Greetings from Ethiopia,
We just finished likely the toughest stretch of the tour. It was eight days of riding, in some very difficult conditions. Temperatures each day were over 100 F (41 C) and the roads bone shaking and unforgiving for three of the days.
I’m sitting in our hotel lobby writing this blog and recovering from a violent 12 hour illness, something I’ve heard about, but never experienced. I had absolutely no control over my body, as evidenced by doing the dirty deed on the side of the road with about 30 kids and a number of adults watching.
Day 1 and 2 were warm ups for the grueling off-road conditions for days 3, 4 and 5. We rode 185 miles the first two days on decent pavement and then the fun began. Three days and about 275 km (170 miles) on a gravel, sandy and uneven surfaces. About 80% was washboard, (a mountain biking term). If you don’t know what a washboard is, then ask your Mother. If she doesn’t know, then ask your Grandmother. Mountain bikers call it washboard because of the similarity to a washboard used for laundering cloths many moons ago. The surface is corrugated and relentlessly bumpy. It shakes every bone in your body. In any case, I was pedaling for over 17 hours for days 4 & 5. For those two days, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I was lost twice, that cost me a couple of hours. I had 3 flats one day. My riding partner one morning stopped 7 or 8 times for diarrhea, once requiring a wardrobe change from the waist down and then that afternoon my new riding partner flatted 4 times. Tough, tough, days. Surprisingly, day 6 & 7 were a different story, as I felt pretty good and handled the pavement and climbing into Ethiopia quite well. Then it was all down hill, as far as my health was concerned. That night at about 4:00 am I was sick, sick, sick. I spent day 8 in the truck waiting to get to our hotel, for the two days of rest in Gondar.
Despite these difficulties, there were some memorable highlights. In every small village we rode, the villagers all came out on mass to greet the strange looking foreigners on two wheels. Smiles, waves and warm welcomes abounded, especially in the Sudan.
Day 6 we entered our third country and breezed through the Ethiopian border and regrouped at the bar / brothel that was about 50 meters from the border crossing. Some of the riders having a real sense of satisfaction of their accomplishment and others ecstatic about being able to get a beer after 17 days of being in Sudan, (no alcohol in a Muslim country).
We have now travelled over 3,000 km.
In closing, I have to commend this fine group of people that have melded together like a close family. Everyone is supporting each other and genuinely concerned with the health and well being of their fellow adventurers. About 60 – 70% of us have come down with some sort of illness. My guess it will be no problem hitting the 80% mark, as anticipated by our tour operators.
Loving a bed and shower. It’s heavenly.
Good to hear from you Hobe, wow, what an experience, happy you are feeling better. All is well in PS. Continue to be safe & enjoy the ride Easy Rider, Look forward to your next blog. Jodi & Derb
Derbs, Thanks for the continued comments and support. Miss you guys
Wow Mike! I don’t know how you’ve done it! It sounds beyond grueling. Needless to say we are impressed w your “intestinal fortitude” and Strength! Stay healthy from here on out. Safe travels!
Thanks for the update, Mike. I’m very much impressed with your endurance and tenacity. Do you have any idea what is making everybody sick?
Mike (your friend Marc’ s cousin) Gemus
Hi, some type of bug. There is so much filth and dirt, it could be anywhere. Maybe the water. A few have been spared, but about 70% have been ill to date.
Hey Claudia, thanks for the support. I’ll certainly appreciate the comforts of DM when I return.
Thanks Claudia. Hi to Mark
Never doubted your dedication or fortitude…and the stories just get more amazing!
Thanks Judi. Hi to Scott
Amazing adventures, Hob, really hoping and trusting you have more downhill rides from here on – be safe, DJ
Thanks DJ. Amazing experience
Hey Mike – glad to hear you survived the affliction and are back on your way. We stayed at the Goha Hotel (gohahotel.com/) in Gondar. Any chance you guys stayed there? Is Gondar cool or what with all the Italian influence? We’ve been thinking about you a lot and are really proud of you for knocking out 3000 kliks. Friggen amazing! Hey, we have one more friend joining us/you in Windhoek – Eric Brandenburg. Erick is with the UN and he’s currently stationed in Mogadishu. You’re going to like this guy. He showed us all around Bosnia and Serbia when he was stationed there. Mike – when you get to Addis check out the Sheraton Hotel (http://www.sheratonaddis.com/). It’s over the top and you deserve it. Alex, Troy and I have been riding a lot. Troy and I in anticipation of meeting up with you. Alex because he’s a friggen cyborg. We always wonder how you are doing and we always send you our best thoughts. This is a monumental effort you have undertaken. You will have stories to last a lifetime! Ride strong Hermano! Gil
Thanks Gil. Yes we stayed at the Goha hotel in Gondar. Really enjoyed it. I tried booking the Sherston in Addis, but it and the Hilton are both booked. I did get a room at the Mariotte. Looking forward to meeting Eric. Troy has said a lot of good things about him. Hi to th gang. Ciao
We have been wondering how you have been doing, Mike. Praying for you and looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks when you come to Kimbilio Hospice. We are so grateful for the incredible trek you are making on behalf of our people in Kenya who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
Hi Allison. So nice hearing from you. I’m really looking forward to meeting you, Julie and the team at Kilmbilio Hospice. Let me know if you don’t have my flight info. I’ll send an email to Julie when I get closer to Nairobi. Love & Prayers to all