^ Setting off on your bike at first light is one of my favorite parts of Ride TZ. Every morning there was something memorable about fighting the early wake up call, groggily fumbling some food into your mouth, then despite all the pain in your body and pleading for your sore ass to not get on the bike again, overcoming and just start turning pedals towards more miles of memories.
^ This lake was pure magic, can't wait to be back.
^ Apparently chasing down a family of pigs does not make them want to stop for a photo?
^ And here I am complaining about how uncomfortable my saddle is!?!
^ The Helmet Safety Administration has not fully weighed in on the matter, but if they did I think they would rate Ema's helmet position "minimally effective."
^ Patty took a gnarly spill. Myself being a male, I was not shown the full aftermath of what the fall did to her butt/thigh region, but other females reported an ungodly large blend of blacks, blues, and purples in a bruise the size of a small child.
^ Masai women on their way to a wedding. The Masai in this region severely dislike having their photo taken so for the majority of the trip I refrained, but I had to sneak a little shot of them this time.
^ Lunch break with a visit from some locals.
^ Juma, the flat master.
^ Still many hours to go and we were already pretty toasted.
^ That mountain range that can faintly be seen in the distance is where we had to get to for camp that night....which was faaaaaaaaaaaar.
^ After Ema had been repeatedly telling us that we were "almost there" for hours during our seemingly endless march across the red plains we finally got somewhat close to the mountains where we thought we were camping...only to find out there were many more miles of "almost there-ing" as we had to actually make our way around the mountains to camp. At this point it was time to dig deep, then deeper still as we all soldiered on.
^ Beer me.
^ But! There were goats at our camp, goats make everything better.
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^ After the clustercuss of day three, the magical morning riding across the plains as the sun rose over the mountains was perfection.
^ Contrary to what movies, National Geographic, and Facebook photos from friends who've been on a safari in Africa would lead you to believe, Tanzania isn't just swarming with zoo-worthy wild animals everywhere. In my mind before heading on Ride TZ I had imagined riding my bike across the plains while elephants lazily looked up from their watering holes like, "was that a dude on a bike" and wildebeest herds blocking our route and being chased by lions and....you know, all that. Well, besides some wild monkeys, birds, and this snake, the extend of animal life we saw was endless herds of goats, pigs, cows, sheep, and camels.
^ Lunch break, give me all the Cokes.
^ Katie's legs were keeping a visual diary of her time on Ride TZ.
^ Red earth plains like these just went on and on and on...and I loved it. We all spread out a bit on this section and the solitude in the middle of the great wide nothingness of it all was one of my favorite memories from the ride.
^ I found a pair of kudu horns randomly in the middle of the plains and strapped them to my pack for a few miles intent on bringing them home until our guides informed me that if found by airport security they would assume I killed the animal and arrest me on the spot for illegal poaching...so back onto the plains they went.
^ To our great surprise, expecting another 3-5 hours more of riding, shortly after lunch Ema took a turn off our route and *presto!* we were at camp! After the slog of day three, a shorter day for our fourth day of riding was most welcome.
^ Our camp master and chef, Simba! Stomach filler, early morning waker-upper, and permanent smile and high five giver.
^ With a little more time than normal at camp, we spent our time journaling, playing cards, sitting by the bonfire, doing laundry, and (not pictured) drinking whisky with the staff and guides and hearing some truly hilariously unbelievable stories about their travels.
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^ A well rested early morning crew, ready for our daily yoga break. One of our riders, Katia is a yoga instructor so every day after 30-60 minutes of riding in the morning we'd all break, lay out a big tarp wherever we'd happen to be and yoga it up.
^ "Don't stand so close to the water man, alligators will get you."
^ Plants in Tanzania look all pretty from far away, then you get closer and realize they're all ready to kill your face.
^ Our first glimpse of the Usambara Mountains, which we would eventually get to, climb, and ride down.
^ Termite mound.
^ Kaitlin, whose wedding I'd be photographing a little over a month after the ride was VIGILANT about not getting sunburnt. Here she is demonstrating proper arm sunscreen squirting procedure.
^ In the battle between skin and earth, skin always loses.
^ In the battle between Tanzanian sharp bush spikey things and tires, tires always lose.
^ After riding across a high plateau for most of the day, the Usambara Mountains were in sight. The only thing inbetween us was hands down the best descent I've ever had on a bike. So euphoric in fact, I just rolled with it and didn't take a single photo along the way. All of us descending at full tilt and hooting for joy along the way will forever be the highwater mark of the ride for me.
^ Lisa earned that downhill the hard way!
^ That post epic downhill glow.
^ One last bridge to cross and it was off to camp!