The Blue Nile Gorge

There is one stretch of this journey that we have eagerly been anticipating ever since we started to plan the trip – the Blue Nile Gorge. An eye watering descent down 1400m and back up again over the distance of just 40km.

The big day arrived. We keenly got up at 5am to attempt to beat the sun, brakes tightened, and armed with our fleeces for the chilly descent.

Reaching the edge and peering down below, we couldn’t see the valley floor due to the layer of mist. The exhilaration of whizzing down the valley was quickly put to bay when we felt the condition of the road under our bums – this was going to be a bone shaker.

2km into the descent we heard a huge CRACK from James’s bike, at which point his back wheel began to furiously wobble. The hub had snapped, leaving two spokes loose. We have brought lots of maintenance parts, but hadn’t thought we’d need a replacement hub! We agreed trying to descend any further was very dangerous, so had to resort to finding help. After a lot of waiting a bus agreed to squeeze us and our bikes onto the already overloaded vehicle.

We briefly thought about returning to the valley once the bike was fixed, but quickly changed our mind after being projectile vomited on by a baby – one bus ride was more than enough!

What would have been a three day cycle to Addis whizzed by in a few hours, and we had time to set about fixing the bike. Having 700c wheels and 36 spoke hubs was always a gamble in Africa – and in Ethiopia it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. After two days of searching, and just when we thought we would have to settle into city life for a couple of weeks and wait for a replacement to be sent from the UK, we came into luck. We found a mechanic named Mehari who had a few friends with racing bikes who keep their own spare parts due to the difficulty of sourcing them in Africa. It wasn’t long before we had a new hub and Mehari managed to rebuild the wheel. Phew!!

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