Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rift Valley Odyssey - Day Two

Considering the big day previous, the night's sleep was once again quite broken.  But up anyway at 5.45 for breakfast, some bike tinkering and a seven o'clock start on the second day of the RVO.  The day started off pretty flat as we took the road around the lake for about fifteen kilometres before turning left and the climbing started in earnest.  There was the odd flat section & short downhill respite, but generally it was solid climbing - over 700 m to 2700 m in about seventeen kilometres.  It was all ridable apart from one short section near the top that was too steep & technical.  But it sure was hard work with the sun beating down.  AD seemed to find some legs from somewhere and rode like a champion.

The feed station at 2700 m was welcome and we rested there a little.  The food was perhaps a little too good as it would seemed I ate too much as something very odd happened as we started down the monster downhill that we had very much earned.  It may have also been a very common reaction to the anti-malarial tablets I had been taking - but as the descent opened up & I bumped around a bit more, I started to feel decidedly nauseous and queasy.

For the first time in more years than I can remember, I was vomiting; once that was over we set off again.  Not to last long however, as as I waited for Bobby (he was a little hesitant of excessive speed - not surprising as the mechanics could do nothing for his air bubble-ridden rear brakes overnight) I had another good effort at reintroducing my food to daylight again.  As we had over 760 m to drop in sixteen kilometres, I was at this stage beginning to wonder how I was going to get down such a fantastic downhill (i.e. quite bumpy & fun) when I couldn't hold my stomach down.  But a combination of not having much left in my stomach, taking smoother lines & taking it easy waiting for Bobby (Sean & AD blasted on ahead in my hour of need, the cheek) and determination saw me to the bottom of the rather fantastic downhill no more the worse for wear.

It was still pretty warm & the lack of food intake (what energy I had consumed was mostly no longer with me either) made any climbs a little more challenging than they would have otherwise been.  At the final feed station I managed a couple of slices of apple and a gel - enough it turned out to get me through the last fifty kilometres of what turned out to be one of the tougher days on the bike I can remember (not due to the terrain, due to the food issue).  Most of the rest of the way was fairly easy valley floor through Hells Gate on gravel road, but there was one nasty shock at the end - a steep 250 m climb to overlook the lake beside which we were camped.  After all of the rest of the day, it was pretty unrelenting - but we had to make it to the top as big storm clouds were rolling in.

Just as we did make it to the top, the storm broke and what would have been a fairly difficult start to the downhill (very deep & loose gravel) just became more unpleasant as we got absolutely soaked dropping 330 m to the road.  It was fun enough after a kilometre or so, and then all the rain turned the hillside in to a myriad of streams that we followed down.  As we neared the field at the bottom all those streams had combined into an instant raging torrent that we had to cross - as the motorbikes were behind us, we let them go first to gauge the strength & depth of it.  It definitely wasn't ridable, but it looked OK to walk.  An incredibly strong current didn't quite wash us over a newly formed waterfall, but did soak us to above our knees and completely fill our socks & shoes with stones & silt.  After stopping briefly to reinflate Bobby's rear tyre (his tubeless worked as it should on the climb) we made it back to camp, food (of which I forced myself to eat a vegetarian pizza) and warm-enough showers before the heavens opened again.

With the stomach issues and that nasty last climb, this was definitely the hardest of the three days for me - as much climbing as the first day, but in twenty or so less kilometres distance and noticeably warmer.  For the first time in days, I slept rather well (considering I was camping) that night.

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