Woke up feeling daunted still thinking of 159 km with 1092 meters to be climbed. During breakfast we got introduced to lots of riders but can’t really remember their names. I think it will take a week or so. Breakfast was porridge with raisins in it.
Leaving the camp, we had about 2 km on a reasonably quiet road and then we hit the intersection and turned right. Chaos with cars, trucks, vans and people. The road shoulder was uneven and frequently had pot holes plus a steep judder bar every 20 meters to slow down the motorbikes.
There were lots of people waiting to be picked up who were also standing on the shoulder or would surge onto it as you were approaching as they could see their lift approaching. This meant you had to either take your chance on the road or go off the shoulder often trying to get along an uneven hill.
There were huge trucks and cars overtaking from the other direction coming into the oncoming lane, plus motorbikes and vans constantly darting in and out. We were warned not to expect the rules of the road to be followed and if in doubt to jump into a ditch better to fall than be hit. With this reassuringly thought we navigated about 20 km of this before turning left onto a nice wide quiet road.
This lasted for about 10 km until we had 20 km of road work nightmare. We had to keep going onto very gravely roads going around the side of the new road being completed. The dust was so bad when the trucks went past that you couldn’t see in front of you.
It is very dry and hot. The rainy season starts end April / early May and the river beds are dry. Passing through small towns there are piles of rubbish everywhere. It is very dusty but despite this, the clothes the local people wear are sparkling clean.
Lunch was at 75 km, where we found out three of the riders had had accidents getting through the chaos of traffic. Bob, who lives in Thailand, dislocated his elbow and will be leaving us tomorrow to go home and recover. Bob is hopeful that he will rejoin in Victoria Falls. Bob joined two weeks ago. Clint and Cartia are from Colorado and joined in Nairobi like us. They both had a fall and Clint has hurt his back but is hopeful of being back riding again after the 3 days of rest in Arusha, starting after tomorrow’s ride. Cartia is still riding but is a bit sore.
After lunch we rode for another 20 km and stopped at town for a drink. Sat for a while to cool down. Still 65 km to go.
After this we seemed to be constantly climbing up then going down a small down and then up again. Lots of local people waiting on the side of the road for a lift. Drivers going past stop and pick them up. There are also lots of people tending herds including some children as young as 7 and 8. Most people would call out jumbo (hello) and ask where you go. The small children often waved happily at us.
By 150 km my lack of training was making itself felt and I was starting to struggle but with only 10 km to go I wasn’t going to give in.
We stopped at 155 km at a service station for a drink of cold water and then got a second wind for the last 5 km.
We are staying at a camp that has showers which even though cold, are most welcome to remove all the dirt and grime.
When you get to camp on riding days they have a hot salty soup waiting for you which is helpful in rehydrating, and also giving enough calories to tide you over to dinner time.
There was just enough time to put up the new tent, lock up the bike, sort out the gear for tomorrow, and have a shower, before the riders meeting at 6pm.
Instructions are pretty easy, like today: turn left out of camp, go through one town, then a few more instructions once we get to the outskirts of Arusha at 112 km.
Dinner was sausages, salad and potato.
The other riders are friendly but currently swirl of faces and some names. I am very tired so head off to bed just before 7pm thinking I would go straight to sleep. However I ended up staying awake for a couple of hours before sleeping on and off the rest of the night.
Tomorrow we cross the border to Tanzania. I wonder how stiff and sore I will be in the morning.