Saturday, January 29, 2011

Six months on the Kilimanjaro Dirt Road Hash

My first blog post, A month in Tanzania, mentioned the Hash.
Here is six months of hashing in pictures
All images © Jon Bigg

22nd August 2010
Vasso Estate near Kibosho on the slopes of Kilimanjaro

Fraser takes the river crossings in his stride

A slightly more cautious approach.

A field of blooms, soon to be harvested and airfreighted to European florists

The end of our first Hash: Sundowners with a view!

3rd October 2011:
Exploring the hilly plantations of the
Tanzanian Coffee Research Institute
An ornate spider strung between coffee bushes

Annie and the girls

Fraser and a stick

Last dash for the finish line, where a cool soda is waiting

Sundowners with a view of Mount Meru this time

13th November 2010
Camping Hash on Lake Ambussel in Masailand
There are more pictures of this hash here 
Sticks, shells and scorpions on the shores of a dried up lake

12th December 2010:
Shanty Town Hash, around our own neighbourhood.
I teamed up with an American doctor and set this hash.  It was a great opportunity to take the kids exploring the river canyons behind our house.

A family home just a couple of kilometres from where we live

9th January 2011
Makoa Farm, Machame
Starting from a field that (with the addition of a graveled Pay & Display car park) could have been plucked straight from rural England, we plunged down a trail into a river valley.  This was Marcus's first Hash for a while - he had grown out of the sling a while ago, but we recently acquired a papoose...
Marcus rides in style
Annie and her friend Sana take a grandstand perch at the end of the hash

23rd January 2011
Somewhere near Weru Weru
Wide open farmland riven by a 100 foot canyon.  The northern skyline stretches from Kilimanjaro to Meru with views over the Blue Mountains to the south.

Fraser and his friend Sill - it's all about sticks and sodas when you take small boys hashing

The house beneath the flame tree
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All images © Jon Bigg

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kilimanjaro Mountain Bike Marathon

10th January 2011

Just heard about this today and it's happening in February.  Sounds fantastic but at the moment it could go two ways:
  1. I find more details, start training and give regular progress updates here
  2. I realise it's a silly idea and delete this blog post 
The nitty (and very) gritty:  Two day bike race around the world's largest free standing mountain.  246 km of dirt track with a total ascent of 2,844 metres -  that's about 9,300 feet.

11th January 2011

Spanner in the works, or handy excuse depending on which way you look at it:  the dates are 25th - 26th February, ie: it starts at 7:30 AM on a Friday and I will have to work that day.

Still, I could just follow the route a day behind the pack... but half the fun is participating in a big event, so forget that.  Long holidays are a real perk of the job but being told when to take them definitely isn't.

Image reproduced from Kiliman Adventure Challenge with their kind permission 
Alternatively, I could put it off for a year.  I know, it sounds like I'm quitting already but actually I have a plan.  I'll start a cycling club at school and recruit able cyclists.  Then next year I'll enter a school team in the event.  That way, I get to participate but technically I'm still at work!  Another perk of the job?  Perhaps.

23rd January 2011

Okay, entering the KiliMAN bike marathon this year just became a little more tricky.  The weekend before, I have to go to Jordan for a workshop.  Ditching the family two weekends in a row?  I suppose I could but do I really want to?

So, I've put out feelers about starting a cycling club at school.  It was something I was thinking of anyway.  The KiliMAN just nudged me forward.  The plan is to train them to maintain their bikes too - they could even notch up diploma points doing it.  You never got credit for going out cycling when I was at school!

Weekend biking: a steep climb up the dirt road towards Machame (Photo: Tim Hope)
29th January 2011

I just returned from a week at the coast.  I was in Pangani with all our 1st year Diploma students who were doing some field work for their Science courses.  When I checked my email, I found two surprises:

1st surprise: there are at least two Kilimanjaro bike marathons.  As well as the February event, there's a much less strenuous 80 km ride in June.  Plenty of time to train and it's a much easier ride.  Sounds like a cop-out though.

2nd surprise: A colleague and I may be able to take a day off work to do the two day ride next month.  To justify our day off, we would either raise money for the school's scholarship programme or take some students with us.  That all sounds fine BUT the ride is less than four weeks away and I've barely ridden for three months!

So, will the June event be the first challenge for my fledgling cycling club?  We'll see, but right now, I have some serious training to do.  Tomorrow, I'll be having my earliest Sunday morning for a long time and will be hitting the dirt tracks at dawn!

Image reproduced from Marie Frances Mt Kilimanjaro Marathon with her kind permission 

3rd February 2011

After a great training ride last weekend, I had to come crashing back down to reality on Monday morning: organising a student event at such short notice is just not possible.  There are too many people and procedures to mobilise and simply too much else going on that we would clash with.
Target: to do it properly next year - no excuses...

The road from home: it just keeps on climbing all the way to the top!
Follow this story as I start the cycling club and put the students through their paces in a later post: Riding round the mountain


Lonely Planet Tanzania (Country Travel Guide)   Lonely Planet Trekking in East Africa   Lonely Planet East Africa (Multi Country Travel Guide)

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Why not leave a comment and give me some inspiration or advice?
Who knows, I might actually do this thing!
I am grateful to Kiliman Adventure Challenge and Marie Frances Mt Kilimanjaro Marathon
for allowing me to use images from their websites

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A fundi for everything

I had never thought about it from the perspective of Danny, our gardener.  For me, fixing the wheelbarrow was such a simple matter; all it needed was a few new bolts.  I had noticed the coat-hanger wire holding it together and he had commented on its dilapidated state.  Once or twice I had absently wondered why Danny didn’t fix it properly.

Finally, I decided to go and buy some bolts myself.  I took Danny with me ‘to help’ but he had probably never bought nuts and bolts before.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have the will or motivation to fix the wheelbarrow - it was an unskilled task that was well within his capabilities.

But Tanzania is a country where there is a fundi (technician or skilled worker) for everything.  There are plumbing and electrical fundis, which is no surprise.  But for anything more than a puncture, people will always go to the bike fundi.  There is no DIY; people don’t seem to fix anything themselves.

On the face of it, this is ironic: Tanzanians are endlessly resourceful and nothing goes to waste.  But tools are simply too expensive for your average Joe.  So something as simple as a missing nut on a wheelbarrow has to be fixed by a fundi, or patched up with coat-hanger wire.

And for Danny that presented a problem.  The nearest wheelbarrow fundi is in town, some 5km distant.  He would have had to push the wheelbarrow all the way there and all the way back if he wanted it fixed.  He could have cycled into town, bought the nuts and brought them back… if he only had a spanner.

So last week, I loaded the wheelbarrow into our Landcruiser and took Danny to the wheelbarrow fundi.  I could have just bought the nuts and fixed it myself but I thought it better to let a guy who had invested in spanners earn his crust.

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All images (c) Jon Bigg