19/02/16, stage 22, Gondar to Farm Camp

Today started out pretty well. We had a proper breakfast buffet at the Goha hotel and after that the ride began with some 20k of downhill. Easy peasy… At the bottom of the downhill was a short steep climb and that’s when I first felt that we are at an altitude. The solution was to just take it easy, so that’s what I did.

After that climb it was some 30k of rolling hills to the next climb, which consisted of about 2k of very gradual incline and 2k of steeper incline. Easy did it again! At the top were multiple riders taking pictures and celebrating our conquest of the first ant hill of the tour. Views were pretty spectacular though. From the top it was a nice fast descend towards lunch…
i took a lot of time at lunch and interacted a bit with the audience we had, giving high fives and fist bumps to the kids. Untill lunch the kids had been great. We were the highlight of their day. When we past by they all came running with a big wide white smile, shouting “you you you” or “money money money” or “what’s your name” or “where you go” or “give me pen” or “give me shirt” or “give me shoes” or “give me banana”. I tried to give all of them attention and to be a good guest and honestly had a lot of fun 🙂
After lunch things changed a bit. The kids still came running, but some became frustrated because I had nothing to give to them. And some of them became rowdy, trying to block me or holding on to the rear rack of my bike or trying to touch my legs or trying to slap me on the but or throwing stones. All okay still, I just smiled and slowed down a bit and interacted. Ethiopia is known for the large amount of rowdy kids. It’s just the way it is. The adults are pretty decent, but for some reason the kids are not. Probably because they have no nintento with games like duck shooter or space invadors like we used to have to kill time when we were kids. And probably also because they get stones thrown to their heads by their parents if they misbehave (which I actually saw happen :-). 
After lunch we had a 2nd climb – this time the size of a termite hill – and during the climb there was no escape from the kids due to the low speed we were riding at. The smilling and high fiving and calling and yelling started to cost a lot of energy and wear me out a bit. Nevertheless I continued and luckilly there were less kids at the top of the hill. And during the descent I was fast enough to leave the kids behind. After that followed a last 20k stretch over a flat road through rural area. Kids came running from the fields and became more rowdy, throwing stones more often.
It was some 15k from camp when I got hit. Not by kids that stood yelling at the side of the road, but by some kid that hid in the bushes. I was riding 35k per hour and the rock hit me in the stomach and on the upper leg. It felt like a big rock – which it probably wasn’t – and it felt like i got punched in the stomach, blowing all the air out of me. My residual belly fat was not happy. I figured that the best thing to do was just to keep pedalling, so I did.
Those last 15k were a bit tense. 98% of the kids are nice and fun, but the other 2% are not and that makes every kid along the road into a liability. It’s the same with dogs: some come running after you and scare the hell out of you, while most of them are just cute and cudly. Nevertheless I was glad to make it to camp…
Damage is limited. I now have a nice TDA war scar on my tummy and my upper leg. And I knew that the kids throw stones in Ethiopia. I actually paid for this experience. I should be disappointed if I didn’t get hit. Getting hit was exactly what I wanted! What a great day! I probably will be pretty bruised up tomorrow though…
Anywayzzz…. Ethiopia: wonderfull landscape! People are a bit weird though… 

Enjoying the down hill in the morning 🙂

Mike on a Bike…

Great view at the top of the ant hill…

Audience during lunch

Great ficus trees

Looking down at the flats from the top…

Lovely landscapes!

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