Posted by: Dana | 2010/03/10

March 10 – Hoping Didn’t Help and the Rains Came

As I re-read the blog entry I wrote a few days ago, I have to laugh.  The skies opened up a week or more ago, and it has been unrelenting.  We wake up each morning to soaking rain, we pack our things into wet bags and our clothes and tents smell like mildew.  We slip our feet into wet shoes and begin the day.

The ride out of Marsabit was incredibly special.  The muddy roads were red and the color against the backdrop of lush green was absolutely beautiful.  Mist and a light fog covered the area we rode through, which started out in the Marsabit National Park.  Within the first 10km, riding with a young British guy, Mike, we were lucky to encounter about 50 or 70 baboons.  Just a few kilometers later, we spotted an enormous animal crossing the street a few hundred meters in front of us.  As we approached we saw that it was an enormous elephant.  As we got even closer, the TDA ride leader, Paul, also joined us to watch the elephant and warned that if it twitches his ears, we should ride really fast.  It made me a little nervous, because we were close, and later I learned that Paul was speaking from experience as he got chased by an elephant last year!  Anyhow, it was a remarkable experience being able to ride up next to an elephant in the wild, with huge tusks and an absolutely humongous body.

The next couple of days were incredibly taxing, both on the body and mind.  My bike does not have suspension—front or rear.  I only have a suspension seat post which allows for a little give on my seat when I’m riding on rocks.  Fingers started to go numb, blisters formed, arms ached, and my first sores developed on my bum (from the wet riding shorts).   After one of the 10 hour days of pounding, I woke up the next morning feeling as if I had been hit by a truck.

The terrain changed as quickly as the weather and we passed beautiful farms, desolate deserts, lava fields, and rolling hills.  We encountered members of a nomadic Kenyan tribe, the Samburu, who were thrilling in their elaborate body decorations—necks full of beads with pearcings and holes in parts of their bodies that I had never seen.  They were friendly people, and often waved and seemed curious about us and our journey.  I took some amazing pictures.  They had feathers and flowers coming out of their heads, earings jetting out from the tops of their ears, and cuts across their chests that left deep scars.  I had truly amazing encounters with people who live off the land and clearly have a very distinct culture that is so far different from ours that it is pretty much incomprehensible.  Their appearances are so striking, so fascinating, and so curious, I wish I knew more about their traditions and their lifestyle.

So yesterday we finally hit pavement, after nearly a week of roughing it off-road, but unfortunately, I didn’t do it without getting my full share of tumbling. Riding after a very long day off-road, through torrential rains and knee-deep puddles (literally!) the day before yesterday, I finally hit a smooth patch of dirt and was cruising along.  I was only about 3km from camp.  I noticed the path in front of me was obstructed by a pile of rocks and there didn’t seem to be enough space to pass on the side of it, without risking falling down the steep rocky embankment.  So, I pushed on my breaks and intended to lift the bike over the rocks and continue.  Well, you can guess what happened next—the brakes failed, I hit the rocks, and off I went, tumbling down approximately 15 feet down the embankment.  Oh how I howled and felt so sorry for myself!  I was totally shaken up. Worried that no other rider would find me, because I was so deeply hidden in the ditch, I considered throwing my helmet up to the road.  Finally I climbed out, I left the bike in the ditch, and thankfully, another rider (my roommate from Cairo) soon came by with antiseptics and a lot of compassion to help me get myself together.  I limped along to get into camp where the nurses helped to patch me up.  I think I was very lucky—some abrasions and some ugly bruises, but nothing broken except for my brakes, which the mechanic tended to that evening.  The riders are very supportive and helpful when they see a rider limp into camp with tears and bloody knees, and that was my night.  Hopefully, it won’t be repeated.

Anyhow, I’m in a queue for the internet so I need to finish this up quickly. Tomorrow is the equator crossing (and another 104km ride) and then we have one more day of riding before we get to Nairobi.  Just yesterday, Eythan confirmed his plans to Africa for work, and he was able to figure out some creative travel planning in order to meet me in Nairobi for my day off there.  I can’t wait to see him and am so looking forward to this upcoming rest day.


  1. Dana,
    Whatever will you do for fun and excitement upon your return from your biking “adventure”? Still say you ought to consider writing a book-a journal. You have a way with words;always look forward to chats with Auntie Marge regarding your blogs. Be well-stay in one piece.

  2. hiya i was amazed by your story and wondered if youcould keep in touch and let me know how your getting on i was chatting to you tonight at the sportsmans club in nanyuki im the guy in the royal air force. thought you where amazing and that was a hell of a bruise funny you couldnt zip you trousers back up. hope you had good night and good luck would love to join u on ride next time x dave x

  3. Dana, It is fascinating to read about your progress. What an amazing journey. Keep pedalling and stay safe. We are routing for you. Ted

  4. Have fun with Eythan. Lucky guy to be able to be with you!!! Rest, relax and recoup. ILY-great to hear your voice the other day.

  5. This is the best novel I have ever read. Keep on going, you have to be tough as nails by now.

  6. Dana,
    I’m visiting with our dear friend Chris and marveling over your adventure. Looking over your packing list reminded me of the packing list we followed for our five day sailing expedition to (was it?) governor’s island. 🙂 You would have never believed then you – some 12 years late – would be biking across Africa!! Thats what I love about life. So glad you’re blogging along the way. Continue free and safe pedaling! Way to go Dana!!! -Liza

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