Wow.....a tough day today...Tuskers deserved!

Beyond the Saddle ....Cairo to Cape Town
Howard Fairbank
Sun 4 Mar 2007 16:25
Position: 02:20.938N 37:59.698E

Slow now to the equator!

In the 'centre' of Marsibit....and so happy to be here, probably the most
challenging day so far......! I'll put it in my toughest 5 cycles ever!

I shouldn't have tempted fate in yesterday's blog, saying with the sunset
etc....'What more could I ask for?'

Well I'd heard on my BBC receiver that there was going to be a partial
eclipse of the moon last night, so set the alarm for 2 am, and low and
behold there is was...beautiful, a full moon that was very dull and had a
strong reddish tinge...quite special in the middle of nowhere....presume
some of you saw it too?

So...the day today.....

86 hard earned km's cycled today at a painfully slow average speed, of just
over 13km/h!!

I wanted to get to Marsibit early so left at 0640, with the full moon
setting and sunrise half an hour off. Got some beautiful photos of the early
morning 'nothingness'.

The road continued as bad as yesterday, and I was doing pretty well, feeling
strong and started pulling away from Tom. About 10km into the ride the wind
picked up, eventually getting to 30knots, varying between 90 degrees
crosswind and direct headwind. To make matters worse, the road and terrain
deteriorated, to real barren lava rock desert....This now was 'The Meltdown'
proper! We were just skirting on the Chalbi desert, which a few locals in
Moyale had warned me about! A very desolate and inhospitable place! The
wind was whipping up the sand and I was now in a full on sandstorm. With the
slight cross wind direction, nd the loose rocks on the road, forward
movement was tricky and the bike kept on 'tripping' over rocks.

I got to the lunch stop first, and left before anyone else had
arrived...very yes this was going to be a real testing day for
all! I was hoorified to look into the truck's side mirror, and see what I
looked like....just covered in red dust, with my eyeballs scratching with
all the sand in my eyes.

The one positive was that the road was flat. That until the 65km mark when
the road started its tortuous 600m climb up an extinct volcano to reach
Marsibit some 20km away. Fortunately now, the terrian change from the sandy
desert to a slightly better road and more green bush vegetation.

I finallly got in to Marsibit at 13h20, with the first two racers just ahead
of me. Yes some guys raced in these conditions....madness!

We had been told there was this wonderful hotel with ice cold beers and
drinks at the finish.....well turns out Marsabit is strongly islamic, and
finding a cold beer was almost as difficult as the ride! Eventually found
one, and 3 X 500ml Tusker bottles later I was ready for a nap....very
satisfied boy!

A well earned day off, where I hope to explore the national park, so no blog

Bye for now