Day 225 Dar Es Salaam Wed 14/03/07
I took the bike out for half hour in the morning to give it a test run, and everything seemed fine, which was a huge relief, as it meant that I could finally get going again. Followed The Routine (see previous travelogue entry).
Day 226 Dar Es Salaam – Chalinze Thursday 15/03/07
Back on the bike at last. It was good to get reacquainted with the road, although I must say, I hadn't missed the feeling of having my nadgers being squashed against a hard bicycle seat. Todays distance was 109 kms, which was basically a retracing of my route from Dar back to the town of Chalinze. An uneventful ride, although the last 30kms felt like hard work, which was due to a combination of climbing back up from sea level and having done no exercise for 10 days. I stopped every now and again to test the tyres, but this was more out of force of habit than anything else, and the tyres are fine. Found a restaurant in Chalinze which did a buffet for 5000 shillings, which was good vale. There was a guest house next door, so I dived in there. Buffet for dinner. Red Dwarf. Bed.
Day 227 Chalinze – Morogoro Friday 16/03/07
I was heading in a westwards direction again today, which is nice, because it meant that my face was in the shade. If i do another cycling trip, I'll have to make sure I go from east to west! Spent the day cycling steadily uphill, but it was nothing I hadn't seen before. There was one ‘Holy Shit' moment, when I cycled over the less dangerous end of a snake that was wriggling across the road. I've got further to cycle tomorrow, so an early night for me.
Day 228 Morogoro – Mikumi Saturday 17/03/07
I initially thought that today was going to be a weird one, but once I'd shaken off the chain smoking midget on a bicycle who was tailing me out of Mikumi, it settled down. The first hour was steadily uphill, but then came an excellent hour of downhill, through the mountains and into a valley. After that, it was a rolling road leading steadily uphill through some mountain range that if i had a decent map I would be able to name. I switched my brain off when it started raining, and at about three, I found a service station complex which also had cheap rooms. Despite today being physically very hard work, I am in a much better frame of mind since leaving Dar Es Salaam, and enjoyed todays cycling.
Day 240 ??? – Tanangozi Monday 19/03/07
I must say, that I was expecting some downhill today, but it just never came. On leaving the complex, a monstrous climb began, which lasted for well over an hour on very steep roads. Still, without the bicycle problems that have plagued me since leaving Sudan, and the general abuse of Ethiopia, it was quite enjoyable all the same. It was hard work of course, but this is why I chose to do a bicycle trip, so that I could push myself physically and see what I am capable of. As I'm quite high up now, and further from the sea, the humidity has all but disappeared, and the heat is noticeably lower. The surroundings are lush and green as there has been quite a lot of rainfall over the last few days, and the main rivers are full and fast flowing. All in all, the landscape is pretty stunning. The day continued ever upwards until I reached the town of Iringa, where I had planned to spend the night. The main road didn't actually go through the town itself though, and before I knew it, I had gone past. Oh well. I continued along the road for another 20 kms, and reached what can only be described as a squalid little settlement. It was two o'clock, the rain clouds were drawing in, and so I decided to stay in the guest house, where I can only assume I was the first mzungu to ever stay there. This town has to have the lowest prices for daily goods in Tanzania, which is saying something, as Tanzania is ridiculously cheap anyway. My legs were aching quite a lot, but I've done a lot of mileage over the last few days. I've now been on the road for eight months – Doesn't time fly when you are having fun!
Day 241 Tanangozi – Sao Hill Tuesday 20/03/07
I had a really good nights sleep, and got off to an earlyish start. The previous evenings rains had reduced the temperature somewhat, and for the first hour, it was actually a bit nippy, which felt good. More rolling roads, although not as severe as yesterday. At one, the rain clouds were getting a bit close, so I stopped off in the settlement of Sao Hill, which mad Tanangozi look positively quaint and charming!
Day 242 Sao Hill – Igawa Wed 21/03/07
I felt pretty strong all day, and this combined with a couple of good downhill sections helped me to cover over 150 kms today. Along the way, I met two Dutch cyclists coming from the opposite direction. These are the first cyclists I've met on the road itself since meeting Leo in Egypt I think. They had started in Holland, and have cycled down the west coast of Africa, and are now making their way northwards up the east side. Oh, to have the cash to do that!! Their site is at www.worldbiker.whereareyou.net. They had a very professional, laminated card too, which is something I will definitely get sorted out for my next trip, which I've all but decided is going to be cycling from Alaska all the way down to the bottom of Chile. Back to this trip though – I stopped the night in what I assume to be the town of Igawa, but my map is not all that good, so it might somewhere else. The guest house is typical, in that it has bucket shower, although I didn't have to get water from a well today, and squat toilet. The main problem with squat toilets, is that the mossies wait until you have your kegs down, and then launch their attacks. Bastards.
Day 243 Igawa – Mbeya Thursday 22/03/07
I don't think the town I was in last night was called Igawa, it may have been Chimala… Oh well, doesn't make THAT much difference to you, avid reader, does it?? Pretty hard work today, as the roads were deceptively and not so deceptively up mountains all day. Reached Mbeya for lunchtime though, and because I've had a few cheap days, I've splurged out on a nice hotel… Ah, a toilet I can sit down on, and not a hole in the ground!! On to Malawi tomorrow.