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.