Down and on the south rim of Blue Nile Gorge

Beyond the Saddle ....Cairo to Cape Town
Howard Fairbank
Sun 18 Feb 2007 17:00
Position;10:01.209N 38:14.951E

At the top of southern rim of the Blue Nile Gorge.....about 500m from where
the ascent road hits the rim and flattens into the little village on the

Quite an eventful time since my last blog entry.....

Had our first rain since Cairo last night....! Thunder and lightning.....I
think lots more of this type of weather to come as we head south....! More
about this in the next newsletter

So the ride today......65 km...only... 17km of top of the rim undulating
hills from the campsite to the top of the gorge, a few adjustments for the
descent, and the road surface changed from tarmac to very stony dirt
then about 25km of for a 1200m descent. Because of the rain, the road was
pretty muddy and about 5mins down I came across this huge blockage of
vehicles, both down and up became apparent that a truck and
trailer had jacknifed in the mud and collided with another, blocking the
whole pass...but not for bikes....wonderful the whole pass to myself! The
backup either side was at least one km.... I sped off downhill for a very
challenging and exciting ride, with the full view of the canyon around me.
Finally the brown(!) Blue Nile came into view, reminding me of the Colorado
and the Grand Canyon, but on a smaller scale, and formed in a different way.

On reaching the bridge ay the bottom, my bike and I were a mess, covered in
mud, and the one water bottle cage virtually shaken off...... I was kindly
offered a good pressure hose by one of the construction guys, to hose me and
my bike down before the huge ascent ahead. Construction.....yes, much of the
pass is being worked on in a huge Japan assisted project to tar the whole
road. Currently none of the road from Rim to Rim is tarred and as I was
about to find out....mush was in really bad bad that I passed
many a truck on the ascent....not so much that I was going fast, but rather
that then trucks were going so slow with the incline and the rough road

The 1400m climb involved 20km of switchbacks, and the now usual false
horizons, but a huge challenge I really enjoyed. Having left camp first and
not being part of the time trial I reached the top first at 11o'clock...I
was really pleased with the way my ride went, completing the gorge route
felt very special and will go down as one of my special bike rides.

I took up a good vantage point where I could watch riders in their last km
of the climb...feeling good about life and how things are going. Also had an
opportunity to teach some kids a lesson in 'earning' money rather than
begging for it!

We are staying on the property of an aid organisation founded some 12 years
ago by the founder of the Tour d'Afrique, to assist farmers through

Just had a wonderful chicken 'braaivleis' for dinner, and were even supplied
with beers from the nearby village! Tough life hey!

We now have only 180 km to Addis Ababa, and I am looking forward to the next
two days before the rest day.

Thats it for today...