29 April 2012

Who me race?

This was supposed to be a picture of the men's finish, 3 guys battling it out at the finish . They are visible if you zoom. The next picture was of my foot, so I think I had a senior moment after taking this.

Story behind the picture
The bike club I belong to had it's annual road race. The past 4 years it was multi day race including sleeping in another town one night. That is pretty cool. So they scheduled to try for 5 days, 6 stage tour .


Then they got more ambitious going to international races and in the past six months:
-one day road race in Rwanda
-sent a team to 6 to Rwanda to train with their national team for 3 weeks
-sent 4 guys to All Africa championships in Eritrea
-sent 6 to tour of Rwanda for a week
- sent top U23 rider to South Africa for 2 months with UCI training camp

The outcome was all other countries invite us to their races and invited to attend UCI camps, and National team was sent 10 new bikes, etc.the other outcome was the club is broke as a club, and sponsors said we have given enough.

So all that to say that the 5 day stage race was pared down to 3 days, then in the end a one day race. I had stated I didn't want to spend 5 days racing but as nothing much was going on that day I went along to the race for the ride.

Prepared? You kidding. I drank too much, i ate whatever, and when I got up I found the crank bearing froze on my rode bike.

I couldn't believe it. It was froze, then it would move but barely. So I somehow managed to get the bottom bracket out, then i got the sealed bearing out and soaked it and then it was pretty good but not 100 % free and I rode off to the start.

There is a category for over 45years and i am 56 and the oldest of 5 in that category. Mike tells me I have to beat Frank from Bagamoyo.We all get in buses and go 70km to good road. More waiting and standing around.

My plan is to try to hang on the first 35 km to the bottom of the rift valley escarpment, where we climb like 300m steeply over Manyara National Park.

For some reason the real racers decide to start out fast and furious, well fast for me. There are several rollers and by the second I was out of breath and heart was redlining and I was thinking "whoa, I cant do this much longer". I think when they go up a hill they increase effort by 20% but 50% for me.Luckily it was gently rolling and the adrenaline wore off a bit and I caught my breath. There were occasional spurts that made me nervous. We were now down to 40 riders.

Thad and Mike weren't visible and I was hoping they were hanging on the back. I was trying to stay mid pack and off to the side. I was nervous about crashes. Frank from Bagamoyo and Jax from Dar were visible. Frank said he felt good.

There were a few sketchy place with road under repair and a section with some potholes. About the pothole time a kid next to me suddenly swerved and his bike slid towards me and I heard a horrible crash.

A few seconds later I could look back and I saw the second half of the peleton stopped and 10-20 bikes down. Ouch. Frank had been right behind me and went down.

We now crested the ridge of Losimongori and had a fast descent into Manyara basin. Things settled down with a few guys going up the road. Once or twice some real serious attempts from groups but they were always caught and slowed down.

I started to talk with people and relaxed.

Five km out from Mto wa Mbu town is a subvillage with of businesses and some speed bumps. The racers must of known they were bad as they picked up the pace so they had enough speed to jump the rumble strips before and after the bumps. They were really bad. I was lucky not to fall down and felt a bit out of control. There are rumble strips and bumps in Mto wa Mbu town but worn and not horrific so we cruised through town towards the climb.

Kids told me, 'good going grandpa'. they new this would be the last they would see of me.

I went quickly out the back at the climb and then saw Jax and a under 17 years guy drop off 50 m ahead. I was hoping to catch Jax. So, now I was racing, competing. damn.Instead of catching Jax I lost more and more ground on the climb. the masters and under 17's and women turn around was at the top and Jax and 2 under 17 came flying by 100m from the top and 200m from turn around. I turned around and ate some snickers.I didn't push the descent but kind of enjoyed it. curves and baboons.

I saw Thad, Frank, and another mzee from Dodoma were slogging up the hill.I was all alone now. I couldn't see Jax. should i wait for Thad?

I felt okay so pushed on alone without waiting. After Mto wa Mbu I noticed a kid coming up from behind so I slowed and we worked together, then another 3 came up including Mika who was now disqualified as he turned with the young, women, and old. Interesting my first partner did not want to wait for them. Now with five we picked it up a bit and I felt even better during the rest behind. In another 10 km the 3 kids started to tire one by one and not do much work and they kept trying to stay in the back.

After some 15 km of this and 10km to go I told Mika that if they don't help we will drop them the last 2km. With 5km to go there is a long gradual uphill that makes the draft negligible. Mika thought I told him to go in front and pull hard to drop them. I just couldn't hold on, and then Mika was pulling them on a false flat and I fell back 300 meters. Now in the rollers I found the ups difficult and didn't push.

Anyway I got 2nd place for old men.

Now we had to wait for the racers, and then the stragglers, and a lunch and awards and it was 7pm by the time I got home.

23 April 2012

Lighting system

Single track is for kids.

I managed to get out both Saturday and Sunday for ~4 hour rides. There was a scheduling thing so Junior Hemed came alone on Saturday. Junior is grade 11 and I met as a school leader. On Sunday there were 5 of us and including another two students. I chose the exact same ride for motivational purposes. After one struggles to climb high up on Mnt Meru you are rewarded with 10km of riding like this. We all like down hill single track through trees, but it is really for kids and the kid is us over the hill wannabes.

The other commutter riding off in the rain

although it doesn't look like it was raining it was raining.

15 April 2012

Airport shuttle

I travel by plane 6 to 10 times per year to Dar es Salaam for work or board meetings of TzNIC.

Which means some excessive use in fossil fuels. The shuttle to airport is public transport so okay, but in dar I use Taxi. And of course the plane ride is immoral, LOL.

I have posted before that I need a bike in Dar to get around as I can spend 40,000 to 100,000 shs on taxis and often get caught in traffic jams. I haven't worked out a bike for my use in Dar yet.

Saturday I was booked on the 750am flight from KIA (Kilimanjaro Int Airport) to Dar. The Shuttle leaves at 5am from Arusha Town Center, which means I have to leave our house in a car at 445am to wait in the shuttle so i can wait at the airport. Last checkin is 40 minutes before departure.

So crazy me decided to try biking from home to the airport, about 55 km away in the dark with my overnight bag.

I got out of bed at 4am, packed, made coffee, showered,strapped my overnight bag on top of front rack and started riding at 5am. I was planning to depart earlier. So I left later than I would of if I had been going to use the shuttle!

I had one pannier with bike stuff (rain gear, tools, spare tubes, lock, etc) and some stuff from my overnight bag . The overnight bag was pushing the front light down, so I had to adjust how I had strapped the bag on.

At 5am there are a few pedestrians and sparse traffic. My lights showed me the road, and most of time I could ride in the middle of the lane. There were times when for 5 minutes no car passed me.

My lights need to be a bit brighter stil, as when there was other light sometimes I couldn't see the road well. In addition it was drizzling off and on , which made the road darker and absorb light.

I didn't push hard but wasn't going slow either. It took about and hour to pass Usa River in the dark. On downhills i would brake a bit.

It got light after 610 am and the wind increased against me. I began to worry I might not make the 40 minutes cut off before a flight. I increased the pace and started to sweat. The last 10 km flat stretch my speed slowed and then I turned off to the airport realizing I would make it 50 minutes before take off.

Except I found getting permission for storing my bike somewhere was taking more time than I budgeted so I gave up on inside a locked parking lot and I left it with a curbside baggage handler to deal with. He was helping me anyway. People were a bit surprised someone showed up on a bicycle. I found they were not even checking in people yet (bad sign) so I had time to take a sponge bath and change my clothes in the rest rooms.

The Flight was canceled and we were all booked at 1030. I missed the first two hours of the meeting but got to talk to an Austrailian girl who has a boyfriend here. She had seen me on the bicycle on the way to the airport, and was surprised.

Coming back I was booked from Dar on the 0720am flight. I got a taxi to drop me, 20,000shs. As usual I knew at least one person on the flight, and this time it was my friend Gijs who owns Moivaro Lodges. He introduced me to Nyaga Mawalla , a famous lawyer and client of ours. I have never met him. He praised our Habari Node Ltd .

Anyway I brag to Gijs about riding my bike to the airport, but accept a lift with him so we can keep talking on the ride back to Arusha. They dropped me on my side of town and I cycled home. What would of made it better is to have ridden bikes with Gijs to Arusha and talked for two hours instead of one.

So what was the biggest issue? The biggest issue is getting permission from my wonderful wife Bernice to ride alone in the dark.

The next step is to try biking in Dar, followed by biking the whole 650km to Dar in 1.5 days.

13 April 2012

Weight difference

Steve Friberg was returning from the USA this month so I ordered by mail items I cant find here:
-O2 Rainshield Rain jacket
-o2 Rainshield Rain pants
-brooks saddle
-brake pads

They came last night. This morning I took out the crap raincoat and pants out of my bag and put in the new bright yellow ones. At work I was surprised how light my bag is now. I hadn't notice riding but carrying in my hand i noticed.

Bring on the rain! I am ready to commute in downpours.

05 April 2012


More spares

Life gets better and finding used spare parts gets better.

It starts with something negative.
On way to work, I ride through a neighbors plot with thier barbed wire fence down on the ground. Somehow it gets caught in my front tire, it comes up and breaks my front fender and I go on the ground. Of course it is in front of the builders on the plot next door.

So I stop at the used bike shop on the way to work and place an order for a fender. While snooping around Goodie brings out a complete shimano wheel set. It has internal dynamo and shimano light, AND the special wire connector! I want it!

He also shows me a low rider rack, some fork clamps. A day later I have the fender and new wheel set. the light is not as good as my LEDs but I now have two dynamos on this bike

One of the lights I found. I made the mount out of steel flatbar. A bit heavy. It sits nicely out of the way of everything.

I wanted a front rack and have found a number of them, but my fork doest have brake mounts on each fork. So i was thinking of having them brazed on. Then Goodie came up with these clamps! they work great.
When my bike got stolen I lost the last of my rear blinkys. I tried to find a 6v one to run off my dynamo but couldnt so for now i taped a reflector over another light and mounted backwards.

I find two mismatched pieces of metal to bolt on the fender mount so the lower panniers hooks are hooked here.

Stubborn or Fortitude?

Wednesday morning is my day to take the morning off and meet with my club at 7am and ride ~60km. Mostly the middle part is allot of interval training.

Yesterday it was raining hard and another age challenged rider said he wasn't going. Nashesha was having issues getting out the door and on her bike, so decided to ride with her to school and then ride alone for couple of hours.

It rained lightly all the way to her school and then started to rain harder and harder as I rode towards Oldonyo Sambu.

Eventually it was pouring and blowing at me. I had on a rain jacket but my shorts were soaked. It occurred that maybe I should just turn around but I kept going .

I then reflected upon the fact I just kept going out of stubbornness. I suppose that is how i get through everything in life. I just keep going .