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Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Stage 36: Turbi to Marsabit

Another early start as we’d been warned about today; crossing to headwinds, heat and a notable climb at the end. All came true.

Once again, first 90 minutes or so very pleasant as sun came up; lovely shadows on the surrounding bush, good tarmac surface and barely any traffic with which to contend. Long gradual downhill also helped set a good pace.

We’re cycling through a relatively featureless terrain of East African Rift flood basalts. For a few of us, at least, this is fascinating: to hopefully not bore everyone to tears, the East African Rift (EAR) or East African Rift System (EARS) is an active continental rift zone in East Africa. The EAR began developing around the onset of the Miocene, 22–25 million years ago. The rift, a narrow zone, is a developing divergent tectonic plate boundary where the African Plate is in the process of splitting into two tectonic plates, called the Somali Plate and the Nubian Plate, at a rate of 6–7 mm annually. As extension continues, lithospheric rupture will occur within 10 million years; the Somali Plate will break off and a new ocean basin will form.

* white boards by Mara Scallon, TDA

Well, to be honest, it fascinated me for only the first couple of hours; once the sun was truly up and heating the air, we were hammered by strong crossing to front quarter winds. These persisted right through the day until maybe the last ~10 kilometres. They did occasionally mix it up though, as the road turned one way or the other into headwinds. Delightful variation.

I’ve no idea of the official temperatures but fellow riders reported +40° on the tarmac using their various electronic gizmos. I kept sipping water every 10 minutes or less, and we kept spinning along to the lunch break. Only a quick stopover there before pushing on; Alice, Rachel and myself. We tried to maintain an ‘en echelon’ pace line as crosswinds dictated; or simply a half-wheel line in the case of headwinds. We were doing 5 km turns at the front which seemed to work.

Things started to unwind for yours truly when we got to the uptick in grade during the last 30-40 km. Only 600-700 m but it same in repetitive steeper sections with some levelling off. We’d picked up several more riders at this point, before encountering Grace and Brigitta. Grace had flatted. Bob and I (mostly Bob) swapped the tube over, and we found the causative thorn in the tire, removing that before bothering to insert a new tube. Off we set again, and now it definitely steepened.

I managed to maintain loose contact with most of our small group up to the volcanic crater, roadside; Alice had easily dropped us all. One more (two more?) climbs and we’d make Marsabit. As the others continued, I definitely cracked, and couldn’t keep up. So I just drank some more water, scarfed some nuts and went on at my own pace. Not pretty perhaps but eventually up and over.

* panaramic photo courtesy Michiel van Walsem

Campsite tonight is a lovely Catholic Nuns pastoral centre on the far edge of Marsabit town; camping available although I opted for a single room, shared facilities. Dinner here at the centre, fell into bed directly after. Nothing left.

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