(Day 32) Aksum to Debark – 1 May 2011
Distance for the day – 283 km Odometer – 10 480 km
Hours on the Bike – 06:48
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 77 327.00
The whole night at Aksum there was a huge commotion at the big church, just below our hotel. It was the beating of drums with people singing. This got louder as the night progressed and when we left Aksum before sunrise, we saw hundreds of church-goers gathered outside the church all dressed in white and hoards of people still approaching the church from all directions. It was Sunday, 1 May 2011.
Norman was concerned about his motorbike and the gravel road that was still lying ahead for the day, so he decided to have a head start. The first 50 km’s to Shire was tar with a few gravel stretches due to road works. Everything went smoothly till 15 km’s before reaching Shire. Stelios’s bike again had a flat tyre.
We decided to change the tube and then got a surprise. It also had a hole in it, due to chafing caused by the vibration of the bike and the bad roads we have been on. It was then discovered everybody’s spare tubes except for Richards one front spare had holes in! This was bad news, because Norman was up ahead with the compressor, Rufus wasted all his CO2 inflating repair canisters and we managed to break Richards’s foot pump in the process to inflate the tyre. We now had a problem and Rufus got rid of some of his frustration when he threw Richards hand pump as hard as he could in to the bushes. Richard stood there in amazement, but did not dare to say anything -”stupid!, why did we not take Normans pump, with the bike trailing at the back?”
In Ethiopia people are everywhere and soon we had a whole contingency of onlookers standing around us. Then suddenly one of them appeared with the broken hand pump, very proud of his find, showing it off to all his mates. Norman was already past Shire, negotiating the gravel roads with his “wounded” bike, so we were on our own. The only option was to get help. Rufus then took the whole tyre and rim and got one of the locals to hop on and off they went. At a small village they called in at a house with some bicycles parked in front – the local “bike repair centre.” He then realised after the third attempt that a normal patch does not work with these extra heavy-duty tubes. The last option was to cut a piece of old tube and prepare that to be used as a patch. It worked and an hour later the threesome set off to catch Norman with the onlookers waving them off and one Ethiopian with a big smile on his face with a broken foot pump and a few Ethiopian Birr for his help.
The road from Shire was gravel, with many detours due to road works, as they are upgrading the roads to Tar. Every day we talk about the beautiful landscape and it seems to get better and better each day. The stretch from Adi Gabru to Debark, 150km, is the most impressive part with the road climbing and descending through incredibly steep slopes, all gravel, through the Semien Mountains. Once this is tar, then it will most definitely be the ultimate road to travel for any biker.
We experienced our highest maximum temperature so far at 50 °C, and the elevation varied from 843m to 2903m.
We met Norman in Debark and decided to buy food and push on till dark and then look for a camping spot off the road. The night stop was fantastic, out of the busy villages, quiet and “clean”. We went to bed with a sense of achievement and a tinge of uncertainty of what the night might bring up. Tomorrow we off to Gedaref in Sudan!