The hills begin

Day 28, Stage 22, 92km

Start – Ethiopia camp

Finish – Village camp

The distance is shorter because the hills are steeper. And it is hot. It is now day 7 of an 8 consecutive day stretch of riding. Ending this stretch with two tough days of climbing is making most of us a little apprehensive. We are all tired. Some have fallen ill. People are now riding in the truck or being picked up during the day. It’s tough.

Today we will climb close to 1000 metres, not a huge amount, but enough to know you have been climbing. Also, the hills at the end of the day get steeper as we roll out of the foothills into the real mountains. There are three hills at the end of the ride with 10 – 12 degree gradients. We pedal, we take in fluids, we try not to get hit by too many rocks and sticks, we celebrate when we find a coke stop, we cycle some more.

Camp is in a field overlooking a canyon behind a village. The setting is stunning. Alex and I wander into the village and end up sitting in people’s houses having a coke. The building materials here are different than lower down. There are trees here so they use wood structurally, rather than mud bricks. They line the poles up vertically, rather than horizontally, like a palisade. They leave the bare poles on the outside and render the inside with adobe. The houses are very cool and comfortable inside. From the outside it looks like the forest camp of a band of trolls.

The apprehension and excitement about tomorrow are palpable. It is the last day of our 8 day stretch. It is perhaps one of the toughest days on its own, forget the fact that it comes after 7 already tough days. We all go to bed early, hoping for a good sleep and fresh legs.

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