Grinding with Granny and Cold Showers
Trip Start Jan 10, 2010
25Trip End Ongoing
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The somewhat salacious title refers to the epic point of our ride in the last week or so where in one day, we rode 40km of relative flat, before dropping 1800m on the worlds best roller coaster ride (although with none of the safety features and a few additional hazards like gravel, trucks and wandering goat-sheep) to the level of the Blue Nile River, and then performing a gruelling Time Trial for 20km and the same vertical climb out
The second half of the title refers just to a passing thought that I had last night. There are all sorts of competitions related to this tour (as we are not a highly competitive bunch here at all), such as not shaving for the entire 4months (ladies included), EFI (every fabulous inch on a bike), EFT (every night in a fantastic tent), and a new one I was pondering as I skipped in and out of a trickle of possibly the coldest water yet, between soaping myself up in what was an excuse for a shower - every shower a cold one. This is in fact a record held be almost every rider who is camping, and has not had the luxury of a hot shower since leaving Cairo 6 weeks ago.
So back to the real reason we are all here - the riding across Ethiopian highlands, while not the body numbing off road of the end of Sudan, has definitely been somewhat will-defeating, in the number of people who have come down with devastating GI problems, and the endless hills that are always there at the end of every descent (or flat road even), but the scenery has been worth it. There is a strange cross between the European style cultivated plains, the Australian Eucalyptus trees, and the African goats and mud hut villages, with occasional burnt out tank in a field! The kids are ever present, and while this writer/rider has been relative unmolested, there are daily stories of stones, stick-in spoke-attempts and attempted retaliation from impossible irate riders... The level of expectation in this country is something unbelievable unless witnessed, and unfortunately, the ill-feeling created among the riders is somewhat exacerbated by over-tiredness to the point where we wonder what we are trying to help... Thankfully these rest days allow us to regain some of our perspective though.
So, to wrap up, highlights: Sheraton's buffet breakfast, my cosy tent and sleeping bag in a cool highland climate, standing at the top of the Blue Nile Gorge having realised that I have just climbed into and out of the best ride in the world (one of them anyway), realising that I don't have to do it again!!, Coming out the other side of GI issues and that all food and beer is fair game, having a camp fire interrupted by rain, only to have the entire campfire (yes fire and all) and party moved indoors. Lowlights: forcing down food on a squealing protesting stomach only so the legs will keep going during the 160km ride on a GI day, digging into concrete dirt with stomach cramps to abide by "camp rules" only to walk by someone else's display 10min later, dreaming of ethiopian coffee all morning, only to be served burned beans at a classy hotel that are barely drinkable, and wishing for the road side huts with the traditional coffee again.
And a big thanks to the guys who have already donated to WaterAid for my endeavours...it's like a personal word of moral support and I really appreciate it.