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Meltdown Madness

 Addis Ababa - Nairobi

1-18 March 

1 610 km


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I was glad that 1 March was a nice day, especially since I was not feeling too well.  Fortunately I felt better than I did on the previous day.  On this day we cycled 110 km on tarred road, mostly downhill.  We were now dropping down into the rift valley, and one could see mountain ranges on both sides.  We camped alongside the road in a meadow on the shore of a lake.  It was really nice and green with cows and children all around as.  Before supper we all got into the mini bus and went back to the previous village, where we had a few beers.


I cycled with Lul on 2 March (Lul is an Etiopian rider who joined us from Addis to the Kenyan border).  On this day we covered 115 km, which was again downhill and on a tarred road.  The scenery was changing daily, and now there were acacia trees, with huts and still plenty of cattle.  It was a really great ride, through many villages.  I had been coughing all of the previous night, so we stopped at a chemist in one of the villages and got something for my throat (which was by now extremely sore).  We camped at a kind of lake resort, which had rooms, a restaurant, and a bar.  Our camp site was under some trees on the lake, where we all had a swim.  It made us feel as if we were on holiday.  There were various colorful birds, mostly unknown to me.


On 3 March we cycled 120 km, and the route was very hilly after lunch.  The landscape was changing again, now becoming very tropical and green, with dense vegetation.  I really felt very ill on this day, and I struggled up and down the hills.  By the time I got to the camp I just pitched my tent and went to sleep.  Fortunately I attached the fly sheet to the tent, because it started raining.  I woke up in time for supper, after which I went straight to bed again.


The scenery on 4 March reminded me of Durban, with avoís, pineapples and bananaís along the way.  The 110 km route was extremely hilly, but the scenery was very nice, lush and green.  It was a difficult day, and I did not feel well.  Eddy cycled with me all the way, and waited for me up all the hills.  It felt like I deserved a medal for just completing this day, with such a headache and sore throat.  But I was still luckier than Matt, who collided with a villager at 70 km per hour down a steep hill.  He broke his collarbone and had to leave the Tour, to rejoin us later in Nairobi.


On 5 March we cycled 125 km to the town of Yabello.  The route was once again very hilly, initially through tropical vegetation and forests.  Later we descended to a low lying area where the vegetation was totally different.  We camped at the Yabello Motel.  I felt very tired, the most tired I have been so far on the tour (and I still had to wash the pots!).  Thankfully Bart saw me struggling, and gave me a hand with the pots.  After that I went straight to bed and had a good nights sleep.


We had a rest day in Yabello on 6 March.  We all just ate at the motel, did laundry, and worked on the bikes.  I tried to use the day to recover from my cold, and slept as much as I could.  It seemed to pay off, as every time I got up I felt a lot better.  I still had a terrible cough, but at least it was getting better.  Eddy gave me the last of his flu medicine, which seemed to work.


On 7 March we cycled 130 km on a fairly good road.  The route was again quite hilly, but not as bad as the previous days. The scenery looked more and more like the Kenyan countryside as I remembered it (green hills and short grass).  We stopped at all the local villages for cooldrinks.  I felt a lot better, but was still not 100%.   We set up camp next to the road, and were joined for the night by 4 Swiss travelers in 2 Land Cruisers who had been following us for some time.


We cycled 85 km on 8 March to the town of Mojali, on the Etiopian border.  It was a nice short ride, and as we got to Mojali early we sat in the local shops and drank fruit juice (avo and mango, very nice).  We spent our last Ethiopian money, and changed some of it into Kenyan Shillings.  We crossed the border without incident, and camped about 1 km further on.  It was very hot, and needless to say I was sweaty and dirty.  There was not a drop of water in sight, so I bought a liter and a half of water to have a wash.  I felt much better, and had an early night after supper.


On 9 March we did 80 km on gravel road which was very corrugated, but do-able.  We now had a police escort.  We all got to camp early, and it was nice to have a short day for our first day in Kenya.  Supper consisted of spaghetti and mushrooms, which was nice as we hadnít had this before.  I had by now used up all Eddyís flu medicine, and all Gillieís Vitamin C.  At least I was feeling well again.


On 10 March we cycled 85km on really bad gravel road.  The road was OK up to the lunch spot, after which it became very corrugated and stony (lava rock).  We shook and rattled, but eventually we all got to the camp at a very slow pace.  All of us got to camp, except our police escort who had disappeared into thin air.  I got to camp at 13h45, and I think Kim got there at something like 11h00 (not fair!).  We camped next to the road on the lava rock (quite hard and stony).  For the first time in a long time I was hungry, a sign that I was well again.


We cycled the 90 km to Marsabit on 11 March, where the following day would be a rest day.  The road was very bad, with corrugation and lava rock.  There was a lot of uphill, and we had quite a bit of wind.  My average speed was about 10 km per hour, and we all battled through to the end with sore backsides and some broken bikes.  Two people broke there saddles (Dave cycled 30 km without a saddle).  Most of the cyclists said it was their hardest day of the tour to date (I donít quite agree).  I was, however, very tired.  We had a nice camp site amongst big trees, and we even had a lawn.  There was no water for a shower, but they brought a big truck with water so we could at least wash ourselves.  We could also do our laundry the following day.


On 12 March we had a nice rest day in Marsabit.  Some of us went on a tour of the crater.  There were computers at the post office, and I had to buy a card to use a computer.  Unfortunately there were no more cards left, so I could not do the e-mail thing.  We ate at the local restaurant, and their potato chips were real good.  That evening the South Africans in our group made a braai, and we sat around the fire till late.


On 13 March we did 100 km on a very bad gravel road with lots of corrugation.  I did not know how I was going to do another 3 days of cycling on that road.  It was really bad, and the going was very slow.  I had a fall, as did most of the others.  Fortunately there was no serious injury. That night we camped next to a village, and we had lots of spectators.  At least there was a well for water, and we could have a wash.


There seemed no end to the corrugated bumpy roads, and we did 85 km on 14 March.  I stopped a number of times for cooldrinks, just to rest my mind.  At the lunch truck I changed a tube (or rather Henning changed the tube) as I had to pump up my wheel every 20 minutes.  We camped along the road again, but there were so many bees that one couldnít move.  I ended up hiding in the safety of my tent, which was like a sauna (you just canít win!).


Once again, on 15 March we had 75 km of really bad gravel road all the way to Isiolo.  The day was no fun, but at least it was going to be our last day of bad gravel roads for a while.   Racing for the day ended in Isiolo so we could go to the restaurants and banks, and access the internet.  We camped at a very nice site about 5 km further down the road.  At the camp site I wanted to change to slick tires, but they were nowhere to be found.  It seemed that I would have to buy new tires in Nairobi.  I was quite tired that night, probably from all the days of bad roads.


On 16 March we cycled 75 km - on a tarred road!  What a nice day it was.  In the morning we cycled 50 km towards Mount Kenya, and the scenery was fantastic.  All the way to the lunch truck the road seemed flat, but it was actually uphill.  After lunch the route was one huge downhill into the next village, where we camped for the night.  We camped at the Sportsmans Arms Hotel, which had lawns, showers, a swimming pool, and a restaurant (what luxury!).  Ruutís family arrived (his wife and a friend who would be with us for a few days, and his son who joined us for the rest of the tour).  Two French riders joined us for the following 10 days, and Matt arrived (he had not recovered from his injury, so he could not cycle yet).


The108 km which we cycled on 17 March was not part of the race.  It was a nice day, all on tarred road.  The scenery was changing again, with the vegetation becoming more luscious.  We all cycled together to where we crossed the equator, and we took some photos.  The rest of the dayís route was undulating.  Henk-Jan had another fall, and needed stitches to his chin.  Our campsite was absolutely magic, with beautiful green lawns next to a river.  There was a swimming pool, and as we got into camp early we all sat by the pool.  That night we had a large braai, which everyone enjoyed.  It really felt good to have such a nice day after all the hard riding we had done.  The following day we would cycle into Nairobi.


The distance to Nairobi was 90 km, and on 18 March we cycled 50 km to the lunch truck where we ended the race.  After lunch we cycled in convoy to our camp site in Nairobi.  It was very interesting with a police escort, TV and news reporters around.  We cycled through the city which was very busy.  We camped at Upper Hill, where there was quite a reception for us (with eats, etc.).  There was a press meeting where we handed over another bicycle.  Theresa and Astrid (from SA) joined us for the remainder of the tour.  We also had to say goodbye to Estie and Paul.  That evening we all went to the Spur for supper (sponsored by Henning and the Spur group).  I booked into the Kenya Comfort Hotel in order to have some luxury.


Today, 19 March, is a rest day in Nairobi.  I have the opportunity to do all my things now (like mailing this update, etc.).  Well, we are half way on the tour. It wasnít easy, but I managed to hang in there.  Now for the second half of the trip.


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