Posted by: Dana | 2010/03/10

March 6 – Heading into the Floods

I write this as I’m tucked in my tent after spending a lovely rest day in Marsabit, Kenya.  It’s amazing how quickly rest days fly by.  We have several chores to complete on each rest day, which take up more time than one would think.  I washed laundry by hand and cleaned my bike, reorganized my locker and my duffel bags, and went into town a few kilometers down the road with several folks for dinner.  We ate outdoors at a local place where I went last night to drink a few beers with a few other riders and our TDA cook.  There were no menus, but goat was served tonight.  The owner of the place came by with a bunch of goat legs and carved meat off the bones for the six of us to eat with our fingers along with chips (french fries).  It was tasty and amazing how I don’t balk when I hear that goat is what’s for dinner.  Whatever it is, as long as it is plentiful, works for me these days!

So my last blog posting was written after our first day of riding on the dirt in northern Kenya.  Now, I have two more days under my belt and, honestly, I can’t do this description justice.  The roads are horrendous—they barely exist, in fact.  It is rocky and sandy and gravelly and corrugated lava.  It’s nearly impossible to keep the bike upright.  I sustained a few falls (which apparently means I was exerting an appropriate amount of effort) and gouged my leg when my metal water bottle holder broke off from my bike.  After bumping around for nearly nine hours on the second day, and arriving in camp nearly delirious, I had very little gas left in my tank for the 3rd day.  Seeing a majority of riders load onto the trucks in the morning, without even attempting to start the 3rd day, I was a bit deflated and mentally didn’t have the strength I needed to get through the day.  It was over 100 degrees before 8AM and when the final truck came upon me, and I had already fallen and hurt myself on the water bottle cage, I hopped on.  Quickly, it was clear that riding the truck is as miserable as riding on the roads, and I made another attempt after the lunch stop to get back on the bike.  We arrived in Marsabit, a small Kenyan town that sits on top of a volcano, after a 20km climb that took us out of lava desert conditions and into a more lush habitat (but not onto a better road).  We made ourselves at home in what appears to be a quiet Catholic campground/school where nuns have been cooking for us.  We have pitched tents all over the lawn and hung up our clothes to dry on lines between the trees.

Erin, my Ironman friend and fellow rider, and I agreed yesterday to wake up early for a short run this morning to remind our legs how to run.  Since it is our rest day, and since neither of us have run in nearly two months, we had planned for a very short and slow run.  We awoke to more soaking rains, but decided to stick with our plan, anyhow.  Within moments, our shoes were submerged in red mud, it was caked on, and we limped along on the same dirt road that nearly destroyed us and our bikes yesterday, only this time the road looked more like a muddy river.  The very few cars that were on the roads careened and got stuck in the mud, and it became immediately obvious that if we have another night of rain tonight as we did last night, our TDA trucks are not going to get out of here.  Besides, I can’t imagine how difficult and disgusting it will be to try to navigate these roads by bike when they turn into a thick mud river.

Anyhow, we are inching closer to the equator and will pass it in three days time.  I hope there is a sign on the roadside to indicate the spot.  I’ve never been in the southern hemisphere, so this will be a first for me.  We have another two and a half days on this crazy road, before we hit pavement as we get closer to Nairobi.  It’s another long stretch here—six riding days that start tomorrow morning until we arrive in Nairobi—lots of mileage to cover and some nasty conditions to face on our way there.  Praying for no rain but we heard tonight of the major flooding that has caused casualties in Ipsiola, where we are scheduled to be in just two days time.  Let’s hope the roads aren’t completely washed away.

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