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Into the Rift

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Stage 30: Addis Ababa to Lake Koka

Even though it was a Sunday morning, we departed the Golf Club campsite in convoy fashion a little after 07:00. Just as well, I think; traffic was enough that it didn’t need random cyclists adding to the craziness. It all went relatively smoothly, however, save for a splitting of the peloton at an intersection light, and then again at a further intersection when a runaway horse or pony was making it’s own break to freedom. In the end, Tallis ‘released’ us early at the ~15 kilometre mark, and we were away (so to speak).

Getting out of any major city is probably never nice; Addis is no exception. The first 35 km after the convoy release was a depressing series of light industrial developments and/or abandonments, roadside shacks, vacant lots, one town after another, all blending into the next with no clear break in-between, and only glimpses of cultivated fields in the far distance suggesting what must once have been some pleasant landscape before the urban sprawl took over. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic varied from moderate to heavy until we were finally through Debre Zewit and onto quieter roads.

Despite a gusting crosswind all morning, reasonable time was made as we were after all dropping more than a 1,000 m into the Rift Valley. Finally, at the ~75 km mark, we turned from a SE heading to SSW; our crosswind became a rear quartering if not outright tailwind. I was sailing along, figuring it’d be an early day’s finish for me, when I got my first flat (first flat out on the road, that is). Fortunately, at about the time I was thinking I really needed to do something constructive as opposed to merely stopping and pumping the tire back up, I spotted ‘the Dutch Train’ taking a breather under a large shade tree.

Perfect place for me, too. With Milan’s help we had the rear wheel off and old tube swapped over for a new one. I don’t think we threatened Pete’s 15 minute time to change a tube. We in no way came close to Omar’s stated ‘10-minute norm’ at a bike shop to do the same thing.

It was a quick half hour after that to reach the campsite; a broad bench of ground behind a village and various market stalls, leading down to Lake Koka, with some large warka trees providing shade. The village kids were already pushing against the perimeter twine; abundant Maribou storks patrolled further out, possibly ready to help eviscerate decrepit cyclists.

The ground itself (on which we pitched our tents) didn’t bear close scrutiny, being a thick blanket of organic material including abundant fish remnants, donkey droppings and I don’t wish to think of what else. The view out over the lake was lovely, however; scattered fishing boats with crews casting their respective nets.

There was plenty of time left in the afternoon to pull the wheel off and examine the tire for a potential source of the earlier flat. Sure enough, a small piece of glass was found by Omar coincident to the pinhole puncture which I’d located on the tube. Both issues then remedied.

Another excellent dinner put out by Chelsea and crew, and another day down.

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