Chutes, snakes and laddersFebruary 26, 2017 in Guinea
My mood was starting to improve but then there's been yet more problems with the bike. Firstly the rear wheel bearing completely collapsed, though I initially felt lucky that I found a mechanic who could source the same size bearing. Unfortunately I later realised his thuggish hammering at the wheel had chipped and cracked the cast alloy hub. Some mechanical advice from back home confirmed my expectations, the whole rear wheel is @#$&€£. The crack will propagate and the whole rear wheel will disintegrate and it's impossible to tell if that's in 10 miles or 10k miles. As you can imagine I'm pretty urgently trying to source a new rear wheel from the UK. Then 2 days later I start an oil change at a rural campsite and find out half way through that the thread in the oil sump is stripped and I can't do the bolt back up. I'm in the middle of nowhere with a bike I now can't start! I temporarily use threadlocker 'glue' to hold the bolt in. Hopefully that lasts!
So I tentatively head off to a 'highlight' of the trip I've been looking forward to - the Fouta Djallon highlands. Unfortunately it turns out the roads to this region are terrible. They're mostly solid volcanic rock, meaning I need to lean forward and ride on the pegs nearly the whole way to keep as much force away from my fragile wheel as possible. I'd heard so many good things about this area from other overlanders and people in Senegal, Gambia and Guinea itself, but as I get into the region proper I find myself a bit disappointed. It's interesting and provides something different from the flatness of the past few weeks, but it's not stunning.
Well my opinion and mood has changed after 3 days of brilliant hiking and bouldering. On foot you get into the really interesting areas. My guide has themed walks such as 'Indiana Jones World' and 'chutes and ladders'. The latter involves climbing down 200m by a waterfall, repeatedly crossing it, and then climbing back up later via ladders made of branches tied together with vines. Although I think this may be better named snakes and ladders, after we came across a cobra. I'm glad he was ahead of me! I'm now in much better mood after being looked after with great local food and having no mosquitoes at this altitude. I'm now ready to get back on the bike, although the hiking and riding on the pegs have given me throbbing thighs and the knees of a geriatric.
P.s. I'm sure everyone will be amused to hear the legs of a plastic patio chair broke while I was sat watching the football, while 20 of the village children watched me and the football. 2 hours later I also fell out of a hammock...but no one saw this!
1 and 6) The ladders!
2) The plateau where every trek starts...downhill
3) The start of the descent
4) The waterfall bouncing off my bald head
5) Another waterfall that I later swam inRead more