Day 43, stage 33, 125km
Finish, bush camp
More hills. Ethiopia has been relentless. The hills just don’t stop. Another day of head down grinding. We went through one town, fairly large, just before lunch that was probably one of the worst we have been through. The sides of the road in town were as crowded as usual, but this time they were all carrying farm tools – hoes, diggers, pangas. It was like riding through an armed gauntlet. Towards the end of town a young teenage boy came towa4ds me with a long handled hoe with the sharp blade sticking straight out. I saw his pace quicken slightly as he got closer to me. About five metres from him I put on a slight spurt of speed. I was glad I did. Just as I passed he had thrust the hoe towards my back wheel. Had I been half a pedal slower it would have hit my back spokes. This is insane. My experience was not unique.
Camp was about a half kilometer off the road in the bush. It was a good camp but there was a lot of traffic on the dirt road that night. Big dump trucks picking up and dropping off farm workers it seemed.
As we came out of the highlands it had started to get warmer. My biggest problem of the day was deciding whether to put the fly on my tent. (our days are not exactly full of opportunities for complex decision making – do I pedal, do I not pedal; do I stop for a coke, do I keep riding). The fly is keeps you warmer and is a little more private. At the last minute I decided it wasn’t quite warm enough to sleep without the fly (weighty decision, I know). And in the end I was glad I did. Not because of the temperature but because it actually rained – the first rain I had had since leaving Tanzania almost two months ago. It wasn’t much of a rain and it didn’t last long, but it was wet. I could hear several others scrambling to put flies up in the middle of the night.
I also went to bed a bit anxious. The next three days would be off road. I am not good off road. It means long days in the sun and the body and bike take a beating. The mend to my rear derailleur – after it had been bent during the last off road section – was working out though. The mechanics had spent quite a bit of time on it. While changes gears was a bit clunky, the gears were holding and I still had the full range. I wondered if they would hold up with all the extra pounding off road.