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

Pineapple Stop

The morning after our epic rafting trip, I woke up feeling refreshed by the lingering thrill of a new experience. Plus, it was finally the day we would cycle into Nairobi! One of only a few places in Africa I have visited before and know something about! We faced a mentally challenging day of riding- 70k of climbing, followed by a 30k group convoy into the city outskirts, followed by another 40k of hills circumventing the worst city traffic to get to camp. I rode with German Reuben and Irish Paddy most of the day, which means I panted like a disabled dog trying to hang on to the pace while they chatted effortlessly. This annoys me to no end. We made good time on busy, hilly roads, and part of the ride was along a highway that felt vaguely like the Long Island Expressway. Aunt Ter and Megan, I kept looking for your car to pass and had to remind myself I am in Kenya not on the way to the beach!

At one particularly grinding point in the morning, Reuben suddenly yelled “pineapple stop, pull over.”. We encountered a local farmer sitting on the highway selling whole pineapples, which he sliced and happily sold to three dirty, salivating cyclists for a few cents. I think it was the best pineapple I’ve ever tasted, and certainly the only pineapple I’ve ever eaten on the side of a Kenyan highway in the middle of a bike ride. Once we digested our tasty tropical fruit, the convoy began. It was stressful- roads were bad and traffic was horrendous. Fortunately we only deal with these situations entering the big cities, and we just have to get through it.

At the end of the convoy we were hot, mentally drained and still faced a few hours of significant riding. We rode past embassy row and several beautiful suburbs of Nairobi. It was very lush, and most houses were hidden behind layers of gates, barbed wire and security. The expat culture here fascinates me- it seems worldly, luxurious and stimulating, but constantly behind a gate or a car. I’m not sure that I could make that trade-off. After a coke and even a milkshake and brownie stop, we realized we were indeed back in some semblance of civilization, so we ordered another round of milkshakes. Milk may have been a bad choice.

I arrived in camp late in the afternoon, drained but happy with my effort. I’ve learned on this trip that life should not be measured by performance or results, but rather by an honest assessment of personal effort. We were staying at the Indaba campsite, which is the local company that the TDA subcontracts to provide our massive support vehicles. We have four full-time Indaba staffers and they are all total characters. Most are Kenyan or South African, and are driven by an insatiable wanderlust to see, breathe and experience every inch of the world. As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, not all those who wander are lost. In my case on my daily bike ride, I’m usually actually just lost 🙂

I had a wonderful rest day at our campsite in Nairobi’s suburb of Karen. Karen is named after Karen Blixen, best known as portrayed by Meryl Streep in the movie “Out of Africa.”. Its one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend it for your Netflix queue. In addition to enjoying the relaxed, expat vibe in Karen, I fed giraffes at a giraffe sanctuary, taught South Africans and Brits the timeless game of flipcup and ran 6k to a mall with a few of the boys. Ironman training started this week, so bike rides are now being supplemented by runs. Fortunately, I always have a running partner as Dana is also training for an Ironman, and everyone else is just crazy and will come along for fun. I think I may have also experienced culture shock being in a mall again, and just wandered around the aisles in awe for awhile. We have been in an extremely remote section of Kenya for the past two weeks, so the contrast of infrastructure and civilization has been somewhat overwhelming.

There is an interesting vibe on the Tour d’Afrique right now- change is definitely in the air. We have new riders participating, some old riders leaving, new Indaba staffers, a new hemisphere and a fundamentally different half of Africa to explore. I have always been intimidated by change, but inspired by its singular ability to instigate profound personal growth. Bring on the change…starting with the new country of Tanzania tomorrow!

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