Friday, March 18, 2011

TDA 2011 - Tanzania

15 March 2011 - Namanga to Arusha - 118km
All I was looking forward to today was just getting to Arusha. Just getting those 3 magical rest days to that my mind and body can recover. The one day rest days were just not cutting it. Physically and mentally I was in need of a rest. It was great to cross over into Tanzania (always cool feeling if you cross over into a ew country, feels like you are moving on and making some progress). We had to pay USD50 for our visa, the lasty country that we need one, but still I thought was a little steep for someone that came from Africa. They chose a great lunch stop, right at the edge of Mount Neria - you could also see Killie slightly in the distance between the clouds and fog. Then there was a small climb after lunch for about 12km, which was tough, but I just wanted to get there, so I cycled the thing through without resting. Great descent after that with really cool view of the place. Heading into the Arusha the traffic was definitely getting busier and little more crazy. And finally I cycled into the Masai camp with the 2 Braam's, 2 months of cycling done and now for some serious rest! I did a quick scan around the camp and was not to happy with it, so I decided on the upgrade to the Karama lodge (which turned out to be a magic move). Some of the other riders were also staying there as well. Located at the top of one of the mountains, with very cool view and then also awesome little huts that you stay in. The service and the dinner was great. Very glad that I took the upgrade and the bottle of KWV brandy was also doing its thing to lift my spirits. Finally, 2 months down, the half way point......... Kenya has so many very interesting tribal groups, with the Masai standing out. The way they dress and their ears shaped etc are very unique, it is just very unfortunate that we cannot take pictures of them.

16 March 2011 - Rest day - Arusha

Woke up and had the best breakfast at the lodge (eggs and bacon with sausage - first time in 2 months!!!). I was also lucky enough that they gave me a second serving for free! Packed up and headed with a day pack back to the Masai camp where the riders were staying (Left all my other luggage in Terry's room). Marelie and myself had lunch at the Masai camp (hamburger) and then realized that I was very happy about the chose of the lodge and the food. The food was not good and the serive (again) slow - nothing compared to what we were getting at the lodge. We stopped at the snake park to have lunch, and unfortunately the snake park was a little run down and in need of maintenance (although it was run by a very nice SA couple from Durban and also had a very cool bar). Drove then to the town just outside from the Ngorongoro Crater, where we would camp in outr tents. Megan, Daniel, Marelie, Victor and myslef took the day and half option in the tents (some of the other riders took the same option, just staying in chalets), and the new Egiption sectional riders also stayed with us. It was the first time that i really met them and I was very pleased that we finally could speak too them (very difficult in the morning when you are riding and things are happening at a pretty quick pace). They were extremely friendly and we had some very good laughs with them. It was also interesting to hear their story from the revolution, as they were quite involved in it and the one even had a scar from the rubber bullet that hit him. It was interesting to hear first hand from their experience and how they were feeling now with regards to what had happened and thier thoughts for the future. But a great bunch of people. We were cooked some food for our trip and then headed off into our tents (and luckily pretty waterproof, as later that evening it started raining, but I slept like a baby).

17 March 2011 - Rest day - Arusha

The day of visiting the world famous Ngorongoro Crater. It used to be an old volcano that erupted a few million years ago, and then basically just fell flat and the soil is rich with vegetation, so animals can libe in here. But the walls of the crater are so big and steep that it is almost like a stunning natural enclosure that all the animals are in, a big soup bowl with about 270 square km in size. Most of the area is covered with grass about 15cm long, so it is extremely easy to spot animals from km's away. Woke up in the morning to rain and lot's of fog, which made me a bit skeptical and I was hoping that it would not ruin our day. Took about an hour to ride to the Crater, and from there we descended into the only road you can take into it (also just one ascending rode). Luckily as we headed down into the crater, the fog cleared and we could see the land scape as well as the animals (difficult to see from the top view point because of the fog). What followed was just an amazing experience of seeing so many animals - 4 of the big 5, zebra, antelope, wildebeest, jackal, Pumba's (warthog), hippo's, eagles - everything except the elusive leopard and also giraffe (there are none in the Crater because it is not suited for the terrain). It was like being in a very big zoo, only to see the animals in their natural habitat. It was also great to see and hear the faces of Megan and Danniel (from US and Canada) the first time they were seeing animals in the wild. We had lunch with some low soaring eagles that literally grabbed the food out of your hand (happened to Bob and Megan), and also while we were riding back, saw 2 lions lying in the middle of the road literally just chilling out. There was probably about 6 vehicles at a time taking pictures, but they did not move an inch. In all, it was a awesome day and this will probably be one of the highlights of the trip. Returned to the riders camp and I was very glad when I took tyhe upgrade again for the night, as later that evening it started pouring down quite heavily - sp I can just imagine how it was at camp - not pleasant. Also saw some of the riders there and they were wa;ling around like zombies, clearly the lack of activities at the camp getting to them as well as all of the items that were wet from the rains of the previous day. Felt ver lucky about the upgrade then. Again, also had a fantastic dinner at the lodge (their food is superb). Also great and convenient to have computer so I could have a very nice Skype chat to Stephanie.

18 March 2011 - Rest day - Arusha

Literally today is just my catch up day. I need to make use of this small notebook that I bought and catch up on all o fmy internet work, bank stuff and most NB, my blog (which I am about 2 weeks behind). Just realized how nice it was to be treated, was awoken this morning at 7:30 with coffee in the bed and also waking up being dry (after last night's storm) is a very comfortating feeling (not so sure all of the riders that are campoing are feeling the same way). The coffee was also the final piece of convincing that I needed to take another nigth at the lodge - then I also get the beenfit of using the facilities for a whole day and maybe avoid the rain again. It is slighly over my budget, but I feel a NB step in the emotinal and physical rest of my mind and body, which after today will again be tested. I need this break and therefore will pay for it. 

19 March 2011 - Arusha to Magaga - 142km
It was one of those wild mornings where I had misplaced items, we were late arriving from the lodge so we missed the rider meeting, my bike computer was not working and it was raining when we started cycling! I also missed breakfast for the first time, as we had breakfast at the lodge (the eggs and bacons was just to good to miss and they also said they would make it for us at 5:30!) I was not really in the mood for  a long ride and with my computer not working and it raining basically until after lunch at 70km, it was a not a fantastic morning. Great ride with heather and Carrie in the afternoon and we camped at a football field. It was also nice in that the weather cleared up and the sun was shining when we got into camp. The only scary thing was that we were cycling on a road being built, the actual road that the car's ride on and we were suppose to be on, was full of mud of the previous day's rain - was this waiting for us tomorrow and the day after?

20 March 2011 - Magaga to Katesh - 95km
Wow, what a day! Mud, mud, rain, rain and combination of the two! And then various of the sections the road were being built, so we had to cycle on  a route next to the road. There was some tough climbing in the morning, where we basically had to climb until we got onto a Plato where we would be cycling for a while. Some of the areas where we got into was also un cycleble (cars were also getting stuck in the mud) and we just had to get off and push our bikes - there was no choice. The weird thing was that I was enjoying it all, it was really a great day of cycling, although if we have to do this for 6 days in a row my tune is going to change a lot! The route we are taking for the next 8 days is part of a new route that the TDA has come up with this year, as they want to get the route more off road. These offroads are not as bad as in Northern Kenya, but the fact that makes these very difficult, is all of the rain and then the mud that forms after that. At one section in the morning just before lunch, it felt like I was cycling on a ice rink (I fell subsequent to this). Our road for the day was that the first 20km was paved, then all of the offrode climbing started until 40km. Then just rolling hills from there, and it started raining very heavily in the afternoon and Chris, Megan and myself juts decided to cycle on. It was still raining when we reached the hotel at the camp, but we were all exstatic that we made it and it was over!A nice hot shower was waiting for us and we also slept in the bar on the floor that night (we were not willing to put up our tents and get rained on again).

21 March 2011 - Katesh to Puma camp - 121km
Very afraid of the day's riding - especially after what  I saw and experienced yesterday. What to follow was however one of our most scenic days. It was just magical. It was  a steep climb in the morning, but before the climb we had a very strong descent, almost going below the clouds that were forming (we were still on the plato) and then ascending again above the clouds. After that there was a 20km paved stretch (that no one knew about) and then the rest of the afternoon was just cycling on this plato and cycling past all of these rows and rows of sunflowers, which I though were so nice! Then there was this great town that was basically built in between these large rock formations and we had a very cool and steep ascent into it, the nice thing was that we were on the new road being constructed, so we had the whole rode for ourselves. Stopped in town at a garage to use the free washing facilities there to get our bikes clean (the amount of mud that gets stuck on the bikes are bad). One of the spokes broke, and Steven was so kind to help me repair it (has a lot of knowledge about bike repairs that he obviously learnt from his dad). We were very lucky that it never rained for the whole day until that night at dinner - so we all had time to put our tents up in the sun and also get some items dry. Later the morning there was some heavy showers from 1m to 3:30 am, and luckily my tent held up pretty well.

22 March 2011 - Puma camp to Game Post 1 - 107km
All of us very relieved that it stopped raining in the morning and we could load all of our gear without any rain (although there were still some items wet from the rain, like some of my gear and the tent's cover sheet, which when rolled up with the tent again, makes it wet again (not sure how to go around that problem expect roll and put it away separately, but I have no space for it or any bags). Ride was pretty easy for the day and we were in at 12:30. The first part was paved for the first 60km until lunch. After that it was off rode, but it was almost like cycling on a paved road, so good was it. Nothing crazy and again the rain stayed away until everyone had their tent's set up. I also learnt a few tricks form the night before with my tent and also digging some trenches next to my tent to help it from the water. A nice 4th day in this marathon 8 day stretch before our first break.

23 March 2011 - Game Post 1 to Game Post 2 - 114km
Nothing really different to yesterday. The road could have been quite tricky to cycle on if it was wet, but luckily, the rain stayed away, and the road was fine (better than I expected). The sun was shining the whole day and there was only a very light drizzle late in the afternoon after everyone had set up there tent already. I really struggled with the first 10km, could not get going and I thought it would be a very long day, but after a quick stop and a banana, my power came back and the cycle the rest of the way was fine. At the camp, I paid 2000 Tanzanian pounds and got a bucket of water so that I could wash myself - which i duly did behind the building. Great feeling to be clean a bit and it really does make a difference after riding to feel clean. Everyone at camp seemed to be in quite a good mood, some people were singing in the truck with Steve and his guitar, some of us were eating (biscuits etc that everyone was sharing) and drinking beer and others just chatting away. Just a real happy mood in camp. Pieter's girlfriend brought biltong for him during her visit in Arusha, which he was luckily for me willing to share with me (I will never say no to that). So I replied with some Jhonny Walker Red Label that we had after dinner that night. One thing that is annoying me is the getting up at 5:15 to have breakfast at 6am, when it is clearly to early - there are only a handful of riders ready at this time. I did raise it at the riders meeting, but was told that we will move the breakfast time to later only in Malawi. Maybe I should start a revolution :)

24 March 2011 - Game Post 2 to Bush camp - 123km
Nice relaxing cycling day - cycled whole day with Heather and we had a good chat (she is never short of any stories of i general just talking, which is nice, because the km's seem to go by pretty quick). I have a sore bum again, so I moved the saddle slightly forward after some advice from Liam. And we also managed a "bath" in the river that was 2km's from our camp - again, feels great to be clean after a long ride where it is very humid. The water was also running at the river, which i was very glad about, especially after I saw that the whole construction crew from the road also do their bathing there when we were finished!

25 March 2011 - Bush Camp to Mangalosi - 126km
Always tough the second last day of a long section like this. It is almost done, but you are not quite there (day 7 of an 8 day riding stretch). The day was pretty tough with lots of rolling hills and more climbing than descending, add to that on off-road then it was very difficult to really get into a rhythm and made for a long day in the saddle (plus my energy levels were starting to be low). The morning’s stretch was in particular difficult; there was very thick sand and mud from previous days rain, which made cycling through it hard. The 2 buses that were stuck in this mud condition was proof of this. Our camp site was in the village, and for the first time, iut felt like we were in Ethiopia, with all of the village kids and people coming to have a look at the "men from mars" camping out. It also made me realized that I was not missing that part of the trip at all.

26 March 2011 - Mangalosi to Mbeya - 111km
Mando day 7 of 12 (hate these!!!!!!) Awoke to a beautiful sunset, although I know now that mando's are just tough days. This one proofed to be no different, although the scenery was very rewarding! Started cycling at 7am and finished at 16:00.  This was definitely one of the most scenic routes that we have had thus far, just great. with a view of the whole Rift Valley at the top of our climb. There was a lot more climbing than we had anticipated in the morning, with even Bob uttering a swear word or two when he made it to the top. After lunch at 55km, it was ascending up until 97km, climbing from 1200m to 2400m! At 95km, we were also at the highest point of all truck roads in Tanzania. The downhill into Mbeye was treacherous, with the roads being very rough and rocky. All of the riders had complained when they got to the camp about the downhill, the stress on your hands, lower back and feet was just crazy! The bike just picks up speed to quickly and accidents on these roads can happen in the wink of an eye. I was very glad when I made it to the bottom that my body and bike was still in one piece. We were staying at the Hotel Mbeya camp site and the beers were flowing in the evening - all of us very relieved that this 8 day stretch was over and that the rain had stayed away for most of this section - I think we were very lucky. To do 8 continuous days of cycling averaging 120km a day on off-road is not for the faint hearted, and basically similar to a Cape Epic cycle tour that we did, although ours was just in the middle of our already long trip - crazy!

27 March 2011 - Rest day Mbeya
Woke up at 4am with a bit of a head ache, so I had to have a grandpa to sort that one out. It is funny, your body can just consume food and drinks and I really did not feel anything last night when I had to go to bed (ie I was not drunk), but then we you wake up...... It ended up being a pretty crappy rest day, just had way too much admin to do! The bike needed a major clean up plus possible parts change, lots of other things needed cleaning etc (luckily I paid a local lady to do my washing, becasue of i had to do that, I would loose it!). Everyone was just busy the whole day, it seemded  like a bunch of ants and it went like that until late in the afternoon - bike tires had to be changed as well (not mine). I answered some questions of that christiano gave me for an interview with a bike magazine (nice) and also updated all of my nternet work. Unfortunately I did not get enugh sleep duing the day and it would later catch up with me in the week. The bad thing about staying in the cmap is that people still wake up at 6am and then once you start hearing the first zipper, your sleep is over...Saphanie called me on Chris's sim card and we spoke for a bit and caught up on all the necessary things. In the evening, I could feel that i was getting  a sore throat, and a cold or flu was about to hit me. not cool. The best news of the day was that our route to Malawi had changed slighly, and we would be following the old route from previous years, which meant that we would have an extra rest day in Lllongwe - brilliant! These rest days are like gold and I think for this far in the trip, will help a lot.
28 March 2011 - Mbyea to Rice fields (border into Malawi) - 128km (border)
Start of the Malawi Gin stage. I woke up and could feel that the cold/flu was as anticipated, there and getting worse (cannot complain really, first real medical problem that I have had on the tirp, so compared to other people, this was also pretty light). Lukcily we were only doing 2 days before a rest day, so it is very easy to motivate one self! It was a pretty cool scenic ride today, which involved mostly descending from the mountains (finally!). It was the first time that I could ride  a full 65km strech all the way to lunch without stopping. We also had a very good secondstrech after lunch and made the border into Malawi at no time.  Border crossing was pretty quick and effecient and I was in and out in no time. We are also no over half with eveyrhting in our trip - we covered more than half of the distance, we are crossing into our 6th country of 10 and we are also doing the 5th stage of 8 in total for the TDA. Arrived at 13:30 into camp, pretty relaxed, although the kids seem to be leaning towadrs the Ethiopian standards, with lots of shouting, but luckily no stones involved (but still lots of begging and shouts of money which annoyus the hell out of me).  It is also very humid in Malawi and I was sweating my backside off, different climate to Tanzania. I had a semi nap in the afternoon, which definately help me a bit (my body needed it frm the lack of slepe that I got from the rest day). I could also sense the difference from entering Tanzania to Malawia, not just in the temperature, but aso in the conditions are more poorer with the people and condition of the roads. Tanzania is a great country and definately a place I would like to see again. The scenery was matching that of Ethiopia, but this was more green, more lush, with less mountains and just a lot of trees, green, green trees and then the drift valley that I will remeber for a long time. But again excited to be in a new country, because to me it feels like we are moving along headign souht........

TDA 2011 - Kenya

4 March 2011 - Moyale to Sololo camp - 79km
The first of 3 off road sections. Not sure what to expect really, and this si where tire selction can play a huge role - it can make ot brake your day onb this terrain. Luckily for me my Travel Conti;s were still working fine and great to have on my bike (so impressed with this tire - I have still not changed my tire once this whole trip). We started early and had breakfast at 6:15, just to miss the heat of the day, which at 11 am that morning, was very understandable. The Meltdown Madness section was living up to its name and you had to make sure you took enough liquids with you, oitgerwise you will find yourslef rehydrated very quicly! The riders are definately a little more upbeat today, first cycling day in Kenya and no more kids throwing you with rocks etc, which was something really to look forward to. Also the peope were not lining the streets like they used to in ethiopia, so we basically lost our "celebrity" status. Saw lost of camals netxd to the road, which was throwing me off slighly, i was expecting to giraffe! (hopefully this was going to change at some point). In all it was a great ride to lunch, with the gravel road being very riders firendly and people riding like mad ove rthe surface. The afternoon strecht was definately more tough than the morning section, but we still got into camp at a good time. My bump was holding up pretty well, so i was pretty satisfied with the days riding and how it went. But I am also very sure that the 2 mando days coming will be somehting of a different story (also confirmed by Surita at our riders meeting in the afternoon).

5 March 2011 - Sololo camp to Bush camp - 84km
Mando day - What a tough day! All on very bad gravel and no mercy given - just relentless gravel and rocks everywhere - it felt at one stage as if we were cycling on Mars, there was just nothing around us exept rocks and sand. It was doing its name proud as being the 2 toughest days of the tour, 2 mandos in consecutive days is not childs play! I got a bad flat which messed upo my time slighly, as my hands were so stiff from the riding, ity was a real struggle to get the flats fixed. There was also no Coke stops along the way, not supringly, because there was literally no life or people at all on the road, so we had to carry all our water with us. A lot of people were quite busted up when they eventually did get into camp. My bums was also pretty sore as well as my hands, it is just pure pain on your wrist, so much pressure (nore sure how the guys do it without suspension!). What was very impressive was the way the bikes handles this terrain, becasue they really do gpo through a lot. I got new respect for my bike after this road. Ryan and myself also had a good chat on the road inbetween all of the chaos and we had agreed to help eahc other out on the EFI thing, it was our aim to both make it. I also had my first real good fall, trying juist one too many time to cycle on the islands and seeing my back side for doing so. And we stayed at one of our crappiest campt sites to date, in the middle of nowhere, and all of the dust was this flour efftec, and it jhust stuck to eveyrhting! Tough mood in campo tonight.

6 March 2011 - Bush camp to Marsabit - 87km
Mando day - Today is generally considered the toughest day on the tour amoung the staff members, and after my experience, I have to agree. Steve has openly admitted that this "road" is the shi^^est road in africa, no excuses and no messing aorund. It was pretty much a repition of the previous days riding, road again terrible and actually un ridable, add to that a head win, some ascending, and 6 preivous days of cycling, then you are in for a long one! A lot of the people were sitting out this day because of what they had experienced the day before. I was feeling pretty good and had a great first 25km, overtaking some of the racers! And the lunch truck as well (felt really good at that stage). My bump was giivng me some problems again, but Matteus did a great pacth job at lunch. Then disatser after lunch, my saddle broke. Lady luck was on my side, as Patricvk was only cycling from lunch, but now heading back in my direction, because he was not going to ride further. so he said that i could borrow his bike. The problem was that we could not get his peddlas off to put on my cleats (so that it could fir my shoes), so I had to cycle with his cycling shoes - which were 3 sizes to small! after that I had to take a break every 8-10km to take off his shoes, the pressure on my feet was just to much. The one thing that was very good and I was veyr fortunate with it, was that his bike has dual suspension, so it is perfect for off rode riding and on this terrain. So from the time I losty with my bike, i very quickly made it up with his bike and was soon overtaking all of the riders that passed me previously. There was a really tough stretch after lunch, just hot, ascending, head wind, corragation, eveyrhting. Christiano's refresh stop at 60km was VERY welcome and qa good boost. It felt pretty surreal making into the monastary where we were staying, pumping my fist into the air, I had made it (and I got a hand clap from the people that had already finished). The beer tasted so good after this ride. I finished 13th that day, just after all of the racers and Luke and Terry. Lucklily Chris had booked a room for us, so I felt really good after a nice shower (and some more beers). Some people were cycling that day for a long time, none so than Ruth, who did 12 hours on the bike, but unfortauntely she was told to get into the truck, she was just going to slow. The stuff of legends..... Quote of the day in my diary, there are no short cuts to any place worth going - so true after today!

7 March 2011 - rest day Marsabit
There was nothing much to do in town, pretty boring little place. Breakfeast was a ripp off agaoin at the nun place, we only got one boiled egg and normal bread with coffee for breakfast for 300 Kenyan Chillings - crazy. Juts confimred that at our camps, the people really go to rip us off and it is better to go into town to get food. With Martin and Gabe managed to fix the saddle - just needed to replace the screw and also clean my chain and the bike for the first time. We had a veyr chilled afternoon, and I also mamaged to speak to mom and stepohanie (although it was very comical as the camp only has network reception at certain places withoin the camp, but it goes away, so I was walking around at the funniest places in the camp while talking). I was also getting pretty concerned with my right pinky and ring finger, hand feeling very numb and I definately do not have feeling in my hand. I brough some mangos in town and these were delicious (I had a mango craving from Christiano's stop the day before). The annoying moment of the day was the fact that the banks here give you a different exchaneg rate when you change USD100 and USD50 notes vs USD20, USD5 and USD1's. Crazy!!!

8 March 2011 - Marsabit to Bush Camp - 115km
Hell day, this is how I would decribe this day!!! What a tough day and it was basically a continous of the 2 previous mando days! (this one can actually also be one because of the distance to travel on gravel - not fun). It was still full on gravel and corregation, with my arms feeling like it was going to fall off and my bump getting sorer with every bump. Mentally, I was not in the right frame of mind for this rough stuff and I suffered becasue of it (it also did not help that we were not exactly given the right information about the road). This was my second worst day of the trip - not cool and I did not enjoy this. The only thing that was positive was the way the Masai people dress, with very bight clothes, and piercings in their ears etc. (very sad that we cannot take any pictures). The corregation was just relentless and it felt like it was never going to stop. I think me and Peter Lamond both had our meltdown madness moments at lunch - we had reached boiling point. Eventually later on we both settled down and actually just laughed and made stupid jokes about it. It was also fair to say that eveyrone found this ride very tough, because for all of the people that did the 2 previous mando days, our bodies just did not recover enough in that one rest day, it was not enough. This was a bad day at the office and everyone just needed to write it off and move on. The other shining light moment was that our camp was at the start of the paved road for the next day, so there was something to look forward to. I was also aggitaed with my hands, as I was seriously getting pimns and needles in my right pinky and ring finger. At least at the end of the day, Patrcik did a really good job of making me cool down and we also had a good humor moment with Scott about Melrose Place (sounds stupid now, but it really helped then).

9 March 2011 - Bush Camp to Isiolo - 158km
What a day! Very eventful and unfortuantely for all of the wrong reasons! 6 riders were hedl up by gunmen while doing the firts part of the section in the morning. Another rider almost got held up, but she rode awya just before these 6 were hedl up, but she got a nasty rock to the head. Althouhg everyone was very relieved when we heard that no one had any serious injuries. Due to this incident, the whole day was called off and there was to be no further cycling for the day. We heard about the news when we arrived at the lunch camp, and then had to choice to ride in (in a big convoy) or just take the truck to the camp site (and not loose EFI). I decided to do the truck option, as my body was in serious need of a break, but some of the riders still rode the whole way. So in all it was a really bad day with everyone in shock at the camp site and for obvious reasons the main talking point of the staff and the riders. I was very relived that no one got badly hurt, althouhg not so shocked about the whole thing as some of the other riders, as these incidents happen unfortunately on a regular basis in SA. I was also really struggling in the morning and it would hav ebeen a veyr long day for me. My mind was playing mind games and my body aching from the preivous days riding. I was done and just barely made it to lunch without knowing anyhting that had occured behind me up until then). Just a very bad day in all. The camp site was great though and we could all have showers and east and drink some beers,which helped relieved the unfortunate events of the day at least a little. The plan was howveer to continue on the next day, althouhg the day would be a non racing day so that eveyrone could chill out a bit and cycle with each other and give each other some support.

10 March 2011 - Isiolo to Nanyuki - 71km
Exactly what the doctor ordered for me, nice easy ride into town (I was in before 12). The town is situated right on the equator, which we will be crossoing tomorrow (i will personally be quite ahighlight for me). The first 20km was a very steady climb, but one of those funny ones where the road seems to be straight, and it feels that you brakes are on or soemthing, but meantime it is just you ascending (very gradually). The cycling was also going better than yesterday, and it seemed yesterday's bad day was over, the show must go on...... With cycling, you cannot focus on the bad day, you just have to move on (maybe with a lot of things in life). Then we had an uphill for another 20km to lunch, but this uphill was probably my favourite one of the whole trip - not sure why, but I was flying on this section. Felt realy good and the legs full of energy. We also had a good tial wind (I thoughty these did not exist anymore :) ) and then the road was also very well paved. After lunch it was juts a great ride into the town with terry and we were flying (average around 30km an hour) and had a great view of Mount Kenia on our left hand side with the snow topped peaks. Camped at the Sportman's Ground campsite and had a great lunch at the bar and their place also had internet (firts time whole trip that I could get internet in riding days). It was just great to be in so early and really just chill out and read a book.

11 March 2011 - Isiolo to Sayona - 105km
Crossed the equator today! Wow, how far did Cairo not feel at that moment when I was cycling away from the sign. So nice and it was such a greta feeling to realize how far we have come! I was cylcing that first part of the sign alone, and a really good time just to reflect on the journey thus far, where we have been and things and places that we have seen. A real special moment for me. Nice ride into the camp site, which was great again - we stayed at a river rafting shop so they had eveyrthing at the site, bar, very nice grass to camp on, lots of shade and trees and nice facilities etc. The bar was great, becasue it had a TV that was hooked to DSTV, so we were wathcing live cricket match between England and Bangladesh. The highlight of the day was that the super 15 game between the Stormers and the Highlanders was also being shown, so guess what we were whatching at night after dinner (still only saw the first half, was a bit sleepy). It is also funny to see the romances on the trip, one being Martin and Wendy, which I called 2 weeks ago to Terry (You owe me mate!). I am still struggling a bit with my grip, but hopefully I can sort it out and I just need to keep focussing on my grips and sitting position.

12 March 2011 - Syaona to Nairobi - 136km
Looking forward to this rest day, just want to gte to Arusha and get this section over and done with. Because of the numerous road workds on this stretch into Niarobi, and with the traffic, the tour decided for riders safety that we would only cycle the firts 70km anbd then all of us with bikes be ridden in the trucks to the camp site. Looking onto that strech as we were driving by in the trucks, it was a very good choice. There was nothing to really mention about the 70km, just glad it was pretty easy and a nice ride. we stayed at the Indaba camp site, which was great. Scott and myself went off to the bike shop to find some spare tubes and handle bars (he was looking for soemthing else), but in the end, we came back with nothing.a whole group of about 25 riders went in the evening to a restaurant called Carnivore, where it is basically eat all you can meat place. This was heaven for the riders, and bad for the place, as a bunch of cyclist cyclign through africa with an appetite is bad for your business on this tyupe of a meal! The waiters were astounded at how much we could eat. Scott and daniel too the prizes and only stopped eating because they would not give us desert until everyone was finished eating (so all of us insisted that the 2 of them stop eating). Also had my firts bottle of red wine (Cab) for the foirst time on the trip - went down great with all of the meat! I also had some crocodile, which tatsed like fish (not recommended(. It was a great evening and I think one of the better ones on the trip. Also Pierre got a "surpise" bday singing to by the waiters in Swahili when we told them a little lie and said it was Pierre's bday (we just wanted them to sing and you should have seen Pierre's face when they started - turned red).

13 March 2011 - rest day Nairobi
Great day for the riders at the camp. The camp site is Indaba's, so it really has everything one would need. Very well laid out, and also I love the name of the bar "Rubber Arm" (maybe one day I will call my bar that), it had TV with running DSTV there.... Very conveniently located close to a very modent shoping mall with lots of South african shops (like Mr Price and Woolworths) and then also a big spar which has everything. I did some old school shopping in the mall and stocked up on all of my goodies, including loads of food items (biscuits, chips, fruit), liquir (honny Walker and KWV - yes, they have it there) and then another sleeping mat as well. I also bought a mini laptop, which is great and hopefully will help me a bit with keeping my laptop up to date (also got it at a great price, US330 Dell Inspirion). There are also numerous very nice take away places, like chicken, pizza, ice cream ect just next to the mall. We ended the evening with some desrt and had soft serve (first on the tour) - I had a medium tub and Scott and Chriss a large one (the medium one was huge, the large scary!). We also had our first rian shower that night of the whole tour. It was rianing quite heavely for about an hour, and then after that it stopped. My tent held pretty well, but it again made me realise rain and camping is not a good combination! Heading to tanzania, and the weather forecast is rain for the coming week, fingers crossed.........
14 March 2011 - Nairobi to Namanga - 157km
There are loads more new sectional riders (1 Saffa, 1 Ozzie, 1 Brit, 2 Polish, 7 Egyptian riders), plus a few of the riders girlfriends, so you could see the normal system was a little streched this morning (took longer to get breakfast, ques to put your bags in the lockers etc). I was also stuggling a bit with my locker, as all of the new stuff I bought the day before took more place than I anticipited (although there was a lot of food included as well, which would be eaten later). Mentally I jus wanted to get these 2 days over, needed to get to Arusha. I rode with Chris the whole day, the morning being a bit of a struggle but at least the part after lunch better. I still hate these long rides, I just do not like them. I prefer the shorter rides. Funny what a mental thing it can be, I can sit on my saddle for 6 hours on a 150km ride or for a offrode 85km ridfe, but I still prefer the 85km one, it just feels shorter. Still great scenery and looks exactly like a Kenyan scenery or what I would expect it to look like, vast lands, green vegattion, trees etc. Still glad to see that I was about 2 hours quicker than the Day 2 ride, just 6.5 hours on the bike compared to 8.5.