The drops of rain started at around 3.30 am ... the dilemma is always: do I get up and put the fly on my tent, or will this small shower just pass. One thing that this trip is reminding me is to always obey Murphy's Law, so I dutifully got up and took care of it, and remembered to take my laundry off the line - saving myself a week's worth of moldy riding clothes. It's 9 hours later and the steady rain has just subsided. This is important because we are in northern Kenya, where there is no pavement. The 4x4 pickup was not able to make it 200 meters from camp this morning - the rich, red African mud mixed with a bit of water makes for a juicy porridge that could make riding conditions after this rest day quite adventurous ... we shall see.
Getting to this rest day has been a test of patience, bike skills and bum calluses. Day 1 from the border was a nice tune up - fairly smooth dirt road with a little corrugation to keep us on our toes. Day 2 started with a continuation of prior day's road, but each rider knew that the lava fields were coming. The last 25km of loose rock lining tracks created by years of use by trucks and 4x4s, was sort of like skiing a mogul run ... you have a couple choices. One option is to put your head down and power straight through. But like a mogul run, not a wise choice. Or you can pick your line, and then navigate through the rocks down the chosen path. I continue to be amazed by human resilience, as the body takes an amazing beating going through this terrain, but I am now even more amazed that the bikes are up to the challenge as well ... knock on wood. Day 3, yesterday, is considered the hardest day of the TDA and it did not disappoint. Hot weather, lava rock, corrugation and some climbing for 85 km. I think that this year's TDAers had the advantage of the Dinder experience(reference previous blogs), which prepared us mentally for yesterday's conditions. Although it was a bit grueling at times, the last 3 days were quite an experience - fun, as I joke with some others. I have to admit that there were plenty of times when it was far from fun, but whenever non-productive thoughts started to take over, all I had to think is - wow, I'm riding a bike across Africa!!!!!...or throw on my iPod and listen to some Bruce. And when it's all said and done, no matter how fast I rode or how hard the day was, rolling into camp, getting off the bike and sitting in an almost meditative state absorbing the day's experience and feeling the body relax makes it all worthwhile.
A new country, and a rest day,there is only one thing to do ... eat drink and be merry. Lots of new foods and drinks to try - Tusker beer, samoosa, meat, Ugali and Irio for starters.
Time to go and give the Fuji (my bike) some TLC and get her ready for the possible mudfest to come. I hope to be able to post pictures when I get to Nairobi, next weekend.