Lushoto to Mazumbai

Ross has written the blog for today.  Thanks, Ross…

We were greeted by thin overcast skies as we readied to leave with a forecast of “chameleon” weather, meaning ” it can change”. We left our Italian host and Cypriot hostess, their two young children, two small black dogs, and a goose shortly after nine am and back tracked to Soni.

The 16 km to Soni went quickly as all but about 3 km was down hill and the road paved. Out of Soni we faced 7 km of tough climbing on hard packed clay road.  Initially the grade was at least 10 degrees but it settled down to just difficult after about 11/2 km. The 7 km also turned out to be 5 km, an appreciated error.

The road was rough but quite manageable to the lunch stop in Bumbuli. This was to be at the 50 km Mark but turned out to be 37 km, our second welcomed break. The temperature had been near 30° Celsius.

Our guiding crew prepared another excellent lunch, samosas, salad, roti, potatoes, fruit, juice, and water.

We left expecting undulating roads and discovered that this meant about 14 km of continuous climbing. The roads got progressively worse as we traveled, pot holes filled with water, washouts, rutted channels from recent rainfall, and rocks. Spirits were not high. We suffered at least 4 falls but luckily no injuries. Many places required walking our bikes through or around, and the heat persisted. The views, when we dared to look or when we stopped, were spectacular, green heavily treed terrain, hills and valleys below us, small productive fields, roof tops amongst them. We finally broke out at the top of the climb and continued on a  flattish but ever narrowing road to the Mazumbai Camp, a research facility that we will occupy for two days.

The facility is basic, nearly nothing for electricity, bucket baths, simple rooms, high in the hills, and, surprisingly, with cell phone coverage. It is a welcome stop and we
look forward  to a walk in the last untouched rain forest in Tanzania tomorrow.

The day’s planned 70km ride turned out to be 54 km. With lunch, it took us 8 hours to ride. We climbed 940 meters on the toughest roads any of us have experienced on a CCCTS ride.  We were grateful to have had our panniers transported for us under these conditions.

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