Odometer reading - 3600 km.
I sit by the roof top pool of the Intercontinental Hotel as I write this blog on my iPhone using the hotel Wifi connection...having just ordered a St. George beer, and a cheeseburger and chips. Such a contrast to our past week and the world outside of this hotel.
A week ago, after sleeping off the Mardi Gras party, we headed for Addis. Our run to Addis was a climber's paradise which included 600 km of riding up and down between 1800 metres (600 feet) and 3100 meters (10,000 feet).
The highlight of the riding week was a time trial up the side of the Blue Nile Gorge. After a 45 km warmup of rolling hills, a 20km descent took us to the bottom of the gorge...some of the most daring riders were able to get to speeds of close to 80 kph. And of course, what goes down must go back up. The time trial started at the bottom of the gorge - 20km to the top with an average of an 8% grade...essentially think of 20 km of the steepest road close to your house. Yes...a hard day for sure. But certainly rewarding, even for the couple of riders who held on to the back of passing trucks as relief...or the person who paid some local kids to walk his bike to the top as he followed close behind.
Sickness continues to plague the TDA camp, and I'm in awe of those who power through the these long rides while under the weather...in search of the elusive EFI award, which is given out to those riders who pedal Every Flippin Inch of the way!!
On arrival in the bigger cities we typically gather at the city limits and ride into town in convoy. Yesterday's convoy included only about 70 per cent of the riders who started the TDA, which reminded me of the toll that this adventure has taken on the group. Beside those stricken with some degree of stomach bacteria, there have been a full array of ailments and injuries which have kept people off the bike or even landed people in the hospital - infected wisdom teeth, concussions, a broken bone - just to name a few. Long days of peddling in sometimes hostile conditions, new foods, and outdoor living in Africa, is taking its toll.
On a positive note, our chef continues to keep our appetites happy even when food availability can be scarce. It's fasting time in Ethiopia which means that the Ethiopian Orthodox are are not allowed to eat meat. The TDA chef has therefore had to be creative in getting meat for our dinners. His latest ventured in involved buying 9 sheep from a local farmer and then finding a Muslim butcher to slaughter and cut the meat. Mutton stew, grilled mutton, mutton and pasta are some of dishes that have filled our bellies this past week.
We leave Addis in the morning and I suspect that we have plenty more climbing in our future as we make our way to the Kenya border.