95km. Matema Parking Lot Camp to Random Farm Camp.
Now that we have crossed in to Christian territory, our days of waking up to the morning prayer call are officially over and its back to the biological clock. It also marks the end of not worrying about petty crime (penalties under sharia law seem to be quite effective in keeping instances of petty crime at bay).
Camp this morning looked like a bit of a war zone. Many people had warned that Ethiopia marks the beginning of the widespread gastrointestinal illnesses, and they were right. There were a few cases before this, but it is now starting to hit a much larger group. Miraculously, I have been spared so far, despite my culinary adventure last night.
The hills started today. Some nice rollers. Though the road is amenable to group riding, many riders started out on their own this morning. Myself included. Maybe everyone got used to going alone when we did the off-road stages. Or maybe the thought of groups on hills was intimidating. Or maybe we just needed a bit of solitude after almost a month of living together around the clock.
I don't mind riding alone. In fact, I often quite enjoy it. But, when Jorg and a local rider came by, I hopped along for the ride (I have a feeling that there will be plenty of opportunities to ride alone over the coming months, whether I want to or not). Eventually, a few of the other racers joined and we eventually got a bit of a group going. I got dropped on the last hill (12km), but I think that I had the sixth fastest time for the day, which I was pretty happy about (even if it is because some of the others are very sick). Oh, and I actually used all of the gears on my bike today, which gives me some sense of satisfaction for having opted for maximal flexibility.
Besides being notably more hilly, the route was much more populated than what we experienced in the Sudan. And, mostly just kids. Kids everywhere on the side of the road. Holding a hand out to wave or say hello. Most of them screaming 'where are you go?' or 'YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU'. As a side note, one of the riders who speaks the language asked a girl why she says 'you' and the girl said it was because she heard someone else say it. Awesome. You wouldn't believe how many kids scream this. Some kids thought the idea of running in front of a speeding bike was funny. That part was not awesome.
Our campsite would be perfect, if it weren't for the fact that it is situated on a cattle farm. Don't get me wrong, I love cows (especially with a bit of heinz 57), but I could do without the two guys tossing hay right up wind from us.
A few resourceful kids figured out that they could make some money selling us cokes and beer at the camp (saving us from having to descend and the re-ascend a 12km hill to get it ourselves. Business was booming for several hours. I guess that it is good for some local family but, I'm wondering, should we feel bad about buying beer from a 4-year old?
Peter-the-plumber had a rough day. I saw him barfing in the morning and knew that he would still ride. He was totally smashed when he came in to camp this afternoon. That is one tough guy. There are some at camp who think he is foolish. And there are many of us who think he is an inspiration. No limits. I hope that he sleeps well and recovers some tonight as I know there will be no stopping him from getting on that bike tomorrow.
A solo bike tourist from New Zealand rolled into camp while we were hanging out in the afternoon. He is going in the other direction and it has been 10 months since he left Capetown. His final destination is Denmark, which puts him at about half way. Kind of made me feel like a lightweight for doing a supported ride. But a happy lightweight. I think that four months will be enough for me.
Tonight, the donkey eee-awes have been replaced by moooooooos. And a few snores. Seven consecutive riding days is taking a toll on people.
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