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.