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Pretty Good Morning

Stage 33: Yabelo to Bush Camp

Since we had a 300-350 m climb today which was going to have to be done +90 km into the days ride, we started off this morning a little before sunrise; once out of Yabelo (which didn’t take more than a few moments), the road became very good tarmac which fortunately continued through the day. That and very little traffic made it a particularly good cycling day.

I think this may have been the nicest morning yet; the temperature just right for the first hour or so, and the bush showing lots of shadows. The birds were active as well, although I’m totally unable to identify any of them from their calls alone. But definitely we saw rollers, plovers, iridescent starlings, weavers, lots of little brown jobs, and a ground hornbill in the distance. And camels!

With Alice, Rachel and Martha accompanying, we made good progress at least until the sun warmed up enough at around 09:00 to generate some strong crosswinds; those definitely took the edge off the morning. Martha also suffered a minor setback during a nature stop, managing to impale her ear lobe on an acacia thorn. Ouch.

At one point or another, we lost Rachel and Martha; on one of the rolling hills perhaps, which were many today, or during a bit of crosswind. I only realized this when up on my left side rode Michiel, filming Alice and myself, and offering a running commentary on viewing the oldest and the youngest riders on the tour.

Lunch stop made in good time; however, I’m thinking that I’ll have to cut back on these fuel breaks a little. Getting going again after throwing down that much food, and the legs have tightened up, is very slow and I’m usually very sluggish ... also it seems that after virtually all our lunch breaks (which generally occur in the 10:00 - 10:45 time frame), the temperature has jumped 10° and the winds have kicked up significantly.

Today was no exception. Fortunately, we had about a 15-20 km run before the major climb of the day, so some time to work out the post-lunch lethargy. Rachel had rejoined at lunch so the three of us continued together, at least until that climb got serious; at which point, Alice and then Rachel dropped me like the old geezer I am. But we all made it up and over eventually. The hilltop was akin to an alpine meadow (if one squinted a little and used some imagination). A long saddle or valley between adjoining hills, noticeably cooler air, blowing cross to headwinds, and grazing sheep. Across and partway down the other side at at a good clip, we took a break at the coke stop in village of Mega, where we found about a dozen of our fellow cyclists doing the same.

The last 30 km mostly downhill into cross- to front-quartering winds. The only thing noteworthy was having the lunch truck pass us at one point, but then abruptly pull over a few hundred metres in front. I was wondering why? ... and at the same time wondering why a completely naked man was standing in the left roadside. I see Özgur jump out of truck and run toward us (and the naked man). I figure: nothing good will come out of this, so I’ll just put my head down and keep going. Later, Özgur insists he was running back down the road to have a closer look at some solar panels on the right hand roadside; he only noticed naked man standing in road after I’d pointed him out. Right, Özgur.

Reasonably good bush camp tonight; grilled chicken over charcoal. Beautiful sunset against the hills to the west. All good. This our last night in Ethiopia.

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