Saturday, August 31, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 9

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Tuesday 6 August 2013
We planned to start early to ride the 80 kilometre section between Shinyanga and Nzega. We were delayed by some pre-departure tasks and only managed to cover half of that distance.

What began as a simple change of pedals on my bicycle became a major pit stop. I changed the entire pedaling mechanism. My bill:
  • pedals Shs.3,000 ($US 1.90)
  • pedal mechanism Shs.7,000 ($US 4.40)
  • service charge Shs.3,000 ($US 1.90)
Afterwards the mechanic told me I would be able to ride to Dar es Salaam without a hitch. I told him that's what the mechanic who changed the pedals in Mwanza told me and I have already changed the pedals within 4 days.
The repair session at Shinyanga.
We had a tailwind behind us today and by 1530hrs we had cycled a distance of 40 kilometres to Tinde, at the junction to Kahama.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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Between Kizumbi and Samuye we stopped for lunch where an old man asked for the list of 17 countries that Ross had cycled through and then he asked me for my my telephone number which is a change from the normal routine of asking Ross for his number.

Next: "Why don't you take a car?"

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-8.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/09/riding-with-ross-methven-day-10.html

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 8

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Monday 5 August 2013
I was awake before 0500hrs, dozed off and was startled at 0635hrs and just barely made it out for our agreed departure time. Finding a place that had chapatis and tea ready at that time proved impossible. Hungumalwa does not rise up early.

We had a much stronger headwind throughout the day.

When we reached a point to ask for directions and road conditions on the dirt road from Bubigi to Shinyanga through Old Shinyanga, the first person discouraged us, saying it was a "rough road." He advised us to take the longer 60+ kilometre route on the main new highway to Shinyanga. I translated the advice to Ross and suggested we should seek a second opinion. "And even a third opinion," Ross added. We were on the same wavelength; going the long way was not an option.


On further inquiry, when the same cyclist we had sought advice from said the distance on the shorter route was only 25 kilometres, the 'debate' was closed; we decided we would cycle through the old shorter route. When cycling, the difference between 25 and 60 kilometres is monumental.

One thing about Shinyanga region - which I knew about - was its extraordinary cyclists. I witnessed, first hand, how women, men, girls, and boys routinely swiftly passed us as if we were at a standstill. They may be carrying less baggage but they do possess an edge over us.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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At the outskirts of Old Shinyanga we were relieved to resume cycling on tarmac after more than four hours on the dirt road.
After a bumpy four hours on the dirt road, we were both relieved to resume cycling on tarmac.
Today, we had cycled the farthest distance yet, 62.5 kilometres.

Next: Shinyanga to Tinde


Related posts:

http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methvenday-7.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-9.html

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven:day 7

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Sunday, 4 August 2013
Early in the morning we rode against a long climb and a head wind. The headwind lasted for the entire day's ride. It was difficult but not yet as difficult as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am confident that I am building up my endurance - and I can feel the change taking effect.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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I came across the same traffic police officer who I thought had given a speeding ticket to Ross yesterday. At the same place I adjusted the angle of my seat and I experienced a tremendous relief.
At mid morning, Shinyanga was still a day's ride away.
 I still lag far behind Ross but I get off the bicycle less to walk when confronted by ascents. Lagging behind as I do, I found Ross seated along one of the settlements and having already ordered and finished his lunch. He said, "Sorry, I was very hungry." His highlight of the day was that he had managed to order his lunch in Swahili: Wali na mchuzi. He meant to order rice and beef stew, although what he actually said missed the "beef." But miraculously, he was served rice with beef stew.
Ross, resisting a siesta, after completing his lunch of rice with beef stew.
We slept at Hungumalwa, in Kwimba District at New Nkondo Guest House.

Next: The longest distance yet

Related posts:

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Seven-Year-Old Conquers Mt Kilimanjaro

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Seven-Year-Old Conquers Mt Kilimanjarotrip

Here's a break from accompanying Ross Methven on his Edinburgh to Cape Town mega cycling fundraising trip while I briefly focus on Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is the story of a seven-year old who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in March 2013.

The Kilimanjaro National Parks Authority (KINAPA) normally does not allow children of less than 16 years to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro but, once in a while, I hear these incredible feats of children who manage to reach the summit. Normally KINAPA will ask the accompanying adults to sign a waiver in the event of a calamity.

That fact that Aaryan Balaji was accompanied by his mother probably is a testament of how capable this young man is and says something about the confidence of a mother in his son.

I would not permit a seven-year old to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 6

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Saturday, 3 August 2013
For someone who has never cycled more than 10 kilometres at a time, I feel in relatively good shape having cycled more than 200 kilometres in 5 days. True, my thigh muscles are yet to overcome some of the uphill cycling challenges but I am heartened by the fact that during this cycling trip I have not yet experienced the perennial question that I face when I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro: what am I doing here?

If you face the challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro without devoting the recommended three months of training then you will face a daunting task to reach the summit and you will most likely ask yourself that question as you struggle up to the summit. I always feel I do not spend enough time on training.
Just before having our lunch, Ross poses at a signpost at Usagara, near Mwanza.
Earlier, after passing Buhongwa, we rode down a long descent and I was left far behind. When I caught up with Ross he had been stopped by a traffic police officer and I told him I thought he might have been stopped for overspeeding.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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Our original destination was a village beyond Misungwi but after we arrived at Misungwi and asked a police officer for advice she suggested that we should find accommodation at Misungwi because our intended destination did not have suitable accommodation. We decided we would compensate for the shortfall tomorrow.
A short rest and a photo of one of the day's scenes.
When I called my cousin who works in Misungwi and informed him of our presence, he insisted we visit his home where his wife prepared us an early dinner that was voraciously consumed. Unlike on Mt. Kilimanjaro where some climbers experience loss of appetite, I have found that while cycling the absence of an appetite is highly unlikely. Both while cycling and climbing Kilimanjaro, consumption of food is absolutely necessary to sustain the body's strength.

Not stopping at hosting us at home, my cousin also insisted in paying for our accommodation.

Next: Ross orders lunch in Swahili

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-5.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methvenday-7.html

Monday, August 5, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 5

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Friday, 2 August 2013
It is a day off in Mwanza today, dedicated to putting my bicycle in order while Ross spent the early part of the day posting the latest news on his Edinburgh to Cape Town cycling trip to his blog.

At breakfast I told Ross that I would have to ride with him only up to 10th August because I have a crucial meeting to attend in Dar es Salaam.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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We went through planning the route and estimated that, with 55 kilometres per day, we would reach somewhere near Singida in central Tanzania. I would then travel to Dar.

I heard what I thought was a most appropriate comment on a National Geographic television programme where an outdoor adventure enthusiast who was traversing the treacherous uninhabited parts of Alaska said he was doing it because, "it is there. If you have to ask that question then you certainly would not understand my answer."

That response certainly triggered a familiar tone inside me as I geared up to leave Mwanza tomorrow for my day's dose of 55 kilometres of cycling.

Next: A warm welcome at Misungwi.

Riding with Ross Methven: day 4

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Thursday, 1 August 2013
The idea we hatched over dinner last night with Yohana Ladislaus, our Ukerewe Island guide, was we would today take a short bicycle tour of the island before boarding the 1400hrs ferry to Mwanza. First, we had to take Ross to report to the district immigration office and I found the long gentle uphill cycling to the office quite challenging. I murmered to someone that my muscles were over fifty years old.

I told Yohana that, owing to my slower cycling speed, he should plan the itinerary in such a way to ensure that we return to Nansio in time to catch the 1400hrs ferry to Mwanza. He then changed the itinerary and decided that we should only go as far as the Chief's palace.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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So we set off on another lengthy ascent and when we began to descend on a long stretch of road that appeared to disappear into the horizon I knew I would not want to paddle up that road so I turned back and headed to the hotel while Ross and Yohana continued to the palace.

I bought a pair of training shoes to replace my old Safari boots which are past retirement age and which are extremely ill-adapted to cycling and walking. The latter of which I find myself doing quite regularly.
My trainers.
We boarded a super slow ferry and over three hours later we arrived in Mwanza.
Everyone feels like sleeping on the slow ferry to Mwanza.
Mwanza, on our arrival.
Next: a day off in Mwanza

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-3.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-5.html

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 3

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Wednesday, 31 July 2013
We began cycling early, at around 0730hrs, worried that we had a long stretch from Kibara to Kisorya, the point where we would take the ferry across to Ukerewe Island on Lake Victoria.
At some point between Kibara and Kisorya we paused to observe the long road behind us.
We both thought we made good progress because when we stopped to ask how far ahead was the last village before reaching Kisorya, we were told we had already cycled passed it. We intended to have our lunch at that village. We lunched at Kisorya instead within the beach area where the ferry offloads. I had ugali (hard porridge) with a fish stew while Ross had ugali with roasted goat meat.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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The ferry arrived at Lugezi at 1530hrs and, more than an hour later, I stepped onto Ukerewe Island for the first time. Later I thanked Ross for being the cause of my arrival on Ukerewe. We cycled another 8 kilometres before reaching Nansio, the district headquarters.

In the evening our guide Yohana Ladislaus, who met us on his bicycle half way from Lugezi, gave us a rich account of a sampling of Ukerewe's history and a description of some of its varied cultural and historical attractions.

Next: Another ferry ride to Mwanza

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-2.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-4.html

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Riding with Ross Methven: day 2

Ross Methven is riding a bicycle from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently cycling through Tanzania and I am accompanying him on part of the Tanzanian leg. My Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, Yahoo, says cycling is one of the best training options for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Tuesday, 30 July 2013
We walked to the old Bunda bus stand in the morning where, at a tea shop, Ross had two rice buns, known as vitumbua in Swahili, and I had three Chapatis, all flushed down by a cup of green tea. The hotel where we stayed did not provide breakfast.

We were pushed by a strong wind behind us as we rode downhill from Bunda in the direction of Lake Victoria. Ross said it was the first time he was riding on a rough road. We sought relief from the rough road by riding on the relatively softer foot paths running parallel to the road that were occasionally used by motorcyclists and small vehicles.

Our modest breakfast did not provide us enough energy to push on and we stopped along the way for lunch.

By midday we had decided that we would not be able to reach the ferry crossing with the existing road conditions and we aimed at reaching Kibara for an overnight stay. Ross' map indicated that Kibara was about halfway between Bunda and Kisorya. At Kibara he said we covered a distance of 32 miles. That is 44.8 kilometres. I wonder why he is on the metric system.
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If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
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I keep struggling to keep up with Ross, who rode his bicycle all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland, is on his way to Cape Town and has already cycled through 16 countries. He rides effortlessly uphill although he says that the few weeks he has taken off to rest has reduced his cycling fitness. I find myself having to get off the bicycle and walk when the climb is too steep for my strength. During the instances that I walk uphill I manage quite well and I assume that hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro has strengthened my "walking" muscles but the cycling muscles need some time to develop. In fact, I discovered some muscles that I sit on that I never knew existed.

I have changed my diet for this cycling trip and have been eating more ugali (hard porridge) than normal, having taken a cue from the guides and porters of Mt. Kilimanjaro who prefer ugali to other dishes because it provides a considerable energy boost compared to the dishes served to the climbers.

Next post: Ride to Kisorya

Related posts:
http://www.rossmethvensbigbikeride.co.uk/
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/07/riding-with-ross-methven-day-1.html
http://blogkili.blogspot.com/2013/08/riding-with-ross-methven-day-3.html