Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 2076, Key Afer – Konso: The Kids of Ethiopia

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Nov - 06 - 2016

Distance: 110.2 km
Ride time: 7:26:19
Average: 14.8 km/h
Max speed: 52.6 km/h
Total: 51574 km

The German cycling couple Tine and Joerg were early risers and we were all on the road by 6.30 – a good thing since my program today included 110 km of cycling and an awful lot of climbing; welcome to Ethiopia!

After saying goodbye to the Germans we rolled down each side of the mountain. My first 40 km were easy enough – a rapid downhill towards the Woito valley. Culturally a very interesting place with tribe people dominating the small villages on each side of my newly built asphalt road.

I found a small place for breakfast and a local invited me over to his table and started ordering food; injera with eggs and a bottle of water. When the food came my new friend quickly ate half of the plate before leaving as he was late for work. Food in rural Ethiopia is very cheap so I didn’t mind paying the couple of dollars, but I couldn’t help thinking that hospitality usually works the other way around.

Back on the road I was feeling tense about the things to come. The German cyclists had mentioned that I would surely meet the infamous stone throwing Ethiopian kids on the climb up to Konso. And sure enough…

They might look innocent and cute… but for some reason, cycling through the villages here is like no other place in the world. Rocks will be picked up from the road and sometimes thrown. On the climbs they will try to grab a water bottle or a spare tire, and as you pass they will give a push – all while yelling you, you, you, money, money, money.

I managed to (mostly) stay calm and keep cycling while trying to ignore the craziness around me. However, the climb was long and as soon as each group of kids had given up their chase, another group would form.

At the end of the day I had done more than 2000 meters of vertical climbing – by all measures a hard day on the bike. It was not the physical aspects that had been the toughest though; dealing with the kids had been just as mentally challenging as the German cyclists had said!

And then there is the other side of Ethiopia; in the cities the people are the friendliest you can imagine, the drivers are among the most considerate, the food the best in Africa, and the history, culture, and landscapes amazing. But boy, the cycling itself… I’m expecting the craziness to continue all the way to Sudan, and I can only hope to remain sane until then.

Categories: Ethiopia
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2 Responses so far.

  1. 2000 metres of altitude gain is a lot, in anyone’s language! That, and having to do with rocks. 🙂

  2. Yes, Stephen… now that I think about it, this was probably one of the most challenging days on the whole adventure – in more than one sense.