(Day 15) Kisolanza to Dodoma – 14 April 2011
Distance for the day – 329 km Odometer – 6 208 km
Hours on the Bike – 06:40 Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 47 864.00 Last night we were unsure of which road to take up North. There is the short, adventurous, well known dirt road (A104) from Iringa through Dodoma to Arusha. Then there is the newly tarred B1 to the east, heading to Dar-es Salaam, missing Dodoma and Lake Manjara to reach Arusha. The latter is some 400 km’s further with little difference time wise. We met with a couple at The Old Farmhouse, where we stayed, who warned us not to consider the first option because of the state of the road.
The adventurous part of the group got the better of us and we headed for Dodoma on the road of many surprises. Things went smoothly but at a slow speed due to wash aways, because of heavy rains, badly rutted sections, corrugations, areas with loose marble like stone, sand and a general bad state of a very course gravel road – much worse than any public gravel roads at home. The evidence is also to be seen on the state of the few vehicles we passed.
We travelled through some beautiful, typical African landscape, with lots of thorn trees and the most Baobab trees we have seen thus far. We stopped often to cool our shocks, which got so hot that you could not touch it with your bare hands. Richard’s of course were cool because his were not functioning anymore, with the seal that fell out and all the oil gone. It made his ride more challenging and he complained that the bike was bucking him like a horse and that the rear end was all over the place.
We were progressing well until 80 km’s then disaster struck! Norman’s bike decided it had enough and literally broke in half. When we arrived on the scene he was sitting on the bike, wedged in-between the tank bag and the luggage on the back and could not get out. The bike now looked like a cruiser, with the front part extended outwards and the engine now firmly on the ground. The main frame broke clean in two places.
Everybody was dumbstruck and the obvious words were spoken – This is the end of Norman’s dream. We were out in the sticks with no back-up and a problem too big to sort out! Rufus then said, “No we have to make a plan!” and started dismantling the bike – “..we need a welder and we will make a plan”. There was some new “moed” but with some scepticism and it was more a matter of hope? Richard took off to try and get to a village and a vehicle to load the bike. After a while he found one and was soon back with a group of locals on the back of a pick-up. The question now was, do we hire the vehicle to take the bike 160 kms further to Dodoma or back to the Village and see if we could make a plan ourselves. The latter was agreed on.
At the village we went to the local “handy man” that had some basic equipment and a welder, with only 4mm welding rods. The damage was assessed and Rufus, Norman and Richard got to work, with Stelios guarding the bikes. There was a huge contingent of onlookers standing around the Three Farmers and the Greek, at work.
After four hours the frame was welded, bike reassembled and we were heading for Dodoma – heehaa!! We realized that the night was going to catch us and considered to pull off and sleep next to the road, but the fact that we did not have any meals for the day and wanted a wash badly was the force that drove us into the night, to reach Dodoma after 21:00. After 150 km’s of dirt, Normans bike made Dodoma with no further incidents and a good plan had come together. We booked in at the New Dodoma Hotel. A cold beer never tasted so good before!