Category Archives: hills

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.

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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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Training: What is it with spokes?

About 45 or 50 km into my ride this morning I broke another spoke. I know the roads are rough and there are corrugations in places but this is ridiculous. I seem to be breaking a spoke on the same wheel every 200 or 300 kms. All spokes have broken on the rear wheel drive side and they are breaking at the nipple where the spoke enters the rim. From what I can find out, it may be one of two things: either the tension of the spokes is not right, or hard and sudden pressure on the drive train (i.e. going up hill) is popping them. I don’t think it’s tension. When I have replaced the last two spokes I have checked the tension on all spokes on the wheel. I have even tried to listen to see if they were playing roughly the same note. The wheel now has a few thousand km on it. I wonder if the original spokes are just crap and now after a few thousand kms they are all beginning to suffer from metal fatigue. I was at the  top of a stiff climb when noticed I had another broken spoke today, and I had accelerated and hit the drive train hard a couple of times on the climb. But I’m not Chris Hoy for heaven’s sake! Time for a new wheel perhaps.

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

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Looking for hills

I have now lived in Dar Es Salaam for nine months. Dar is lovely but it is flat. It is also at sea level. When you ride here regularly you have no hills in your legs.  In the UK I live in East Surrey on the North Downs. You can’t cycle for a mile without going up or down a hill. You get lots of hills in your legs. When I was in the UK for a few days in May I cycled over to Box Hill, which is on the route for the Olympic Road race next month. I did a few circuits up zig zag road and discovered much to my chagrin that, while I had no trouble getting up the hills, my speed had disappeared. So when I got back to Dar we started to look for rides with some hills. First, a group of eight of us we went up to Bagamoyo and back. My legs certainly felt the hills like they wouldn’t have a year earlier. And on a detour on the way back we found some dirt and sand so got in some off road Tanzanian riding as well. Yesterday we went in the opposite direction. We went into town and then headed outside and around the estuary that feeds the port. Then we headed back down to South Beach and followed the coast back into town. There were a few sharpish hills, nothing long, but I could feel my legs responding better. I road with Mark and Georgina, the two friends here who have done sections of the tour in the past. They did nothing but gossip about all the people on the tour (they did sections the same year and know lots of people in common). Good fun. Now all we have to do is find some altitude.