Several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pic(t)

Posted June 10, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  So that was a hell of a title to put together.  This isn’t a real blog entry this is just a link to photos.

http://gallery.me.com/jfink901/100044

I really hope that works.

love

dave

looking back

Posted May 27, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

How do you describe the best/worst/most intense 4 months of your life?  I’ve been asked to write up a little thing about the Tour D’Afrique, a four month-long bike ride from the top of Africa to the bottom.  Ever since I was a boy I’ve dreamed of going to Egypt.  Pictures of pyramids and mummies and The Sphinx captured my imagination.  Now not only was I going, I was going to begin a huge journey there. On a chilly January morning, myself and about 60 other riders were taking off on the adventure of a lifetime.  Bicycling from Cairo to Cape Town seemed like a good idea at the time.  How hard can it be to ride a bike down a continent?  Why do I do things like this?

Earlier today another rider and I were discussing the fact that we only have 747 more kilometres to go. This used to seem like a pretty big number to me.  Now I’m not even remotely fazed by it.  It almost seems too easy; is there a catch somewhere?  There always is.  We’ve ridden over every type of terrain imaginable: sand, loosely packed gravel, corrugated dirt roads, lava rocks, and occasionally even paved roads in good repair.  We’ve ridden on bright sunny days, horrendous thunderstorms, bitter cold mornings, and I even got hailed on once (hail? Aren’t I in friggin’ Africa?).  We’ve ridden through the deserts of Sudan where there wasn’t another soul on the road (I was listening to my ipod one day and forgot about the folks on the lunch truck that drove by; they had a good laugh at my expense when they caught me dancing whilst riding).  We’ve ridden through Ethiopia where each and every child in every single village expects you to smile and wave at them (they’ll pelt you with rocks whether you wave or not).  We’ve ridden past the pyramids of Egypt, the waterfalls in Malawi (life doesn’t get much better than getting off the bike and soaking yourself under a waterfall on a blisteringly hot day), and the barren wasteland that seems to compose most of Botswana.  We’ve seen elephants, zebra, giraffe, springbok, and an entire barrel full of monkeys.  We’ve met starving children in Zambia (I tried to give them my broccoli… Mom, they didn’t want it either).  We’ve gotten rides in tuk tuks, cabs, backs of pickup trucks, matatus,  the odd dump truck, and a few guys even rode camels for a bit.  We bungee jumped from Victoria Falls (well I didn’t, I’m far too much of a coward to do something like that), climbed Kilimanjaro, visited monasteries in Ethiopia, went swimming in the Nile (never try to skip a stone when you’re wearing your keys around your wrist; swimming isn’t always just for fun) . We went on safari at the Ngorogoro Crater, and stayed in tiny villages where everyone who lived there was at least distantly related.   We went from huge cities where no one noticed us, to small towns where all the people would come out and watch us stop and drink Fanta, and rode through the suburbs of Nairobi which look identical to suburbs everywhere.  We’ve suffered from diarrhea, saddle sores, broken bones, back pain, leg cramps, and daily exhaustion.  We’ve complained about poor service in restaurants, long days, each other, people watching your every move, each other, overly inquisitive children, mobs of unruly boys, and each other. Yet each day we’re up and ready to start again.  Every day on this trip has brought some new adventure, which is kind of amazing since every day is fairly similar:  wake up far too early, eat breakfast, ride your bike a ridiculously long distance, eat lunch, ride even further, eat dinner, then go to bed.

The one thing that has made this trip truly unforgettable is the people, individuals from 20 or so countries with nothing in common other than being idiotic enough to sign up for a trip like this.  It sounds like the tag line to a bad reality show.  People that you normally wouldn’t acknowledge if you passed them on the street suddenly become you’re best friend.  I now know more about many people on this trip than their own relatives do.  When you have a 6 hour day ahead of you, with nothing to occupy your time other than pedal and repeat, you start talking to folks quite a bit.  You discover their dreams and aspirations.  You discuss what really matters, because there is no TV.  You also discuss your favourite episode of MASH and why Dick Sergent was better than Dick York.  These are people and conversations that will stick with you for life.  However, these same people wouldn’t recognize you if you were to get a different shirt, because they only know you in the three you wear every day.

I’ve been asked if I’d do this trip again, the answer never varies, “Not in a million years!”  However would I recommend this trip to others, without a moment’s hesitation.  This trip will make you appreciate what you have at home.  It’ll also make you realize what your life has been lacking.  It will make you weep with both joy and sorrow (occasionally at the same time).  You will feel more alive than you’ve ever felt, often when wishing you were dead.  You will be ecstatic to crawl into your tent every night and eating oatmeal in the morning will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted.  You will never want to go home, but miss it with all your heart.  I could never do this again, but in my head, and for the rest of my life I will be doing it daily.

– Dave Arman

there’s no place like home

Posted May 27, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  I’ve been putting this off for a while now.  I finished my trip and am now back home.  I’ve sat down in front of the computer a few times to write this put I just wasn’t able to.  I think that writing the final blog entry makes the trip done in a way that it wasn’t before.  But no avoiding it any longer, I’m home.  The finish line was incredible, Jess was there to congratulate me, everyone was insanely excited, and I was able to finally give away my damn helmet.  We stayed in Cape Town for almost a week.  We visited wine country (not terribly exciting if you don’t drink, but beautiful nonetheless), we went to the Cape of Good Hope, we took the cable car up Table Mountain, and went on a fake safari (it was kinda safari light, there were wild animals, but the area was all fenced in and they knew exactly how many animals there were).  Then it was onto a plane to get back home.  It’s good to be home (god I’ve missed bagels and pizza).  Today I went on a bike ride the way god intended (stupid haircut, no helmet, no brakes, lots of traffic).  It felt awesome, even if I couldn’t remember how to ride a fixie for a little bit.  I’ve been making some calls, sorry if I haven’t gotten to ya yet, you’re next on the list, I swear.  I can’t stop playing on the computer and watching crap on tv, for some reason I can’t watch the first few episodes of the final season of Lost (if anybody knows an executive at ABC please do me a favor and punch them in the nose as hard as you can).  I wrote a thing for the TDA website that I’ll include here for a final wrap up. I’ll also figure out how to add pictures.  Thanks very much for following along on my journey.

love

dave

alright Goat, help me out with the line from Vacation about the Grand Canyon

Posted May 9, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  So yesterday we camped at Fish River.  I guess they don’t spend too much time thinking about what to call things around here in Namibia, Dune 45, Fish River.  The campsite was alright, nothing too great, but it was near Fish River Canyon.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of Fish River Canyon (I certainly hadn’t) but it’s apperantly the second largest canyon in the world.  It was a 10k bike ride from camp to the canyon.  Many people waited for one of the trucks to come take them, but I elected to ride there (I certainly don’t seem to get enough bike riding in on a normal day).  I am very glad I did.  It was a quiet dusty, crappy road to ride along and most of it was uphill.  However once I got there I was able to ride my bike up the little path and all the way out to the viewing point.  If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon then you know how annoying all the tourist can be there (even if you haven’t been there, ya can probably guess).  I was the only one there.  It was incredible.  After peeing into it (this was kinda unavoidable) I sat as close to the edge as I dared and just stared.  I couldn’t get over the immensity of the thing.  How can a huge hole in the ground be that majestic?  I later heard that all the people who rode the truck to it stayed together and didn’t go all the way up the path.  Yet another reason for always riding your bike everywhere.  That is all for now, we’re riding into S. Africa tomorrow, and then only a few more days till Cape Town!

love

dave

now the world is gone, I’m just 10

Posted May 9, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  Yet more decathlon fun for y’all.  Our next event, the locker pack.  Every morning we have to pack up all our worldly belongings and shove them into tiny lockers.  Some people are pretty good at this and are in and out of the truck fairly rapidly.  Others you need to go get some oatmeal, because it’s gonna be a while.  We found an unoccupied (or so we thought, sorry Jeff and Diane) locker and set out to find some stuff to throw into it.  Sunil collected random things from people whilst I tried to see if it would all fit.  I also assigned a point value to each item so that the things that couldn’t be fit would count against folks.  There were tires to put in, a bike rack, bags, tarps, and a hard sided computer case.  The bigger the item the more points it was worth.  Somehow or another G-force (or team Indaba) managed to win yet another contest.  This one I have no clue on, since all of us do this daily and G has never packed one of these lockers in his life.  I’m a little embarressed for all of us (and secretly proud that I wasn’t one of the ones doing the packing).  Stay tuned for for decathlon updates, and maybe a note or two about Africa.

love

dave

I am 10 as you are 3

Posted May 3, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  Alright this is a double helping of TDA decathlon fun.  Today we had both the coke chugging and the PVM eating competitions.  The coke Chugging was simple, start with an unopened can of your favorite carbonated beverage in front of you.  Both hands on the table on either side of it.  When the timer says go, open the can down it and turn it upsidedown on the table when you are done.  This was  a fun and slightly messy competition.  I liked it because there was virtually no settup for it.  The winner was Stuart, I don’t have all the data.  Sunil is making a spreadsheet with everyone’s standings in it, I think it might be on his blog which is geekonabike.com (or something pretty close to that).  The next contest was the PVM bar eating.  If you are lucky enough never to have eaten a PVM bar, you are fortunate indeed.  They are energy bars that taste slightly like laffy taffy, but aren’t as good and don’t have jokes on the wrappers.  TDA gives them to us and they are good for energy, but not much else.  We decided that since under normal conditions they take roughly an hour to eat one, we should make it more difficult.   So we froze them.  It didn’t slow people down that much Simon managed to down his in 40 or 50 seconds.  I don’t have a clue how he managed that.  That is all for now, I think the next competition is throwing a rock at an Ethiopian child.

love

dave

Tell me of your home world Usul

Posted May 3, 2010 by davearman
Categories: Uncategorized

Howdy.  We are still in Sossusvlei Namibia right now.  There’s not a lot to do here, two lodges and a gas station and that’s it.  Last night Jacob, Troy, Sunil and I rode our bikes to the nearest sand dune, climbed it and saw the sunset.  It was breathtaking (literally, those things are big).  We didn’t know how one was supposed to get there, so we rode as the crow flies.  We went over bushes and through deep grass, and generally had a fun ride.  We also discovered that there was a road that leads directly from camp to the sand dune.  On the way back we tried that and found it to be much easier going.  This morning my alarm went off at 3:45 to get up to go to some bigger and better dunes (this is not an acceptable time to get up, bars in NYC don’t even close by then).  There were two dunes that we drove to, the smaller one and Big Papa.  Most of the group climbed the smaller one because they wanted to see the sunrise and didn’t think they could get all the way up Big Papa before it happened.  They were right, I climbed the big one, didn’t get a great sunrise view, but did get a spectacular view of all the rest of the dunes.  We sat up there for half an hour or so just looking around.  Climbing up dunes kinda sucks, but getting down is incredible.  You just jump, and then jump again.  It took us 45 minutes to an hour to get up the thing and roughly 10 to get back down.  All in all I’d have to say it was a pretty damn good day.  Oh, congrats to Monique and Chris, sorry I wasn’t able to be there for the big day.

love

dave


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