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Highest Point

Updated: Feb 22, 2020

Stage 28: Gorge to Bridge Camp

Today not long but it did involve a steep climb about halfway into the ride. My legs just weren’t into it, it seemed. But kept the chain on the largest rear cog, and just didn’t worry about the pace.

Backing this up to the start, I woke feeling tired. Which is actually unusual given how early it’s into bed and lights out around here. Anyway, got up and the usual routine of packing up in the dark, loading bag onto truck and then getting a cup of cocoa (avoiding coffee and dairy for a day or two until the guts settle down) to really start the day. Another cool morning up here, so I’m wearing my jacket for the first hour or so into the ride, and glad of it.

Again, lovely roads and great open vistas in these central highlands. Traffic is light as well, as usual for the initial hours.

There’s eventually some harassment from roadside youths on the days ride, but nobody hurt today. However, I think I’ll put that topic aside and perhaps write up some summary thoughts as we leave Ethiopia and get into Kenya.

The road, which had been undulating along nicely, kicks up significantly at about 40 km, and sure enough, it’s another steep climb. We reach the lunch stop a couple of kilometres below the first and major summit. Normally, I wouldn’t like to eat much during a climb, and certainly not so close to the top, but on the other hand, I’m never one to turn down a lunch. The hill today is actually comprised of three peaks with minor dips in between. The first summit sees us reach 3122 m asl, the highest point in this whole tour. The views are impressive; it’s really very pretty landscape.

The following two summits are dispatched with only a little groaning on my part. I do take a break to sit down on the third, however, and savour the moment. Then it’s almost 20 kilometres of all downhill to camp. The road throws just enough surprises at us, so that we can’t go full out; too many sudden potholes, gravelly sections so that we have to exercise at least some discretion.

Camp is reached by 1:00-1:30; it’s a nice location, situated on a bench of a small river, flattish and grassy. Several riders choose to wander into the nearby village, another kilometre down the road, to sample the beer and a view over the Portuguese Bridge and river gorge (tributary river to the Blue Nile). I choose to hang tight at camp, rehydrating on water and tea, and write up yesterday.

It’s a pleasant afternoon, only somewhat disturbed by bothersome flies, attendant to the nearby gazing cattle I suppose. Some great smells start wafting over the camp about 4:00; Ephrem and Muluken, our Ethiopian crew, are grilling split chickens over charcoal. It’ll be a great dinner!

I was right.

A bit of a rush toward the end of dinner. An approaching storm front threatens rain; Jolien and I have pitched our tents in relative low ground, so we scramble to move both in the dying light of day. But better now than in the middle of a nighttime deluge. I missed my evening cocoa, too. It’s a harsh world sometimes.

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David Williamson
David Williamson
Feb 19, 2020

It’s all downhill from here! Seems like the storm is the first bit of weather you have had - hope that keeps up.

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