An invisible boundary seems to exist in Tanzania, separating the gin-and-tonic-drinking, land-cruising safari goers of the north, and the far more rugged, relatively untouched centre of the country. Both areas have their merits, but one is certainly far less appropriate for travel by bicycle.
In a quite significant route selection error on our part, we found ourselves day-upon-day battling sand and gravel tracks, as our futile search for the new tarmac road through central Tanzania rattled our bikes to within an inch of submission (sand incidentally, being second only to ice as the surface you’d want to avoid on a bike). The days were long and slow going, and one even delivered our slowest average speed for the trip; a truly pedestrian (yet exhausting) 10.8 km/hr, beating our previous low set in the winds of Kazakhstan – a record we were certain would never fall. However, once we’d stopped feeling too sorry for ourselves, it became apparent that we were in fact riding through a pretty authentic slice of this continent; with its friendly locals, enormous baobab trees and red dusty roads cutting through the lush rolling green hills. If we could have conjured up an image of what cycling down Africa might be like before embarking on this trip, then this was it. What a joy.
All that being said though, given that the final 50 km into the commercial centre of Dodoma was a corrugated and rocky cycling nightmare, we were very pleased to once again see tarmac, before a much needed rest day.