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Offline Osadabwa

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Moro-go-go-goro!
« on: June 25, 2018, 07:17:32 pm »
A six-pack of bikers on KTMs (and a lone CRF) climb the Uluguru Mountains behind Morogoro, Tanzania in search of the illusive Kisaki and Bunduki passages.



Spoiler: We don't make it... but we braaaaap!
 
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Offline Offshore

Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 07:30:01 pm »
Let's see what you got :ricky:
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Here goes...
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 08:07:23 pm »
The setup: I had a meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, so Ajax and I hatched a plan to ride beforehand in the Uluguru Mountains behind Morogoro. I’d never ridden there before and Ajax had been looking for a way to either ride the length of the mountains down to the tip of the Selous, or cross the spine from East to West, making a tough, but rideable loop. I plotted the Google Earth tracks to do both (quietly ignoring how steep the mountain looked and how tenuous the tracks seemed) and we set off to conquer where all others had failed!


Above: Sweltering Dar es Salaam just after mid-day. Getting the bikes ready. I’d be riding a borrowed KTM 450 (Thanks Mika Menega!), NoBall (stuffed leather armchair on the left) would be on a shiny 6-Days Argentina, Ajax (blue shirt, thank the gods) would take his trusty 2015 450 EXC.

With the bikes on the trailer, it was a horribly long and slow drive to Morogoro. Beer after beer, it seemed we no closer than before. Ajax and NoBall took turns racing between 50kph signs, and by unanimous opinion NoBall won the award for worst driver. If he hadn’t stopped for the pedestrians at the zebra crossing and gotten pulled over by the cops for overtaking on a solid line we’d have been to the bar minutes earlier! Anyway, having finally arrived we settled into a wholly new routine of beer, lies and World Cup before hitting the rack.


Above: In Morogoro, setting off. We’d hauled Scania (far left), a supersized, good-natured Swede with hands like beef shanks along for his first multi-day outing. He came complete with shiny new riding kit and a new-to-him CRF like some kind of Scandinavian action figure. In Morogoro, we met TS1 from Arusha and his 20-something agemate Auto who is making a go of it in Morogoro as a farmer.

We set off in a blaze of dust, and a cloud of glory covering ground on bigger tracks to inject ourselves into the muscle of the Ulugurus. It was beautiful and quick. Ajax was setting the pace up front and the rest of the muppets were sucking the dust right off his ass. I’ll never understand why. A reprieve came as we were debating a new deviation and we realized TS1 was nowhere to be seen. Sure enough, the first KTM casualty. Try as we might (and we tried everything according to the troubleshooting flow-chart printout Ajax produced) we couldn’t get his EFI bike to idle (how he cursed his brother’s shitty mechanic work, smelly socks and general character… the things he said would make the devil blush!). After an hour, he threw in the towel and then we were five.


Above: Just getting out there


Above: My wheels for the weekend; an older, carbureted EXC 450. I was immediately chuffed. With a Scott’s damper installed, the thing was actually very rideable and nobody can seriously question the quick ready power of a KTM.


Above: Farting around and failing to fix TS1’s borrowed bike. Sorry fella, better luck next time!

Having abandoned our comrade to fend for himself, we became a lighter, meaner group of five blasting up the fantastic twisting road into the mountain. Thanks to the good people of the USA before the Trump regime began, parts of the road had been concrete slabbed and built with water run-off humps that were like blasting a supermoto track (unless you were a little over eager on the wet spots and hit the deck, eh Auto?) and the dirt sections had nice washouts to ricochet off of. Soon we were high on the flank of the mountain, fueling up from bottles in Mgeta and searching for the tiny track down to the southern escape.


Above: Auto in his Street Wear flight suit enjoying the view


Above: Fuel stop in Mgeta


Above: Climbing and jockeying for position


Above: Noball does a wee-weelie






Above: The views went on forever

From the wider dirt, we dropped fast into narrower forest tracks that went through sections of indigenous trees followed by ferny open areas and an old eucalyptus plantation. There were many fallen trees, a big one of which crossed the track and we helped each other pull the bikes across. The tree fell at an awkward angle, otherwise Scania would have just launched over it, also his bike was a little low on fuel, maybe next time okay boys?




Above: It was a tall obstacle, but not tall enough to duck


Above: Light bikes are easy to manhandle, even for the ladies

to be continued...
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 1 continued
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 08:16:13 pm »
After awhile the forest thinned out and we were into fields and high grass. We were following what was once a graded dirt road, now reduced to an overgrown footpath flanked by head-high grass that made finding the path a challenge as you try to see ahead while being ka-thwacked from all sides and showered with pollen and those damnable Velcro seeds. Suddenly, Ajax heads up a steep knoll, then down the other side, then up again, not noticing he’d made a wrong turn. When the descent of the next bump looked sphincter puckering and death-defying, he stopped to parlay. A local farmer confirmed we needed to go back to stay on course.


Above: Cresting a hill, off piste


Above: Somebody has a pretty nice homesite


Above: Noball and Ajax (that's what they really look like)


Above: Scania, Auto and me


Above: Ajax descends from his off-piste detour, ashamed of his piss poor navigation (he says he was following my Google Earth track, but we'll never know for sure…)


Above: back on the level through the high grass

Back on track, it wasn’t long before we reached the little village of Kikeo which was the farthest into the mountain any of us had ever been. We hoped to confirm that the footpath leading down to Kisaki near the Selous was bikeable, but it didn’t sound encouraging. The first woman was adamant: it wasn’t passable by bike. Some macho dudes around the duka tried to change the narrative, but they seemed to be confusing our motorbikes for tanks capable of anything. These guys could not be trusted… one said I looked like Chuck Norris (they said it, Mr. Norris, not me, I’m just repeating). Given that it was already two PM, there were no more villages below us, Scania had already consumed all his water and there was no fuel in Kikeo, we decided to abort the mission and return to base.


Above: Ajax approaches


Above: At the Kikeo duka


Above: A sizeable church for such a puny village with so little going for it… oh I see!

Resigned to retrace our steps, and with mirages of cold beers dancing in our heads back in Morogoro, we took of with a twist in our grip. I launched through the tall grass, totally blind and stinging with those fekking seeds, and eventually stopped to wait for the others. That’s when I noticed I had no clutch. Ajax came and diagnosed it: the bike’s too damn hot, you wanker. I hadn’t noticed any steam, but the slow going had depleted the water level, so my remaining drinking water went straight into my thirsty horse. When Scania checked, he found a similar situation. It’s hot out here in Africa.


Above: Disco Auto trying to keep his booties dry


Above: Clutch cooling in the forest


Above: The guys making their way through the eucalyptus


Above: Ajax emerges from the small track back to the road

We needed a pitstop, so we pulled into the first likely spot that sold beer and water and topped up both. By then the afternoon was getting long in the tooth, bringing out the cool angled light that inspires hooliganistic behavior. Ajax led us back down the road and I took up the sweeper spot but couldn’t stay put. Soon I’d reeled in Auto and Scania, toying with them like a cat playing with wounded gekos until I caught up to Noball. Now he made a challenge of it. If the others were gekos, Noball was a gila monster, or at least a really big geko.

It ended up being a proper duel and a howling good time. Noball took no prisoners and was more than happy to try to roost stones at me and at least once he actively tried to push me off the edge of the cliff rather than let me pass on the outside. We battled for miles that way, inches away from each other, me almost taking him on a corner as he flailed around like a constipated buffalo on rollerskates. I was enjoying the punch of the KTM and the luxury of broken-in mousses fitted front and rear and felt invincible but couldn’t quite get around him. Then, just before we got back to the big road, he screwed the pooch, wallowing out wide and giving me a chance to cut him off on the inside with a quick coup de grace. It was an awesome way to end the day. Eat it, Noball!


Above: Local bar up in Mgeta


Above: Somebody call the circus… the clowns have escaped


Above: Noball leaves the bar… nice backpack kid, gimme your lunch money!


Above: Descending the concrete slab. Somewhere on that slab while I was racing to catch up, I saw skid mark twenty feet long going straight to the grassy edge. I wondered if somebody had gone over but didn’t want to check (they’d be fine… probably). Later Noball tells us it was him, having blipped one of the water humps with too much gusto, landing and skidding right up to the edge. We were not surprised.


Above: Wonderful descent on the sumo track. No pics from the dirt as we were racing it. Only time in years I wish I’d had a helmet cam.


Above: Ulugurus from below

That night, more beers, more lies and more World Cup.

Tomorrow, more ride.
 
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Offline Jaakmh

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 08:35:53 pm »
Aaahh! Something totally different. Looks great to ride there!


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Offline eberhard

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2018, 08:45:15 pm »
 :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Ri

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2018, 08:49:38 pm »
Darnit, I can barely ride and now you make me wanna race, it looks and sounds so much fun  >:D
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day two - Bunduki or Bust
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2018, 06:49:53 am »
Astonishingly, we were up and on the road before 9, our ranks depleted to four as another biker hung up his boots prematurely. We’d lost Auto. It occurred to me we might be living in an alternate universe… the old guys keep riding; the young boys can’t keep up… and we’re leaving the hotel on schedule?! There is an imbalance in the force! Soon we were made to pay for it. The first track we tried dead-ended into the mountainside and shortly thereafter Noball pulled up with a pinch flat.


Above: First track we tried petered out


Above: Noball repairing his puncture

Our aim for the morning was to climb up to the highest known point between the East side of the mountain and Bunduki, an amusingly named village on the western side. From there, I had made a small track that appeared to climb up a ridge over the top. We needed to test the theory. First, though we had a fantastic winding road, slick with a bit of recent rain to make it interesting to race up.


Above: Everything was green as broccoli


Above: A quick stop shortly after I nearly squibbed over the edge on the slick clay. It’s what I get for passing Ajax and trying to roost him with mud.

Ajax investigated an alternate route he’d been wondering about and it turned out to be a wonderful detour. Smaller than the previous hour’s riding, it was composed of slickish red-clay soil and sizeable drop-offs affording spectacular views of the valley below which was gloomy with low hanging cloud.


Above: Noball




Above: Intermittent sunshine was keeping the track tacky enough to ride at a good pace


Above: Ajax points out our destination. From behind I hear Scania say “What, up there in the sky??”

We weren’t there yet. First we needed a quick fuel up and a soda to prepare for the narrowest and most spectacular section of singletrack of the ride which would take us to the school at the bottom of the Bunduki link track. If it was once a road, it was a loooong time ago. Roughly following the contours of the land, the track eases its way around the hills through villages and fields, crossing several clear running rivers (all tributaries of the Ruvu).


Above: At the fuel stop, Noball finds a new love. He needed a minute or two to in private.


Above: This place is usually very wet. We lucked out to find it as dry and easy to ride as we did.


Above: Ajax kept saying how the mountain fits almost perfectly with his childhood ideas of Africa from Tarzan movies. I take it he meant that the environment was lush and green with palms everywhere… or did he mean where a marooned white baby is raised by apes and grows up talking to the jungle creatures and swinging from vines… cause I didn’t see none of that business.


Above: Scania and I enjoying the footpath. Scania said: “I’m so fit, I can do this all day long. When is it going to get challenging? And yeah my bike is overheating and I constantly have to put water in it, so what? I will top up with my own tears and blood if I need to… or I could fix the fan… why are we sitting here? Let’s ride already!”


Above: Noball strikes an elegant figure always, but particularly while crossing rivers


Above: Scania again: “I normally ride wheelies through rivers, but my boots are dusty so I prefer to walk in order to wash them off a bit. It’s not at all that I worry about falling in the water like I did yesterday.”


Above: Like Tarzan himself, but mercifully fully clothed, Ajax emerges from the Jungle…




Above: One last crossing and we would be at the departure point.

to be continued...
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Bunduki attempt continued...
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2018, 07:00:17 am »
At last we got to the hill climb area. Scania was chomping at the bit to try it because it was a narrow, rocky footpath that went straight up the side of the hill and there was no hope in hell of us making it up. But, a true gent, he allowed Noball and I to have a go first. I was determined and very confident. After all, I’ve spent lots of time with Jonny Walker and I’ve learned a thing or two. All the lookers-on were very encouraging, saying: “No way in hell, mzungu!” But I don’t speak Swahili so well, and ignore people as a matter of course, so off I went. To my utter surprise, I didn’t make it very far. The bike stalled, fuel pissed out of the carb, I nearly went over backwards and Ajax reminded me that I’ve been confusing Jonny Walker the biker with Johnnie Walker the blended whiskey again, fafaksake. Noball had equally good luck, so in no time we were again turned away from our goal.


Above: I made it, oh… 50 feet. Valiant effort, that. In my defense, I am rubbish at this stuff.


Above: Scania was so upset he didn’t get a chance to climb the hill or sully his Day-Glo-and-Lipstic-Cherry-Red riding boots, he threw his bike over on the side in protest and made it look just like he did it on accident.

Noball and I were knackered. In total we probably spent 15 minutes trying different routes up the side. At one point I made it up another angle only to wind up in somebody’s field full of recently planted cassava in coffee-can sized potholes. No luck, and frankly not as much fun as what we were riding before, so nobody minded too much when we set off (except Scania who was gutted… next time, Scania, next time).


Above: Down into another of the beautiful Uluguru valleys


Above: Noball either expressing his pleasure with the universal “thumb’s up” and expressionless eyes, or flicking a stubborn booger recently carved out thanks to his special hi-tech thumbless riding gloves


Above: Somebody sometime had built a few bridges down in this valley. A couple of kids tried to stop us to pay a toll by building a little wooden gate in front of one. I considered getting Ajax to do the Truffle Shuffle as payment but decided instead to knock over their hastily constructed gate and keep riding.

Our narrow track was behind us. It was getting late, and an effort to make one last ditch attempt over the spine was scuppered by Noball getting yet another puncture. It was probably for the best, given the time and that we all wanted to get back to Morogoro to watch the Swedes crush the Germans in the World Cup (another spoiler, they didn’t). So, puncture fixed, we set off down one of the best tracks of the weekend, again in race mode.
It was Ajax in the lead with me, Scania and Noball battling it out for 2nd place. Noball held me off for ages, but I finally got him on the inside, and I was battling to get past Scania when I saw a golden opportunity to properly welcome him to the group. Ahead was a water crossing followed by a big, beautiful, smelly mud puddle one bike length long. Scania slowed down to navigate them both and I gunned it, hammering past him through the water and mud, sending a tsunami of muck up for him to ride right through. Mission accomplished.


Above: Noball got no air


Above: The start of the race course


Above: A smoother crossing this time round for Scania


Above: Finally, some mud on that brand-new kit. Scania said: “It was a thing of beauty to be so thoroughly doused in mud and cow shit. Not since I was a little boy swimming naked with whales in the Fjords of my homeland have I felt so alive!” You’re welcome, amigo. Cherish it, my friend, and look to one day to share the experience with someone else!

The Tanzanian sun was wobbling above the earth like the lazy eye of Sylvester, our favorite waiter, and we were on the home stretch. We raced through the rest of the little tracks and pinned it on the big dirt back to Morogoro, enjoying the scenery and odd little dioramas along the way. In no time we were back to the bar, supporting the Swedish attempt at glory on the World Stage. Sorry fellas, like us and everybody else in this world, you win some, you lose some. Just keep braaaping on!


Above: Ajax at the end of the good stuff


Above: Portrait of a fruit stand


Above: Surreal semi-complete structure with cartoon milk-cow weather vane… Morogoro, Tanzania


Above: Field of sunflowers, line of baobabs, Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania


Above: Noball paused at the entrance to the hotel, wiping a solitary tear from his dusty cheek with a gloved fingertip. All his macho man exterior melted away as he took in the mountains bathed in afternoon light. For him, it was a bittersweet moment as it may be his last ride with the Dar Bikers. He’s been with us for several loooong years, and now it’s time to head back to the UK for awhile to act like a grownup. For the Dar Bikers though, it’s all sweet and no bitter. Noball, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 07:08:21 am by Osadabwa »
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Epilogue: The Painful Drive to Dar
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2018, 07:05:35 am »
We were up and on the road in good time. I drove the first half and was pulled over twice by traffic police, fined once for overspeeding a whopping 6kph in a 50kph zone. After that, I spat on the ground and swore to Zeus I’d never drive in this country again. So Noball took another turn. All went well until we got back to the sprawling outskirts of Dar. We were crawling behind another car through traffic, the usual throng of people everywhere. Approaching from the right, I see a bodaboda with two passengers on the back, or was it three… in any case, it was full of humanity. A second later we hear a bump.

Noball  –   Ajax! What should I do?
Ajax     –   Keep going, Noball.
Noball  –   But Ajax, there’s a fakking bike attached to the trailer!
Ajax     –   Okay then, fakking pull over!

Sure as hell, the damn boda rider had managed to hook his crashbars onto our trailer, pitching himself and his passengers out onto the hot asphalt. In the time it took us to figure out what was going on, we were around the corner and out of sight. This could have gone badly for us… people love to try to pin their own stupidity on the wazungu. Fortunately for us, while we stood around not knowing what to do, along comes a skinny man in a helmet, on foot. He sheepishly points at the bike, uncouples it from the trailer and rides off.


Above: The boda that tried to mate with our KTMs and the man who rode her away again.

We laughed like hell.

The end.

Wait:


Hey Steve, look at MEMEME!

THE END
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 02:51:12 pm by Osadabwa »
 
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Offline Oubones

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2018, 08:03:57 am »
Again an excellent RR, you guys are so lucky to be able to ride in those areas and to have such a likeminded group.
Thanks!
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Offline Offshore

Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2018, 08:11:25 am »
Thank you. Something different, it looks hectic.
 
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Offline eSKaPe

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2018, 08:13:50 am »
Fantastic places to ride there wow nice RR!!
 
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Offline FrancoisTz

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2018, 09:21:22 am »
This must have been so great.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank amongst those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
 
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Offline pietas

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2018, 01:07:15 pm »
Nice ride. Thanks  :thumleft:
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Offline Sheepman

Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2018, 09:19:30 am »
Brilliantly written  :thumleft:
 
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Offline steveindar

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2018, 09:48:36 am »
Yes, Hunter, you're right, Orange doesn't suit you. Pink maybe...
#Nipplecaps must fall!!!
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Offline wilfwalk

Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2018, 10:22:05 pm »
Thanks for entertaining us so well. Super report and great photos, that area looks really beautiful. Look forward to another sometime 👍
 
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Online Rooi Wolf

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Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2018, 01:33:48 pm »
As usual, high class entertainment!!
 
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Offline westfrogger

Re: Moro-go-go-goro!
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2018, 05:02:33 pm »
Always a pleasure, thank you for the RR.  :thumleft:
 
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