It seems like we’ve been on the road for many days since Gondar, but its only been 9 days. The terrain has changed as we finally get some hills. I’m starting to see animals that aren’t domesticated such as monkeys and baboons. Trees and vegetation are becoming more and more plentiful. Hopefully, my red blood cells are increasing as we have spent a number of nights at altitude.
A series of days where we climbed quite a bit has altered the race and dwindled the racing group to predominately Raffael, Christian, and I. Others pick their days to race hard. While sprint finishes were common the first month, it is more and more common to have splits in the group.
Various illnesses and a plague of gastro and coughing descended on the camp. It is rare soul who came through untouched. Many have lost multiple days to the truck and as a result EFI status.
Ethiopia has been beautiful countryside. Navigating the hordes of people on the roads has been the primary obstacle or pastime depending on your perspective. Thousands of children each day running to meet you screaming: “you, you, you”, “where are you go?”, “money, money, money”, and an occassional “I love you” or “welcome”.
Stones thrown often and sticks being used to swat riders on the back or arms, items stolen from back pockets and saddle bags, children feigning a jump in front of you as entertainment. This is especially worrisome at 50KM/hr.
The gorge time trial was centerpoint of the section. Only 20K but record time was 1:19 so a stiff effort. I managed a decent 1:28. Sectional rider Paul from Norway did 1:17 to win the day.
We also crossed the highest point in the tour. In a departure from racing we all stopped and took some pics at the top as a group.
The ride into Addis was one of the better days. The race was only to lunch, so it was on from the start and fast. After lunch, relax in the shade than an easy ride, complete with layered juice stop, to a meeting point for a convoy downhill into the city. The screeching of brakes drowned out the sound of trucks as we had a melllow descent as a group to rest in the city.
My first time stepping on a scale since the start of tour revealed 10 pounds lost already, so nearly all my time in Addis Ababa was directed toward eating, sleeping, or being a layabout.