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

When it Rains it Pours

The road south of Addis began innocently enough…for the first time in weeks, we enjoyed flat, fast rides along shady roads lined with farms and beautiful lakes. Despite a pending Ironman triathlon to train for in July, I swore off swimming in African lakes before the trip started, but other riders told me the waters were refreshing and lovely. Instead, I enjoyed the water views from my tent, and luxuries such as fresh fish, bbq chicken, fried eggs, avocado and mango in the Tour d’Afrique kitchen. On the third day of riding, I should have known trouble was brewing when I saw a series of massive hills in the distance!

I started the afternoon by getting separated from my riding group on the hills, and ended up biking along in blissful solitude for several tens of kilometers. Even the rambunctious children had smiles and waves for me the whole way. Suddenly, I realized I was very alone with noone in sight, and had no idea how far I had gone since the lunch checkpoint. As an aside, lots of stuff breaks due to the wear and tear of this trip, including my two bike computers. I proceeded to freak myself out that I had taken a wrong turn and was lost somewhere in the wilds of Ethiopia. Meanwhile, I was still on the main road, but the mind can play tricks on you when you’re tired and thirsty. After several more kilometers I decided to just sit down on the side of the road and wait for an irate tour director to come pick me up. I sat for about twenty minutes in the shade, with twenty or so confused Ethiopians surrounding me, not quite sure what to make of me. They were hilarious and kept flagging down buses asking what to do with the weird white girl on the bike. Finally, another rider (my friend Jason) appeared on the horizon, and I realized I was on the right track or we were both derailed. I biked with him over the crest of the next hill…and there was the campsite. With a sheepish grin, I realized I had just sat on the side of the road “lost”…less than 1k from camp. This is Africa…or perhaps, this is just Erin 🙂

That night, we fell asleep to a delightfully soothing and refreshing sprinkle tapping the tarps of our rain flies. By 2am, the delightful shower had turned into a full-on downpour and thunderstorm. I thought, it will stop by morning. At 3am, it was raining harder. At 4am, I didn’t even want to get out of the tent to go to the bathroom. At 5am, I still stupidly held out hope. At 6am, I reluctantly searched for my inadequate rain gear and realized we would be experiencing wet tents, clothes and bikes well before the expected deluge in Tanzania in a few months time. I slapped a grin on my face, and reminded myself that this was part of the deal. Several other riders did not stay dry in their tents and the mood at camp was interesting in the morning. I was determined to make the best of it, and powered my a delicious breakfast of muesli, hopped on my soaking wet bike with a huge grin. I rode with my Irish biking bud Paddy in the morning and we were just covered in mud, sweat, water and smiles.

About 10k into the ride, it quickly became clear that two other things were wrong. 1. My stomach wasn’t working and 2. my brakes weren’t working on wet roads. Both situations quickly deteriorated, and I barely made it to lunch intact. My German biking bud Reuben biked with my sorry, sick self the entire way to lunch, proclaiming that “noone leaves the captain behind,” and chasing away the little kids with rocks and yells. When I rolled into camp sick as a dog on the truck, it was still raining and I managed to snap one of my tent poles. oh man, what a day. Northern Kenya is up next and can’t be as painful as this right?!!! Bring on the lava rocks!

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3 Responses to “When it Rains it Pours”

  1. Erin, I hope you are feeling better. It didn’t sound like much fun at all but those days will pass. I sent your mom some pictures that James and Diane had sent us from their trip to Africa. I never had a desire to ever visit Africa until I saw the pictures. The pyramids and Nile are beautiful and something I would love to see. The pictures from the top of Mt Kili were also spectacular. What an experience. A little news from home. Kim and Sean were here in ABQ for a baby shower 2 weeks ago. She looks great and we had fun with them. RIght now, Aunt Terri, Megan, Caitlin and Diane are in FLorida because her friends are having another shower for her down there. I was unable to go but Uncle Jimi and I are going to go down there for a week in early April. Uncle Jimi has a conference in Orlando and I decided to join him. Sean and I are going to paint Leah’s room and put the furniture together. Should be a great mother-son bonding experience. I spoke to Nanny earlier this week and she is doing well. I will try and keep you up on family news each time I write. Love you, take care and be safe.

  2. You are certifiable. Get well and keep spinning.

  3. Bless your heart! Even tho camp was just over the hill, when you don’t KNOW that, it can be scary! I love the camaraderie of the group. I’m PROUD of you, Captain Erin!


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