Monthly Archives: October 2012

Interrupted training

I am in the DRC for the next two weeks – arrived late Sunday. There is unlikely to be any opportunity to do any training. Not great. I had a couple of good rides last weekend before I got on the plane and felt really good. I hope I don’t lose too much fitness.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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5 flights, 15 lions, 2 more flats

Time to catch up. Been away for a while again. It started a week ago last Wednesday when I got up at 3am to catch a 5:10 flight to Zimbabwe – well actually a flight to Nairobi, followed by a flight to Gaborone, followed by a flight to Harare.  A direct flight from Dar to Harare, if there were one, would take 2 ½ – 3 hours. Thanks to Kenya airways and their bizarre routing, it took me 12 hours. I did my schtick in Harare and then flew back to Dar on Friday – this time only two flights, one to Nairobi, then one to Dar.

Up at 5am on Saturday to get ready to leave at 6 for the Selous game reserve.  It is mid-term break for the kids and we were off on Safari. I cycled to Kibiti, about 160km and very hilly, where I met up with the family and a vehicle. We stayed in a local guesthouse across from the police station in Kibiti that night. Nice little place with about ten rooms around an inner courtyard, showers and loos in a block at the end. We got two rooms for 16,000 shillings, about US$10. Next morning we did about 100km on bad dirt and sand roads into the game reserve, where we spent 4 days. It is very dry in the park this time of year. No real rains yet, so lots of game near the water. We saw 15 different lions, lots of crocs, buffalo, elephants, giraffe, hippos, kudu, wart hogs and impala. No leopard this time though.

After arriving in Kibiti the Saturday before I had sent my bike back to Dar in another vehicle with Georgina, who had cycled down with me but had to get back to Dar that evening. When I got back to Dar on Wednesday night I found that both tires on the croix de fer were flat again. X!c@##! What is it with me and slow-leak, pinch punctures? There were a lot of corrugated speed bumps on the road, at the front and back ends of every village we cycled through. I can only think that I went over some of these too fast and hard and pinched the tubes. But this is ridiculous. I can’t get off and carry my bike over every speed bump.  Haven’t had the new bike for a month yet and I have already had 4 flats. I feel like I am single handedly keeping a rubber plantation in business.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

New facebook group

I have just started a new facebook group for the 2013 Tour d’Afrique.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/362005487222549/

Please join the group and ask your friends to join!

Cheers,

Alan

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Patching tubes, trueing wheels

On Saturday I decided to try and patch some of the punctured tubes that have been piling up in the garage. I have not been very environmentally responsible this last year. Instead of patching tubes I have simply put in a new one and thrown the punctured one on the pile in the garage. There were eighteen of them. Three were beyond repair. Two had exploded and had foot long tears in them. One has so many holes it would have been more patch than tube. These three went to my daughter who wants to be Medusa for Halloween and will use them to create a writhing snake wig. The others all looked sort of repairable. I had three new patch kits and set to work. Seven tubes had pinch punctures so each had two holes, side by side, one from each side of the rim. These were tricky. The other eight all had single holes. Twenty-two patches later I had almost used up all of my three new patch kits – you only get 8 patches in a kit. I inflated them all and left them overnight to see which ones would hold. Five didn’t. So I have retrieved 10 tubes. Not too bad I guess. May have another crack at the five that still leak. Maybe not.  Maybe more rubber snakes for the Medusa wig. At any rate, need to get some more patch kits. Chris would say forget the tubes and get tubeless tires. He has a point. No pinch punctures with tubeless.

Also had the back wheel of the TREK – the wheel with all the broken spokes – properly trued. Mejah, who runs a bicycle advocacy group in Tanzania called UWABA, http://www.uwaba.or.tz/ has a good mechanic who did it for me.

No flats for five days now. I think ‘new bike’ and I are getting along better.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Exchanging atoms

While I like my new bike I am not so sure it likes me – or at least what I am doing to it. I have had two flats this week. Is this the new bike’s way of telling me something? Both flats were pinch punctures; both resulted from landing hard on big pieces of concrete. The first happened when I tried to jump a culvert and came down on an edge with my back wheel; the second when I was coming off a dirt track and tried to jump a high concrete curb onto a road surface. The front wheel made it – the back wheel not quite. In both cases the tire stayed inflated for the rest of the ride. I didn’t discover the flats until the next morning. It was as if the new bike had had time to think about what I had done and decided, somewhat perversely and belatedly, to get back at me.  I noticed the first flat at 5:30 one morning. I was due to join some others for a ride at 6:00. So I changed the tire and started to pump it up. Either I wasn’t paying enough attention or the tire was defective. At any rate it exploded! Very loudly! Everybody else in the house had still been asleep. I sheepishly replaced the tube and left for my ride. But I did hear about it later. My new bike had found a clever way to enlist some allies. Apologies are due. I promise to be more gentle.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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rode hard and hung up wet

Had a good ride with Chris this morning. We did the hilly 65 k loop through town around the port, down to south beach and back. A good pace and the traffic wasn’t too bad today. We were in the saddle for almost two and a half hours. Still need to discipline myself to take in more fluids. My legs felt it a bit about 100 metres from the top of one hill. I took in some fluid and immediately felt fine. I have been out on the bike every day for the last two weeks. We are beginning to exchange atoms.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Painless trip to the dentist

I went to the dentist today to have some work done before the tour starts. We have been told by the organisers  in no uncertain terms that we must have a clean bill of dental health before the ride starts. So a couple of moths ago I went to the dentist and had some work done. I thought I was good to go. But, as things happen, a few weeks ago I broke a tooth. So it was back to Bo, my 70 year Swedish Dentist at the Three Crowns Swedish Dental Clinic, to have it put back together. Bo is a big gruff bloke, the kind of dentist who scares kids. He would make a perfect character in a Roald Dahl story. But we get along well in our hermetic world of mutual gruffness. He pushes, drills and pulls. I pretend I don’t feel any pain. Today was the last visit. As I was leaving I invited him to the reception this evening at the Sea Cliff and mentioned that I was cycling from Cairo to Cape Town in support of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania. Usually when I tell people about the trip I am confronted with a blank stare and a moment of silence.  People need to time to figure out whether I am telling a bald-faced lie, whether I am as mad as a hatter or whether I am doing something they’ve always wanted to do. After his moment of silence Bo asked me how many metres that was. I said about 12,000 kilometres. Twelve million metres he exclaimed. I can’t sponsor you for that much (I had not mentioned sponsorship) and he pulled a hundred dollar bill out of his pocket and gave it to me. He is clearly one of the ones who would like to do it himself. Mad Bo.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania