30 December 2013

Maxed out.

I have ridden around Monduli Mtn in a day almost a dozen time. So why would I do it again? Here we are comtemplating the route up that excarpment.  The tan slash is a rocky short trail to the top.
I could claim it is a classic ride with fantastic scenery and fun descents. However today it boils down to being a litmus test for my fitness.

The circuit is 100km +/- and 1600meters elevations gain and loss.  A mixture of  tarmac, good road, bad road, and some trail. If you want there is 200m vertical on steep rock trail in the picture above.

John and Amanda meet me at my house and we ride clockwise.   I need to mention they are in training for a 7 day race in south america and are very fit.
We have several options for the first section to Monduli town. We choose the very very old road to Monduli town. It gets more washed out each year and this time the washouts were deeper. It took almost 3 hours to get to Monduli town. Next time I will try going way up the mountain into the forest and down as we did a fair mount of route finding and up and down.

Riding through the wheat farms of Likamba.  It was greener than it looks and no dust.

We  left the fog around Mnt Meru behind.

Friendly kids getting their entertainment.

Huge erosion canyons.

Next section is riding up a good road through a thick forested valley to Monduli Juu plateau.

Then rolling road on the plateau.

Then long downhill and hairpin switchbacks to Mfereji.

More gentle down hill.

And past the 1/2 way mark up the escarpment.  first third we pushed, then two carries of the bikes.
John showing the method.
that is Amanda way ahead.  I carry everythign on my bike and racks and tools.  My bike was heavy.
I have been more tired at the top but the ride accross the plains on top of the escarpment did me in. I was tired enough and started to waste energy wrestling the bicycle, I fell down. I had to adjust my brake. I had to walk twice. And i was tired. the reason i wanted to go clockwise was so that the final 15km is downhill. I think my brake was rubbing a bit at this point but I was in survival mode to get home. At home i managed to lay on the couch the rest of the day. we were out about 10 hours.

18 December 2013

Back riding with the hotshots

There are too many reasons why I haven't been a regular on Arusha Cycling Club wednesday morning rides. I made this one that was a mtn bike ride. Lots of them waiting for me. Lots of climbing and a long fast descent. It was spectacularly green up in the forest and no dust, no mud, perfect conditions. I must say this, that afterwards I feel great physically and emotionally.

10 December 2013

Changing traffic light sequence and turning right at traffic lights.

First, half of the current 6 readers live in North America.  North Americans keep in mind Tanzanians drive on the left (see * footnote), so a right turn is when you cross the oncoming traffic, opposite to what North Americans do.

I have two lights to navigate on my commute.  The second light is where I have to make a right turn. 

It used to be that the right turn light went just before the straight light.  So I could get in between the cars up front and felt safe.

 A month ago they switched and now the straight goes first, and no way do I want to be in between as they speed straight through the intersection.  Arusha drivers are a "in a rush" breed and I don't want to be there.

the options were :

1.  go straight like a pedestrian, then wait again to go straight again on my road.  I am a "in a rush" Arushan , that will add a minute or two to my commute.

2. Sit in the right turn lane but behind a car turning right.  I haven't tried that but I suspect that would make "in a rush" drivers fidgety, worrying that i will slow them down through the light .

3.  Sit in between and hope everyone sees me.  We have a few drivers, usually drivers of Foresters, who might try to overtake a slow moving truck in the intersection.  (Yes unfortunately it does happen.)

4.  Sit on the far left.  wait for the light to change.  wait for all the cars (certainly any Forester) running the red light straight.  Then cross in front of the straight lane and make my right turn with the cars.

Now bicyclists in North America and militant about not doing #4 (but opposite) , but this is what motorizied vehicle drivers like them to do.

I am reluctantly doing # 4 . 

The worst part is waiting for the people running the red light straight (patience erik),  followed by  I am the entertainment for the cars waiting to go straight.  They all start being helpful thinking i am going straight and yell at me to "go, go , go".

It is a tough life commuting.

* There are times when Tanzanian drivers drive on the right, in fact sometimes they drive on the far left in the shoulder.  When traffic backs up then 20% start going anywhere there is room, including the oncoming traffic lane.

04 December 2013

Paulo needs a better job

Paulo Rukoine amoung other duties escorts my daughter to and from school. She has to pass through 500 meters of forest usually devoid of people, hence need for company. She could ride on roads but they are too busy. Paulo came about 14 years ago as a night watchman. He has been faithful and reliable as a night watchman. Along the way he went to more courses and knows english, computers, some french and took a tourism guide course. It is a waste of human resources for him to be a night watchman. Find him a job.

29 November 2013


If you are a regular reader you remember white biker chick. Now she is plain Amanda. Thanks Amanda for this picture. First I can't remember to take a camera, second i cant remember to take pictures, third I am weak man on the team so I can't stop for pics and get further behind . That includes Amanda who can whip my ass and all the other dudes on this ride. Not only is she stronger but going over the technical stuff she makes us look like novices. Luckily there was another old fat guy along. Back to the picture. In the middle of the Sunday 5 hour ride we ride through this wooded basin almost like a crater. While viewing the spot the owner climbed up the rim and we talked about trees, water, rain, where he gets his water, etc. All the normal stuff.
When we got near the road we split into three groups. I just went the fastest way home which was almost and hour away. I even had to stop for a coke. Either I am old or I am out of shape.

28 October 2013

28 August 2013


Trust me there was biking on this trip. Although technically a Sub 24 hour Overnite is done withing a 24 hour period we missed the deadline and were gone 25 hours.

After hiding the bikes there is a well used trail.
We cross a road and take a small trail.
In the old forest we finally see the mountain pretty close.
There is a seasonal pond in a small plateau, that makes a great place to have lunch.
an hour later we fill up with water for the night and morning
Making breakfast on the Little Bug stove.


The word (and the actual tail wind) probably doesn't stir much emotion from most people.  To a bicyclist getting a tailwind is about as good as it gets.  bicyclists think and talk about the wind during and after the ride. 

When I used to run I used to think about sections with dogs, as a bicyclist I think about sections in terms of the prevailing wind. 

I push the wind to work, and coming home let it push me along for 1/2 the way.

So I wish you all a tailwind (in whatever you do) today.

15 August 2013

Cross Training (or using bicycle as transport to a hike)

I don't train, I ride a bike.  Makes sense to ride a bike to a hike

We stashed the bikes in these bushes after riding 16km up 600m. That took less than two hours.
Immediately we starting seeing large troops of Colubus monkeys in the trees.  they "run" through the treetops, leaping from branch to branch.  there is black and white colubus monkey in the middle of picture below.
After walking up a steep ravine on a foot trail we reach this road and walk on it for 200meters and notice a small track and take it.

On the small trail we gain elevation very quickly.  It is steep enough that I go to rest step method. 
Then it gets just steep and we are in thick forest with a reasonable trail.
Then it get easy grade on a well defined ridge and I can actually walk at a fast gait now.
Once in awhile we get a glimpse out of the forest

There is a trail there somewhere.  We pass through a section of stinging nettles. I put on long pants brought just for that reason.  It works mostly but not completely.

Lots of flowering going on.

I have turned on the GPS tracking and Erik Mdogo wonders why.

We reach the stream that used to be our landmark.  I haven't been here for 10 years or so.

 We went another 5km and climbed 700m from the bicycles.  Found a huge tree growing parallel to ground.  on the upper side was wide and there was soil and grass growing.

We somehow took a wrong turn coming back.  I had the GPS on but it kept timing out the screen and going to zoomed out.  We were maybe 50 meters off the trail but down a very steep slope of the ridge and in thick undergrowth.  With GPS tracking got back on the track.  Erik a convert to GPS useage.

Got back and found the bicycles still hidden , loaded them up. and coasted home for an hour. 
Some people got dirty.