Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

A little bit of fun!

The Tour d’Afrique arrived in Gondar, Ethiopia two days ago, for what was scheduled to be a normal rest day. Of course, nothing is normal or scheduled in Africa. Unbeknownst to us, as we were biking Ethiopia’s huge hills the brakes failed on the truck carrying all of our gear, food, water, medical supplies and about ten sick riders on a winding road surrounded by steep cliffs. The truck’s driver, Ferdie, kept his cool and was miraculously able to stop a heavy truck driving at full speed without brakes by using the gearing. He literally saved people’s lives and we are all in awe of his performance under pressure. The truck is busted, so the riders have been holed up here for an extra day while our crew works tirelessly to formulate a Plan B to keep the expedition going. Yesterday I encountered our assistant tour director covered from head to toe in black soot. She just laughed and said, “don’t ask.”

After a long day of fixing our battered bodies and gear (I achieved this by eating no fewer than five Snickers bars), the whole gang headed to the local brewery, which provided free beer all night. Needless to say, everyone finally let loose and had some much-needed fun! Rest, sleep and fun are restorative and more necessary than even butt creme on this trip. Ethiopia has been a stark contrast to Egypt and Sudan. We are surrounded by people all the time, the economy is principally agrarian and Orthodox Christianity is pervasive. It can be somewhat frustrating here – communication is tough and the locals simply do not operate at my Manhattan-influenced pace. The internet café is pumping Black Eyed Peas music right now, so we’re definitely seeing some confluence of Western and local cultures. Oh yeah, and we can finally obtain beer and not wake up to the Muslim call to prayer every morning 🙂 I hope to upload photos eventually, but the connections here are just too slow.

Tomorrow we will spend Valentine’s Day biking who knows how many kilometers toward Bahir Dar, a highland, lakeside destination in Northern Ethiopia. I decided I needed to designate one of the other riders as my “Valentine,” and after some stiff competition, have chosen Rainer, a 70-year-old German machine who frequently beats me to the finish line. I asked him to be my Valentine, and he responded that he associates Valentine’s Day with his childhood home getting bombed and destroyed during World War Two. I’m pretty sure this means I got dissed. Looks like my bike will have to be my only Valentine tomorrow 🙂

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7 Responses to “A little bit of fun!”

  1. I love reading your blog! You are INDEED an intrepid warrior. Everyone reading your adventures would agree. Glad you are able to have a bit of rest and relaxation. (Dave’s Mom)

  2. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY ER, KEEP SMILING!!!
    WE MISS YOU
    LOVE MOM, DAD, KEV, COL AND CARA

  3. WOW. This sounds like a life-changing week. So impressed by your positivity and optimism in the face of these awe-inspiring challenges. Have been watching the Olympics, and those guys have NOTHING on you. I am going to eat a Snickers now in solidarity. Much love from New York!

  4. Awesome work!!! I am dragging you on an off-road ride when you get back, and you’ll already be a total pro! And I guess this provides new-found motivation to stay OUT of the truck (can’t believe your mom read that and could write such a calm response – hats off to Mrs. Sprague too!) Now just be sure to stay hydrated, keep your electrolytes up, and remember that Snickers don’t have many vitamins or minerals:-) Oh, lol, and your valentine’s story so reminds me of what a good sport biking is for old age, you are going to be a total cycling machine at 80. I met this seventy-year old guy who every year goes by himself and spends three or four months biking alone around Mongolia, literally from stream to stream so he can fish for his dinner each night. Now that’s what I call retirement….

    Keep up the great work and enjoy Ethiopia!

    oh, and p.s., six months ago, my b.f. and I owned two lousy commuting bikes. Now between the two of us, we own six(!) bikes, and I’m holding you personally responsible for us acquiring them. Love ’em, love ’em to death, I was thinking, hm… maybe this is how people end up with such big families (back to my theme of thinking of bikes as my children, ughhh, this is a real sign of the extent to which cycling is slowly replacing dissertation’s place in life.) But i guess as painful as it was to spend hour after hour learning about bikes and on ebay searching for good deals, it can’t quite compare to childbearing:-) Maybe we’ll use the bikes as a permanent substitute!

  5. You are simply amazing. Stay safe, get healthy, keep riding – I love following your adventures and wonderful writing –
    Caroline

  6. Clearly Rainer does not know what he is missing. You are my Valentine. Because I miss your snooze button. xoxo

  7. Keep on biking!! You are an inspiration to us all. Love reading your updates. Continue to have FUN and be safe. Thinking of you daily.
    Love,
    Aunt Mary Ann


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