A delightful little lake outside a little town called Njombe
I am blogging to you from a delightful little lake outside a little town called Njombe. I’m not supposed to be here. We should still be up at 2800 plus meters at the Kipengere National Park but we were forced to make a strategic withdrawal from the Kitulo Plateau, beaten by the road and the mountain.
The sharp shale shards that made up the road surface took their toll on the vehicles with 4 punctures, 1 shredded tyre, 1 busted rim and a busted tow hitch on one of the trailers on the drive in.
We tried to fix the punctures in camp but bust the tubeless repair tool in the process. At 07.00 the next morning, the Dairy Farm pointed us to a Mr Fix It guy down the road and we set off wrapped up with 4 layers but still bitterly cold. 2800 m up is a stupid place for a dairy farm.
One of the Land Rovers punctured yet again on the way to Mr Fix It. We were only able to get back on the crappy road again well after 10 o’clock, with 98 km ride and 2500 m of climb in front of us. Renier and John went ahead in the Patrol to the next little town to look for more tyre plugs, for just in case, leaving us with just the 2 support vehicles.
By lunchtime we’d only knocked off 38 km. The hills were too steep and my legs were broken from the day before and I ended up walking half of them. Our night stop, Igumbilo Farm, just 60 km away but back up at 2800 meters, was starting to look impossible.
We couldn’t be riding in the dark again so we cobbled together a Plan B. We’d send all 3 support vehicles ahead to the night stop, to off load before coming back with the bike trailer to find the riders on the road. Alas. Plan B didn’t work too good.
Igumbilo Farm up at 2800 meters is impossibly remote, without cellphone signal and a dreadful access road and the vehicles only got there as it was getting dark.
Meanwhile back on the road, the cyclists lost their shape and their legs and we splintered into 2 groups. The B Team, consisting of 7 riders, stopped riding at 5 o’clock, still 30 km short of our night stop. We took refuge in a road side pub full of hookers, loud music and cold beers to await uplift. Ahead of us Team A had decided to try and push on to the stop. Silly Team A.
After 3 beers, Team B moved to Plan C. The support vehicles had only just found the night stop and it would be hours before the vehicle would be able to uplift us. So we hired a 1.5 ton truck and a taxi to ferry us up to the farm. Alastair and I went in the truck with the bikes. It started getting bitterly cold but luckily our truck’s engine was overheating so we were warm like toast inside.
Somehow we managed to find Team A on the side of the road and in the dark just 18 km short of the farm. Kudos to them for a huge ride.
The last vehicle with the bikes arrived at Igumbilo Farm after 9,utterly knackered and exhausted. Thankfully we didn’t have to set up camp as David and Joyce Moyers has opened up their home to us and we arrived to a roaring fire and hot showers.
We had a quick reset. Our next leg to Kipengere National Park involving 109 km of bad roads and 2000 m of climb clearly wasn’t going to happen, not without dead cyclists and dead support vehicles. With David’s help, we plotted Plan D involving a new route down to Njombe and decent roads. I say down, but we still climbed 1200 meters getting there.
All’s well that ends well. Ryan and Bill went ahead to find us a camp site next to a delightful dam. They were also able to get the tow hitch on the trailer fixed. A delicious dinner around the campfire has worked wonders and we’re good to go for our last 140 km to our next rest day at the Farm House at Kisolanza. Thankfully, not too many hills involved apparently. Wish us luck. And please support us by
going to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their
Ecocash merchant number 139149.
In closing, I need to acknowledge Jenny’s efforts to make sure the Dick of the Day necklace was kept in the family by forgetting her toothbrush at Igumbilo Farm. Joyce and David drove 30 km down the hill to return it to her.
The next blog will be from Kisolanza outside Iringa. Until then survive, enjoy and pedal if you can. Eric Chicken Legs de Jong