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Big Smoke

Stage 29: Bridge Camp to Addis Ababa

This was going to be a relatively short day, but with ‘some’ climb toward the end. It turned out to be a tougher day than most had anticipated.

First being a steep, long climb right out of the camp and breakfast, to get back up out of the river valley onto the highlands; well, it got the blood flowing all right.

Once up onto the higher ground, lots of long rolling hills, sweeping curves; downhills yes, but some steepish uphills. Actually, a lovely morning ride.

Given the need to ‘convoy’ the last 15 km or so into Addis Ababa itself (due to just crazy traffic), Tallis has requested that we ‘hold’ at the lunch spot until all riders in, before individually proceeding to rendezvous; no need to push on too early to the convoy start on hilltop above city, as nowhere particularly nice to wait... the result is I’m at the lunch spot for over an hour, and of course getting lazy and settled in the late morning sunshine.

The run after lunch ~28 km is then simply nasty. Increasing traffic, no or minimal shoulder, industrial and urban development with loads of people darting in, out and across my path. A good stiff climb of ~300 m right at the end up to rendezvous; trucks grinding up the hill off my left shoulder. A tanker truck goes by, the blast from its exhaust pipe literally blowing off the tarmac onto the gravel shoulder. But all things end, and rendezvous reached.

Addis is there in the distance. I’m surprised by the obvious development since I’d seen it; skyscrapers in fact.

Our convoy into the city proper and our campsite at the Addis Ababa Golf Course eventually gets underway... down a good long, twisting hill. It’s not easy to keep the group tight, but we do it safely and after several convolutions arrive. What a relief! I’d already arranged a room at nearby guesthouse in the Embassy District, but given the warmth of early afternoon, decide on a restorative beer before looking for a taxi. Good decision, I feel.

The guesthouse is a quiet oasis. Upon checking into room, I see another fellow with bicycle similarly entering adjacent room. Too much of a coincidence to be other than one of the new TDA sectional riders, I think. Yes, turns out it’s Fred and we end up chatting.

Very good steak-frites later at out-of-the-way place in the city followed by a better sleep.

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