further.

Sekiji, our bike touring visitor, has another week to kill and he was invited to visit our friends in Ketumbeine.  He planned on leaving Sunday and I planned on riding with him a couple of hours.  

(Edit note:  Originally I had said MY visitor, but at this stage he is OUR visitor.  He has cooked many meals for us.  )

He had a funny noise in the front hub so first we took that apart and found the bearings on one side bad. there was lots of iron filings.  This is what his bearings looked like.  the second from left really shows the pitting.

We started about 10 am riding west  then up and over Monduli Juu plateau.  I carried his rear panniers and we made good time .

  We had lunch in Monduli, another soda in Monduli Juu.  Originally I was thinking of returning about here but riding was great so i opted to go a bit further.  The top came quickly 1930meters elevation so I rode a bit more.  I pointed out ketumbeine and other mountains.  I rode to the edge of the plateau and that was very fun, so I committed at 3pm to make the circle around Monduli mtn.  We parted ways when it looked like this, dry.

We went down seven corners switchback and at the bottom I gave him his saddle bags.  He was hoping to make ketumbeine that night .  I was sceptical.

(the next morning i found out he came up 20 km short and ran out of water in the morning)

It was bone dry and dusty in this area.  I coasted to the village of Mfereji, crossed two very dusty canyons and started up the cattle track to climb the escarpment.  this is hard to carry and walk a bike down.  To go up was just shy of hell.  I started by pushing, then three times i had to carry on my back.  I could do that for about 5 minutes before i had to put the bike down and rest.  I started doubting making it home by dark.  I think it must of been about 30-45 minutes to the top.  I leaned the bike against a tree and drank water.  I fest nauseated and tired.  I forced myself to eat some dates, despite not feeling like eating.  I drank more water while watching a herd of grant gazelle on the open plains.  It is an open plain all the way to the sealed highway 20 km away.  It was 530pm.

I started riding into a headwind, and the dates kicked in and i felt fine.  I picked up speed and made good time on the flat open plain.  the trail was mostly hard.  thirty minutes or so and I started climbing for another 3o minutes and then I was at the top and contoured over to the road.  640pm.  No way i could make it by dark and no lights.

I called mother but she didn't answer.  I began the fast descent of 20km to arusha and she called back and agreed to meet.  I rode fast and just before Ngaremtoni i got a flat on the rear tyre and it got dark.  I t was a good time to move across the road and wait ten minutes for Bernice.

Hmm, except for the steep rocky trail up the escarpment a much better way to circle the mountain.  But then you miss the coast down the wide open plains with a tail wind.  Better time than last time and i carried a load 1/2 way.

All these picture above and below courtesy of Sekiji.
 The Friberg family he went to visit.

07 December 2012


What goes around comes around.  I want to introduce my new friend Sekiji

The Monday after I graduated from college in May 1977 my roommate Dan Miller and I were dropped off on the highway by friends with our big rucksacks and we hitch hiked for 2 months around the USA and me ending in Montreal to fly to stay with may parents in Tanzania.

One of the good experiences was when we were invited "home" and we accepted.
I was amazed and enjoyed most of those experiences.

I have had family and friends come and visit, but about 15 years ago I started "picking up"  long range bicyclists as they rode around the world and inviting them home.  First this started with meeting by chance on the road, then by the website warm showers, and some by word of mouth.  Only one visit was outright negative (a couple that said they were bike touring but were actually hitching and could only talk about themselves and their own beliefs).  Another one was too long and he was sick.

Sekiji is the latest, he emailed a week before he thought he would arrive, then we SMS back and forth.  By the time he came I had checked his website and maybe he had checked me out.  He came on Tuesday evening and has left Friday for four days around Kilimanjaro and then he will come back for a night or two.

I enjoyed watching his movies of his trip.  He learnt Spanish and his Spanish is better than his English.


29 November 2012

Charged my phone on way home from KIA airport

Yesterday I had an "extra-ordinary" board meeting (we are actually called the Policy Advisory Committee) of TzNIC to finish up the budget.  It was a short meeting and I really need to rethink this flying to meetings.

Anyway rode my bike the 65ish km from home to Kilimanjaro airport. I wanted to leave 0445 but left at 0500. Cheusi rode with me for about 40 minutes. I recently rewired my bicylce to put better wires with more protection and to put a toggle switch for the lights and add a E-werk power controller. I will talk about the E-werk later. I thought there was alot of traffic for 5am but it wasn't so bad. Sometimes the oncoming vehicles blinded me, but shading my eyes dramatically seemed to help drivers dim their lights for me. I cranked strongly as I was behind schudule. No stops at arrived at 0700 , exactly two hours riding. The first and last parts had me struglling a bit with wind. Immediately I found Innocent, the caretaker of my bicycle.

So there middle right is my toggle switch for the lights.  There are a ton of clips so I can replace part of the wiring.
Here is a closeup of the E-werk controller.
So I caught the 0710 flight back today.  Found my bike A- OK, loaded up, changed clothes.  Plugged my phone into the E-Werk and charged it while riding home.  The ride home was 3 1/4 hours including a longish breakfast stop in Kikatiti.   It was fully charged when i stopped for breakfast.

Two milk tea, pastry, and water cost $1.25.  In the airport at 6am I had a tea and Croisant for $4.

Back to the E-werk.  So with this devise I can charge any USB device, and several at a time,  I can also wire in other devices and change the output up to 13.3 v.  That is not enough for my current laptop but will work on that. 

Arriving at the office my phone was fully charged off the grid.

On the last climb up to Arusha I passed a guy on a mtn bike and later found him hanging on me.  He hung on as I picked up speed into town, going about 35kph.  Then I heard a big crash and turned to see him down.  He had bad scrapes on his face and arms and a bent crank arm.  I had him wash with my water and sent him with a bystander to a clinic to get cleaned up.  He says he got something in his eye but I think he just lost control from inexperience.

Dave Conroy stayed here and stored some stuff here on his cycle africa trip.  He had too much stuff and left me this USP battery pack, USB strip, and USB AA/AAA battery charger.  So I can charge a bunch of stuff while riding.  Here is was charging them all including the phone.

26 November 2012

It is green!

It rained two weeks ago for the first time in 5 months.  Within a week it greened up and now everything is green and the view is obscured by leaves.

On sunday I opted to check out Monduli Mtn forest.  What was a dusty ride a month ago is now hard packed damp roads and green everywhere.   Higher up in this picture it was actually a bit drier and some dust on the roads due to cattle traffic.

19 October 2012

Even More Suspicious behavior ( or slinking around like a homeless biker)

As you know, there are constant international conferences in the complex where I work. 

This week it was " Sustainable Tourism in Africa's National Parks". Lots of tents, buses idling to take participants to their hotels 5-10 minutes walk away.  Lots of dancing traditional dancers making noise,  TV coverage and other fun stuff. 

On Tuesday I show up and they have given the parking lot where i park my bike to the trinket and exotic clothing hawkers (each i imagine pays a hefty fee).    So I decide to park in the VIP internal car parking lot.  The security guy lets me in but then another security guy comes running over saying " excuse me boss........"  I shrug my shoulders and start whining that I rent 300meters  (3000ft ) of office space and I cant find a place.................   I stop that and slink like a homeless guy out of the parking lot and lock my bike in no man's land behind the shoe shine guys.  the trials of a stealth bike commuter.

15 October 2012

Winter? Fall? Spring?

When a foreigners asks  "what season is it? ", I don't know what to say  . Today it looks like fall to a European, doesn't it?

Living here it makes more sense to talk about the rainy seasons and the dry seasons, the cold season and hot season, although they don't quite go together. We are in transition from cold to hot, and dry to short rainy season. So is this the end of winter? But we don't plant the big crop until the end of the hot season when the big rains come.
Anyway I thought , wow, looks like fall season when I was growing up in eastern Washington state, USA.   So I stopped for a picture.  This is Thomas, son of a friend.  He is hot shot footballer but I can drop him on a bicycle!

We had a dust settling rain so the tracks on the mountain were perfect. Friday at work these massive clouds spilled over mount meru. Unfortunately the rain didn't reach town, but it made the upper roads perfect.

11 October 2012


This is the bookstore I use. It is owned and run by Massawe.

I stop every few weeks or so and we joke a bit and then get down to business. I tell him that I dont have any money and his prices are so high that I will have to go get a bank loan. He smiles and starts looking over what he has, then pulls out 2 or 3 and says these you will like. I take one or two. He has about a 90 % success rate on his choices. He is one of those merchants who make your life easier.

08 October 2012

Not so suspicious today

I have mentioned before where I work, and the building our offices is in, and the security and officialdom stuff associated with our building in previous posts.

Everyone going into the building goes through metal and bomb detectors like at the airport.  Visitors are grilled, passports held, pockets emptied, etc.

EXCEPT some VIPs they open a little gate and they go around the machine.  I noticed that the Director of PRIDE, AICC, top judges at UN ICTR all fall in this category.  So I was wondering if i should apply, as we have almost as much office space as Pride.

Then today, I happened to fall in step with the Directory of PRIDE as he got out of his black Range Rover and I from where I hide my bicycle.  We talked and walked into the security area, and the security jumped up and opened the little gate for us to by pass the machine.  then we talked about it.  He was wearing a suit and me not even a tie and carrying a dirty pannier.

I wonder if tomorrow I will be VIP?

01 October 2012

In case you missed this one............

To the first three people who can identify this crap in the road you will receive a free brake tune up in my workshop.

28 September 2012

Commuting thoughts

I have mentioned it before that the most frequent comment I get from people when discussing bicycle commuting is
"Isn't that dangerous in Arusha town?  I would do it but am afraid."

I  find it interesting that the bicycle commuters in Arusha I talk to all opt for the main roads as opposed to zigzagging on quieter streets, with one exception.

So serious bicycle commuters don't see it as a big issue.

Today I found a long queue of cars all through Sakina.  Man I was glad I was on a bicycle!

Got a flat in the morning.  How inconvenient is that in a car?  I put a patch on in about 7 minutes.

I has been suggested that when people look at me blankly when I talk about bicycle commuting, i should use a different approach.  ask " What? you don't have a bicycle?  you like sitting in traffic?  really? "  then look blankly at them.

25 September 2012

What is it with this guy and his gestures?

How come I am sitting down and everyone else is standing? And do I look more tired than the others or what?

Who was the chick?  White chicks dont ride bikes with us.

24 September 2012

Around Monduli Mountain version 5

(I think it is version 5).  I suppose this is a classic ride for me now.

Depending upon variations it is 105 to 120km to circumnavigate Monduli Mountain from my house.  A mixture of rough trail, dirt roads, gravel roads, and some asphalt.  The route is to the blue slope on the left.  It was 830am and i am still wearing two jerseys.

Hopefully John Corse will get me some pictures to post here later this week.

We left my house close to 7am and rode dirt to ngaremtoni and then the highway to Lengijave,   about 15km on tar highway.  Thomas is stopping to add air so as soon as we turn off onto the dirt and have a view he switches tubes.

The wide open plains were very dry and though there was dust it was blowing away from us from behind.  So it was a fast ride to the edge of the plain.  It was about as much fun a 57 year old can have on a bicycle.   Then a bone jarring descent, followed by a tail wind across another vast plain.  I didn't want it to end.  We saw a gazelle being chased by some domestic dogs, the dogs failed. This is looking back to where we came from.  I live on the right slope of that far mountain.
 We joked that this was BOOOOORRRIIINNNGGG.  But it was as good as it gets biking. 

We opted for the rocky trail down the escarpment as opposed to either
-following a gradual canyon trail.
-staying close to Monduli mountain and going in and out of 10 canyons.

We stopped for breakfast at the top.

I never had to carry the bike this time.  We had to walk almost all of the escarpment.  At the bottom it was thick thick dust to the water tank.  the oil quickly got cleaned off the chain.  We thought we were by passing the water tank but ended up there , then another korongo full of dust and then a good seldom used jeep track up to the graded road switch backing up to Monduli Juu.  I fell behind Thomas Holden and John Corse 5 minutes a couple of times.  We saw some giraffee very close to the track.

The steep escarpment is easily ride able and I wasn't tired at the top like sometimes.  I was feeling pretty smug.  I recalled there are some rollers but they were more than i remembered.  Now I started to slow way down on some hills and felt a bit tired.  The top kept being one more hill ahead. 

then there it was and we swooped down to Monduli Juu village for a soda, and coasted into Monduli district town for a full lunch and sitting in a chair.  for the three of us that cost $6, including a partial refill of water bottles.

We opted for the shorter dirt track instead of going around the main highway.  Later I was wishing we had gone that way and I drafted behind Thomas, as we faced a strong headwind the whole way.  the wind was blowing sand and dust . The worse part was the up and downs and a dozen small canyons to struggle through.

Now i was hurting in the arms, my toes on one foot paining.  I swear i could feel every thread in my underwear.  I have stopped wearing padded bike shorts.

Thomas split off to coast down to his house, the lucky stiff.  John and I headed up more, then through several valleys I had forgotten about.  Then at Likamba the road got thick dust for 5 km.  Eventually we made the tarred highway and the home.

103km this time in about 10 hours.  Slower than the last documented trip.

I dozed that evening at a restaurant much to Bernice's and Mariamu's merriment.  I slept soundly until 630am. 

10 September 2012

Eco rant

Riding a bicycle amongst 2 ton SUV's tends to make me a bit smug.  When I see a big vehicle spewing exhaust on me with advertisement for "Eco tourism" or "buy solar and save the earth" or "Wildlife conservation" I get a bit smug.

Living in a town with more than its share of Naturalists, conservationists, environmentalists, eco tourists, and otherists I am surprised how little we all examine our footprint, myself included.  I realise I am not that much different in the big picture than the SUV drivers.

What I need to work on is the number of times I fly to Dar es salaam, my business of Internet consuming materials, electricity, oil.    I am no different than the people in the SUVs preaching eco tourism. 

03 September 2012

Airport shuttle

Bernice has put her foot down on riding to the airport before 5am.

In compliance I asked my bike buddy Cheusi to be my "shuttle".  He showed up at 430 am and we were on our way at 445am.

 I was surprised by the amount of traffic this time.  Saturday morning?

Anyway the ride to Kilimanjaro Airport was uneventful. 

With first light Cheusi turned around and I cranked on hard.    I arrived 655 for the 750 flight, plenty of time except......

There were no baggage handlers to be seen at the departure area, and none at the arrival area either.  I panicked for a few seconds. 

I rode over to the parking ticket booth and begged a man in the booth to lock my bike to a tree outside the booth.  He to wake a guy sleeping in a taxi for permission.  I locked the bike, rearranged stuff in panniers into my overnight bag and took them all and ran over to the check in counter.  I checked in with plenty of time (5 min).

The check in guy called me back as my pump was falling out of the pannier I hadn't closed completely.  That was good of them.  Now I remembered everyone was extra nice at the airport.  The security guy at the entrance waved me through after I confirmed I was the one who rode bike to airport.  He did hold me for a moment to assure himself that I had found a safe place to park my bike.

I went to the men's room as everyone else stood in a long line to pass through the scanner.
I wet a corner of a small towel i brought along and cleaned some sweat off and changed into my  "Managing Director" clothes.   Stuffed my sweaty jersey, shorts etc into the bag.  There was still a long queue waiting to go through the scanner so I sat down to relax.   I then bumped into my baggage handler buddy Innocent.  So I gave him the key to my lock to take my bike home.  We exchanged numbers AGAIN. 

The next morning I was back at the same airport.  Innocent was nowhere to be seen.

I called him and he said he was at the arrivals side and was coming.  But then in the men's room I bumped into him cleaning it.  Long story short.  I don't know what happened but the tube had 20 lousy patches and was still flat, the bottle cage was broken, and later I found the front rack mounts had slipped down, so even the brake would not work.

Later I think he loaned it to someone who carried a person on the front rack.  Then they rode through some thorns and fell over and stepped on the bottle cage.

  Need to work on Innocent.  He needs to say hey I made a bad judgement and have learnt my lesson instead of creating stories that don't hold water.

I stopped at Pete's on the way home and hung out.  I was a bit tired reaching home.

30 August 2012

Changes and choices

I shy away from changes and choices.

After ignoring the message from  blogspot saying YOU NEED TO UPDATE I did the update which forced me to choose and change . This necessitated me spending a whole hour putting some stuff back and changing the layout.

There are too many choices but I preserved and what you see is what you get whether you or I like it or not.

Well now i have a search on the page, that is good.

If you don't like it I suggest you drink two glasses of wine and then read it.

West Meru Plateau

I was planning on a long slow road ride on Saturday but Thomas said lets do long slow mountain bike ride. We opted for over the West Meru Plateau , hoping that the rain last weekend had settled the dust. It looked good for the first section but once we got above Olmotonyi the main road was 6 inches of dust over loose gravel. We managed to find trails along side and other roads for most of the time, even riding on open forest without trails at times. This time we had clear veiws down once we got off the logging road.
There are several large peach orchards, just flowering now.
It is alot of climbing, from 1350m to 2800m. I couldnt keep up with Thomas nor Matt but didnt feel bad about it.
quite a bit of logging activity on top. No sign of elephants. Matt started to ask about "short cuts" down to the highway. Higher up in the moorland and heather there was no logging and the road was a mellow track. We turned the cornor and had some rolling riding and then it was downhill all the way to the highway Thomas crashed and burned and was covered in dust.
At the road we had a mechanical and Matt was wanting to hop a daladala bus. We knew the feeling, got him to drink a coke, eat, and then we rode together and he drafted right behind and recovered and we were home in another hour or so.


I had to commute a few days on the mountain bike as the raleigh was broke, as I explained in my last post.

 In a few hours  I  had stripped everything off the frame. I noticed that the other chain stay had a small crack and checked the inside of the frame and there was no rust.  Pretty good for a 40 year old bike!

I put it over my shoulder and  took it to a friend with a metal shop on my route to work.   Hashim didn't have gas to braze but took it to someone who brazed and put on piece of pipe. I was appreciative because he knows about metals as he was trained in USSR in the 70's.  Everytime I talk to him he tells me something new about something.  He also helped me clean up the bottom bracket threads.

I spray painted the frame in places and spent a two hours putting everything back together.  I was proud how fast I could do it.  The hardest part was putting the wires for the back taillight.

In the picture you will notice the thicker part of the chainstays behind the bottom bracket.  Not aesthetic but what do you expect from a guy with mono eyebrow.

It rides okay. I lowered the front stem and put on the brooks saddle with the broken rail, which means the seat is a bit forward from before. I would prefer it to be more back but will live with it.

21 August 2012


So I drug myself off the couch and went for a short ride, like 20km out and 20 back. Uneventful, same road as a million times before.  I almost fell asleep from boredom.
Someone in authority added more rumble strips and I was into a headwind coming home so Icouldn't jump them.  They are new and brutal.  The bike jumps all over .  About Ngaremtoni I go over one and suddenly the bike feels mushy.

I stop and check tyre pressure, wheel tightness, bearing play. Everything is okay. It still feels funny but I ride on. Then I notice a new clicking sound, and it is not in the drive train. I stop again. Can't find anything. Ride on.

While i am looking at the drive train while shifting I see the chain stay is cracked!   Not only cracked but broken clear through! (if you dont know what a chain stay is I attached picture at the bottom).

I notice that if I am pedaling it hold the pieces tightly together but if i coast it opens up and becomes mushy.

Damn rumble strips. I curse the fast reckless drivers who have caused TANROADS to put them in. I limp home and eventually use the service dirt road.

On the chainstay tube just where the gear teeth dissappear you see the break, although it looks like a crack.

It is slightly depressing and worrying. Is the frame rotted out? who will braze it? What will I commute on tomorrow?

Well at least I have something to blog about.

20 August 2012


I have 3 confessions today.

1) I haven't done a bike ride other than commuting in two weeks.

2) I don't always like change (at least in technology)

3) Technology often stumps me.

On the weekend I know I have to go for a ride , then I sit around putter around, try to think of a ride, feel guilty for not riding. Do you feel sorry for me yet.

About 2 and 3.
Blogspot wants us all to update to a new format
The old Blogger interface will be removed in the coming months. Upgrade Now."
( and then they say I could lose formatting and layout)

Anyone else tired of 'advances' in technology?

And now on this blog, it doesn't give me a place to go to the dashboard or icon to add a post. I have to go in through the building blog to post something.

I am going to ride my bike, on a road I have ridden 100's to times . Then I host Erik "mdogo" Zweig and "shady" Pete Oneal for another world problem solving session.

19 July 2012

No bike

Family vacation. 5 days of leisurely camping in Natron-Engaruka-Ketumbeine- Gelai Basins.
The roads are pretty much good. This used to be a unimproved track, rough, dusty, tiring.

Lots of wide open space.
First camp next to a dry river bed. No one around but a few zebra, giraffe, gazzelle.

Nashesha got chicken pox the day before we left. Mostly she didnt want it documented.

Man, what a sundowner spot.
Looking out at that huge expanse with a few animals here and there.And the sunset didnt dissappoint.

Next morning. No activity on the volcano this year.

My kind of driving.

My kind of napping place.
My kind of daughter. Leg of goat in the foil
road a bit rough in places
Last stealth camp, under the noses of the bloody south african and american hunting company.