Riding starts early. Nevertheless, only the very best riders escape the heat of the day.
The riders are very well supported by these trucks. There are one or two coke stops during the morning, then lunch, end-of-day protein rich soup, and finally dinner. They are also the trucks that sweep the road to collect stragglers and provide a place for you and your bike to collapse into when you’ve had enough.
On an endurance ride like this it’s sometimes just about survival: get up, pack tent away, ride, put up tent, eat, sleep… get up, pack tent, ride, put up tent, eat, sleep. Rest days don’t offer that much rest in between bike love and care, finding air time, washing, catching up on mail, and finding food. TDA doesn’t provide food on rest days, ‘when you are free to discover the local cuisine’. In some of the villages that sounds a little euphemistic.
I’ve often thought that swimming must be the loneliest sport, and cycling can’t be far behind. Although the group is quite large, it’s not so easy, or safe, to chatter when you’re on a strange road. In any case you can easily be riding on your own at times, either ahead of or behind your friends. Andy told me about being harassed by a couple of local riders, riding alongside him, trying to get him into conversation. He didn’t want their company and finally got away from them…to discover a little later that they had removed a water bottle and small tool kit from his bike without his noticing! Not very friendly…
The tummy troubles recur, maybe the coke will help. Andy could only think of 3 or 4 people who had not been sick at some time in the past weeks. I went to see my own doctor this week because I had flu. It was interesting to watch his face.. horror… incredulity… when I described the conditions of heat, mountains and sickness that the riders are coping with. Then he said ‘And they’re paying to do this?’
Straw dogs, Ethiopian style
But he’s surviving, looks fit, sounds strong. I still don’t think he quite realises what an enormous adventure he’s taken on, and how fit he has become in the past 50 days. 10 days to go until the half way point and some easier roads ahead.
Today they crossed the border at Moyale into Kenya. Now there’s two days riding to Marsabit and a rest day. Trip Advisor has become my go-to for everything to do with going places. Wherever in the world there are travelers there will be accommodation, and the Chicho Guest House in Marsabit has great reviews from a host of people who’ve stayed there..caring host, hot water, comfortable beds…and wifi! The reviewers themselves sound an interesting bunch, researchers, field workers, other cyclists.
I have a slight concern that tomorrow night’s camp is called Lava Rock Camp…it may not be a soft landing…