I have survived the "Meltdown to Madness" segment!@!@@@!@
This is how the Tour d'Afrique calls the segment between Addis Abba and Nairobie - and it is crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
The worse roads of all the Tour D'Afrique are actually in the first 5 days North of Kenya and it can only be described as "roads to hell" - we went through desert scenery and some low vegetation with in the background mountains that are "paving" the way to Mount Kenya and beautiful sunsets: How to described these roads to hell? Dirt, pits sands, corragulated roads (i.e. major rocks sticking out leading to constant constant bad shaking on the bike with hands and arms becoming numbs), loose lava gravel rock which creates "war ravines" and make you fall when you try to change course seeking a "smotheer path (to find out that it is just an illusion and that this path is as worse as the previous one) some headwinds, all that together leading me to say a few bad words in French and English 8 hours riding per days with nowhere to escape and over 40 celsius as of 0900 am - Crazy Crazy Crazy - I rode my bike with my eyes glue to the roads, stopped to drink and look a little around me and arrived to camp at night with the feeling of a major accomplishment - certainly my biggest challenge ever in my life.
BIG BIG THANK YOU TO THE PHAT MOUSE GUYS - The cycling shop in Ottawa AND to the company "Salsa" - the maker of my bike (the Fargo) - this is an AMAZING bike - very strong and perfect for this tour. It is a steel frame (which I highly recommend) and even without front suspension (and me having no mountain bike experience or off roads cycling)- I have managed as well as many of the mountain bikes guys in the tour. Anyone considering Tour d'Afrique should have a look at the description of that segment!
Today we are in Nanyuski - and we rode on pavement most of the day with a view on Mountain Kenya - fabulous - Mount Kenya is about 5199 meters high - I am being told that climbing is very technical - more than the Kilimanjaro - It certainly looks like a beautiful mountain. We will be arriving in Nairobi in 2 days and will have one rest day. Then we move on towards Arusha where I will be doing a 3 days safari - more details on that one in a few days but I certainly look forward to some vacation (from my bike vacation)
In term of wildlife, those who rode the truck through the "roads to hell" saw some ostriches and dick dicks, but we have not yet seen big animals aside from donkeys and camels. At night in bush camps, we can hear hyenas around us (pretty scary but I tried no to go to the bathroom during the nights. I have now pretty much mastered this act of will . Nicolas: Je te dis des que je vois une giraffe.
During the days in North of Kenya, we have come across Masai people and Zamuuru tribes - the latter are beautiful, man and woman dressed in very vivid colors (pink, yellow, blue, etc) with the women wearing very colorful jewelries made out of bids of all colors - long necks with necklaces, ears perced with the lobe being extended by wooden hearings! The Masai healers are also beautiful.
The main new staple with regard to food in Kenya so far is Chapati - some kind of bread - pancake that is really good - I like it a lot. We will be crossing the Equator tomorrow. Amazing to think that we are now close to half of our trip! We are now getting closer to the "South Africa economy" i.e., it will soon be easier to find cold drinks, chocolate and ice cream (so are we told - we already had ice cream today!!!) but from my side I will be missing the bush camps although we are supposed to still have some and Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa so still many challenge ahead of us.
By the way, internet connection in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya have been really slow and thus the reason for my silence on the blog. Just a few words on Southern Ethiopia - It became gradually hotter but it was still paved roads with the main challenge remaining the kids with their rocks
I am still amazed that I managed to exit Ethiopia without major "rock accidents" - The group was pretty relieved to leave Ethiopia and the "dangerous kids" (rather funny to that 6 years old kids can scare cyclists . I still keep a very good memory of Ethipia - beautiful landscape, amazing music (I discovered Teddy Afro- a national singer now in jail because of his statements...) and still in the overall kind people.
The group is doing better - In the Southern Ethiopia we had a lot of cyclists really sick (diarrhea, fever. cold) and it was getting around very fast. 50 cyclist sharing food, camping ground, toilets and proximity - a dream field for these germs! From my side, I had diarrhea for almost 10 days and had no choice but to take antibiotic (with one day of vomiting, being very weak and no food) - but thanks god, I am over that one and I feel now stronger - cross my fingers!
That's it for now. Life is amazing -- Sunsets and all!
Next blog - I will talk more about group life, camping and food !!!
Take good care of you all!