Monday, 15 March 2010


Tanzania is a beautiful country. It doesn't take long to understand the magic of African bush complimented by two giant volcanoes facing each other. I am referring to Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru. These two mountains give Northern Tanzania an extra dimension to the beauty of its nature. The roads we took today to reach Arusha took us through perfect African scenery's, the ones you have seen in the famous "Out of Africa" movie. It was intense, the trees were perfectly shaped, the bush looked healthy and green, hundreds of colourful butterflies kept on crossing the road in front of us and plenty of birds were calling exotic songs as we scrolled down heading south. I was so enchanted by this that I decided to slow down and ride alone for a while, just listening at the sounds of Africa and enjoying the scents of the bush.

At kilometer 40, I rejoined with Jos and Peter from South Africa and it was a lucky move. I had my first big problem on the bike. My back tyre got a flat, so I stopped to fix it. As Jobs offered to pump extra air in my front tyre while I was replacing the back one, the front tyre tube valve broke. The tube inside my back tyre was also completely out of order and I realised that it had the same problem, the valve was busy braking. The 5500 km had beaten the tubes so badly that they both needed to be replaced.. I always carry two spare tubes with me, unfortunately one of them proved to be also destroyed by the vibrations inside the saddle bag. It had holes all over it. So now I was standing with 1 tube and 2 wheels to be fixed. Jos is using different size valves, which meant that his spare tube could not help. So Peter was the one who made my day since he is riding the same size wheel and valve as me. We were not out of the woods yet as my pump suddenly decided that it would not cooperate and Peter"s pump only puffed sand... At that point, Jen one of our female riders passed by and lent me her pump so we could get going...

The incident had taken almost an hour to sort out and now we were suddenly right at the back of the race. Chriss, our bike mechanic was doing the sweep today and appeared just as I was putting back the second wheel on the bike. We pushed hard all the way to lunch catching the last few riders that had passed us while we were fixing the tyres. There was a nice climb after lunch as we had to scroll along Mount Meru foothills to get to Arusha. This took us back to an altitude of 1800 meters before we plunged back into the savanna surrounding Arusha.

It was a long straight downhill where we almost lost Jos again.... At one point the dirt road split into two and Jos made the wrong call, he choose the right hand road which had an enormous hole filled with fine clay dust. As he hit this he flew over his handle bar and went straight into this giant hole, head first. I was right behind Jos when that happened and had managed somehow to anticipate the situation, so all I saw was Jos going over his handle bar and disappearing into a big cloud of dust, before he reappeared standing up, completely black. It was a miracle as he stood up unhurt and covered with this fine clay dust. A group of local girls passed by walking along the road and exploded in laughter when they saw Jos face, so did Peter and I.

Arusha is a relatively well developed town and you can immediately see the benefit of income from tourism here. It is a major hub for safaris and for climbing Kilimanjaro.The town has a modern feeling to it especially when you arrive from the dirt road like we did. Traffic lights, some nice looking vitrines and hotels do contrast with the African style shops made of corrugated sheets. At night, it is not very safe apparently and we were advised to use taxis to move around. Our camp is the Masai camp, a well known spot here in Arusha, but I joined Jos to the New Arusha hotel since a bit of luxury will do us good. We have the longest brake of the tour, 3 days, so I am going to visit the world famous Ngorongoro crater situated 160 km from here.
The first thing we did in our dirty cycling shorts on arrival at the very stylish New Arusha hotel was to order a huge hamburger with extra chips. At least we have our priorities right here, first the stomach, then the shower...

                                                    Jos after his fall head first into the dust
                                                             Home made wheelbarrow
                                      Coke stop during the climb of the foothills of Mt Meru
                                   Here too, road constructions going on to pave this section.
                                   For us it means dust and heavy vehicles.
                          This section was supposed to be dirt but it has been paved since last year.
                                                                   Meeting the locals
                                  This guy on his single speed bicycle was hard to follow uphill....
                                   Beautiful Tanzania.What a privilege to ride in such countryside
                                        TDA crossing the border between Kenya and Tanzania.
                                Ruben enjoying the Italian salami, Swiss cheese and Chilean wine
                              The luxury Swiss Italian dinner organised by Maria Pia and Gabriele


Claudia & Rainer said...

Hi Jaana,
today is a day, where we want to say thanks to you for all your effort in maintaining this blog. Every night we are waiting for the updates. And the waiting was always worth it.
Like we admire Gerald for doing the riding job we admire you for your publishing job which give us our daily pictures and impression about Africa.
All the best for you and warm greeting for Gerald from still cold Munich,
Claudia and Rainer

Anonymous said...

Gerald, I´m Joan from Andorra. Think about that: if the tyres are destroyed .... what about your bones? Jaana has told us that you are the oldest EFI at present!!! I have only one word , admiration , but be prudent and take care about your old bones!!!!