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SEPTEMBER, 2009

 If you are going through hell, keep going (WINSTON CHURCHILL)



Hi there everyone, Ian here. I would like to start by appologising for the size of this blog. A lot has happened in the past week or so. Due to the shear quantity of incedients over the past week I am going to break it down into days and bullet points.


Day 1


What broke today?

  • The stove refused to work

  • I started the day with a puncture and finished the day with another


What happened today?

  • We left Kedougou and started our journey towards Labe heading in the direction of Dindifellow.

  • We soon encountered puddles and streams blocking our route. These puddles/streams where as deep as chest hieght and stretched upto 100m. This forced us to carry our equipment and bikes individually above our head. Taking upto an hour to cross each puddle/stream.

  • We slept at a locals house because we failed to make it to Dindifellow which we had been told was a 2 hour ride from Kedougou.


Day 2


What broke today?

  • Alans front pannier rack snapped for the first time and began there demise

  • The Solar panel stopped working


What happened today?

  • Left the locals house and made it to Dindifellow through more deep puddles. Crossed a total of 7 deep puddles/streams over the 2 days.

  • At Dindifellow we met Kay from the Peace Corps and she showed us to see the staggering waterfalls where we had a swim. These waterfalls where the reason behind our detour to this unique route and they certainly where stunning. But where they worth all the problems to follow, I am not so sure.

  • Asked locals for directions to Labe and where told it was impossible with bikes like ours. We refused to believe this and got directions and even a guide to the closest town. We certainly are stubben sometimes.

  • We began our journey with the ascent of a steep rocky foot path certainly not designed for bikes like ours. We soon realised we wouldnt make it to the top of the mountain this day and advised our guide to continue. After an hour our guide returned after leaving his gear near the top of the mountain. We agreed to let him help as we were making little progress and already felt extemely fatigued. Our guide carried the bike whilst Alan and I carried the equipment and we did many trips up and down the mountain to get all our equipment to the top. By this point we were all nakerd and it was dark so our generous guide kindly offered us a place to stay the night.


Day 3


What broke today?

  • Alans front pannier racks completely collapsed, rendering them useless

  • Another puncture

  • Stove continued to play up


What happened today?

  • Crossed the Guinea Border but the border was so remote that there was no guard to stamp our passports. We where told by the locals that we could get our passports stamped in Mali-ville, the closest large town.

  • The roards continued to be tough, rocky, hilly and extemely challenging.

  • When Alans front pannier racks were completely destroyed we were forced to transfer all his gear onto my bike and his back panniers.

  • We spent the night sleeping in a field of cows and during the night they rummaged around our tents. To scare them away I thought it would be a good idea to clap. This scared the living daylights out of the poor things and they fled almost trampling Alans tent as they ran.


Day 4


What broke today?

  • Stove continues to play up and completely fails forcing us to eat a meal of half cooked rice and tomoatos.


What happened today?

  • Today we hoped we would reach Mali-ville but the road was to tough and we failed miserably.

  • Our food supplies where begining to run low. We had planned for 4 days travelling between Kedougou and Labe and we werent even at the halfway point of Mali-ville. This wouldnt normally be a problem except we had no local curreny to buy knew food and had to begin seriously rationing our food supplies.


Day 5


What broke today?

  • My front pannier racks broke twice and needed reapiring

  • When my rack breaks for the second time it snaps my speedo sensor clean off

  • My sprocket rachet fails

  • Stove continues to play up but is fixed after we completely dismantle it and clean everything

  • Camera flash explodes whilst taking a picture and never works again


What happened today?

  • Food supplies are extremely low and the roads continue to be devastingly hard to ride or even push the bikes on.

  • We reach Mali-ville but no guards are around to sort out our documents and the locals tell us to try again in Labe.

  • After passing through Mail my sprocket rachet fails and we stop to fix it. Whilst dismantling the spocket the rachet miraculously starts working again and after re-assembling the sprocket we discover half a mile down the road that its not working again. We fear this is unfixable and would require a new one sent out from England to continue. We stop for the night with another local and hope to call the Coventry Cycle Centre in the morning for advice.


Day 6


What broke today?

  • Fixed speedo and sprocket rachet

  • Alans gears began to play up, jumping during hills and ending up with the cable sheaf breaking.

  • Alans rear pannier continually falls off and needs fixing

  • My front pannier regularly falls off because my repair is not good enough


What happened today?

  • In the morning we called the bike shop and Chris advises us to clean the rachet with petrol as it may just be dirty. Thankfully after cleaning and re-lubricating it begins to work again, what a relief.

  • We completely run out of food after our evening meal leaving us with just chocolate spread for tomorrow.

  • Our bodys and minds are unbelievably tired from the past 6 days travelling and lack of sufficient food.

  • We fail to make Labe and only reach just over half way feeling devasted to not be closer. We dread the thought of another days riding with no food except chocloate spread.

Day 7


What broke today?

  • My rear wheel rim cracked and cannot be fixed.


What happened today?

  • We get an early start after a horrible nights sleep and feeling dejected, tired and generally fatigued we had breakfast of chocolate spread, nice.

  • Half way to Labe I smashed into a massive pot hole whilst not concentrating, proberbly because of fatigue. The impact smashes 4-5 cracks into my rear wheel, 1 very large crack and my rear wheel is completely ruined. This cannot be fixed and we just hope we can find a new rim in Labe. I have to continue the rest of the trip as slowly as possible avoiding every hole and hoping the wheel doesnt completely collapse.

  • We make it to Labe and head straight for the bank for money then a restaurant for food to eat as much as possible.

  • After eating we make it to the Peace Corps house and crash for the night.


Day 8


What broke today?

  • We discover some small cracks in Alans rear wheel.


What happened today?

  • There was a protest on and the whole town was closed meaning we could do nothing useful and upon returning to the Peace Corps house we find out we can no longer stay as there is nobody from the Peace Corps staying in the house. We find the cheapest place in town to stay and after settling in head to a local pub for some refreshments.


Conlcusion


I thought I should call this part a conclusion as this felt like I was writing as essay. Im sorry if it reads that way and is uninteresting but I felt it was the best way to say what has happened. This part of the journey from Kedougou to Labe has been the toughest most physical challenge we have had yet. YES even harder than getting lost in the desert although it didnt have the same mental challenge of worrying about our safety, it certainly was more physically demanding. I cannot explain how hard the roads where to ride on or how tough the hills became because the roads where un-rideable. I also cannot explain how tired we felt all day everyday and how the serious lack of sufficient food impeded our abilitys to cycle. My body and mind have never felt as tired as they did the last day before we reached Labe. The thought of another days cycling with no food was crushing to our spirits but we somehow kept our drive to finish what we had started.  The continual failures of our equipment just added to the frustrations of the situation we had found ourselves in.  But we made it through this toughest of times and feel relieved to have completed such a challenging part of our journey.  I am certainly proud of what we have both achieved over the past week and the title of this blog is very fitting for the situation we were in.  People talked a lot about high and lows before we left and I honestly dont feel like we have to many lows and I wouldnt call the past week a low either.  Although it was an seemingly enless and tough task we were traveling through some of the most stunning scenery, Guinea is a beautiful country and I have so many amazing memories of this leg of EyeOnAfrica.  The waterfall at Dindifellow was stunning, the endless forest we travelled through looked amazing from the hills above and the generous people who helped us along the way with advice, directions and places to stay were amazingly kind.



To end I would like to say how glad I am it is all over but I am also very glad to have experience such a task.



posted by   September 25, 2009 6:26 PM  EyeOnAfrica  comments (7)



 




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