Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rookie Rider 303 - Nooit

Day Four on the bike - it's got to get easier.

  • Plot a 45km route via Google Earth, load on GPS and go
  • Leave early to get back early.
  • Follow route until impassable rock garden
  • Turnaround and follow arbitrary forestry trail route which winds back to main route
  • Get whipped by branches and pass ox wagon on tight corner
  • Ride a new rock garden and feel pleased
  • Lose mouthpiece switch and get hosed with water every time you lean over

  • Keep riding and begin to enjoy the route
  • use the Malagasy word for road to avoid pedestrian detours
  • Use the Malagasy word for bridge to ensure easy river crossings
  • Use bridge to find that route immediately crosses rice paddy on a narrow walkway with a steep embankment on the other side
  • Push bike with a little Malagasy help up embankment and bash knee on foot pedal

  • Spend ten minutes discussing route options with map and Malagasy's in their Sunday finest - interesting language combinations
  • Find out that the route we have chosen is "bonne"
  • Set off with renewed vigour after the lung busting push
  • Ride some increasingly technical sections
  • Reach stream with boulders and watch @onegiantride manoeuver across
  • Build own bridge with logs and let @onegiantride rinse and repeat then follow up with the lattice work of roots 200m further on
  • Rest for lunch

So far so good. 
BOOM - Madagascar hits you with the big guns

  • Track becomes narrow steep path of 30m. Study path hoping it will dissolve into something flatter
  • Always have money handy. Three Malagasy's arrive and lend muscle - five people to manhandle bikes up path and a dishing out of a large tip
  • Sweat profusely and pant heavily with effort then settle heart rate to carry onand wonder what's next.
  • Begin steep downhill
  • Reach massive boulder alley but generously let @onegiantride takes both bikes through the sneak
  • Start all over on a downhill wind through felled trees until log blocks path. One mini Malagasy shifts massive log to allow passage.
  • Settle into the downhill again.
  • Reach village to find a deep water canal cut across path with mud piled up as a bank.
  • Watch with interest as @onegiantride plants front wheel in canal. Help lift wheel out.
  • Fill canal with boulders and repeat
  • Remove boulders

Continue following route.
  • Reach split in path and the one less travelled is the pink line. Follow pink line
  • Follow sublime mountain bike single track. Motorbike - not so sublime.
  • Pass through burning grass on single track and don't look left or right at the drop offs
  • Power up rutted single track and hope for the best - bounce a lot.
  • Stop at top to catch breath and breathe deeply

  • Follow pink line down steep hill on single track.
  • Avoid putting front wheel into ruts and crawl down in 1st gear.
  • Reach wooden bridge and allow @onegiantride to have the honours again.
  • Park bike on rice paddy wall and look at opposite hill in consternation.

  • Help @onegiantride angle bike properly by heaving on ear wheel.
  • Watch as he surges supposedly in control up scalloped single track then stop.
  • See him have a long conversation with local then walk over the ridge and disappear
  • Wait at bottom.
  • Wait.
  • Wait.
  • Stroll across rice paddies to opposite embankment and watch bemusedly as children run screaming

  • @onegiantride reappears with an army
  • Army then proceeds to help get bikes over choke spot in single track.
  • Army and self watch @onegiantride bundu bash up hill into forest and onto road.
  • Lead army down the hill and up the other side. Army informs us that there is a bad spot ahead.
  • A thought occurs in the midst of heat, thirst and fatigue from pushing....Wasn't this a bad spot we just crossed?
  • Proceed to ride narrow rutted track. Rephrase: walk, rev and slide. Army regular tries to help by also holding handle bars.
  • Get over saddle and take direct route down. Put bike on ground halfway and wait for @onegiantride.
  • A four foot embankment lies in wait followed by dry rice paddy field with clods larger than a football, a stream and another deep rut out
  • Look at the obstacle course with interest and know its all out of one's league. In fact, the last fours hours have been squarely out the
  • mini league in which you play
  • Army lowers bikes over embankment and @onegiantride rides the white steed across the clods over the river and up the other side and walks nonchalantly back. Crowds watch in awe.
  • Realise your only claim to fame is the fact you have a camera and are recording the events
  • Repeat with big blue bike.
  • Climb back on but get stuck in ruts again.
  • Get onegiantride to take bike to top and rest from the walk.
  • Play to the massive crowd who have never seen anything like this.
  • Take photos of army then head to village for refreshments.
  • Only empty beer bottles
  • Say goodbye to crowds and leave.
  • Take wrong route out of town
  • Return
  • Wave goodbye again
  • Ride blessedly good road out using all the power available for some of the climbs.
  • Reach the top of the ridge and ride for the backpackers in Antoetre.
  • Eight hours to scout 56km

  • Order Tea, Coke and water.
  • Lunch comprises baguette and sardines
  • Head home on splendid dirt road
Round trip 98km
Ten hours

Snotklap from Madagascar mountains but the people prevailed.

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