Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mountain Biking in Omo Forest, November 8 (and Bob's trip in March)

Friend Jonathan arranged a Nigerian Field Society trip to go mountain biking in Omo Forest, located east of Lagos, about a 3 hour drive away. At about 7AM, a group of about 14 of us headed out in a convoy with Nigerian Police in the vehicles to help us get through the many check points (15+) where Nigerian Police try to get money from almost every vehicle that passes. "Anything for the weekend?" I hate it but on one hand they get paid so poorly, I don't blame them. I believe it is these check points and the bad roads that keep most Nigerians from traveling around their own country, other than going to their village and back, and when they can fly, they do. We have to travel with Nigerian Police in our car outside of Lagos and we are happy to have them as they get us right through the check points with no hassle (usually).
The drive was uneventful, though I was happy to have friends in the car who enjoyed reminiscing and listening to music from the 1980s, especially the metal (hair) bands! It was fun!
The goal was to ride to Omo Camp (~15km), eat lunch, then ride back. Because we got off to a slow start (Ilsa and Rob decided to add on some distance to their ride by taking the wrong road) and the crowd was not as fast as Jonathan had anticipated. Jonathan has got to be the fittest person I know and his estimates of how long a ride will take and the level of exertion are usually a bit underestimated! I was just OK but not all participants were in as good of shape as me (and I have not done much cardio since I tore a tendon in my foot training for the half marathon earlier this year) and did not have as much mountain biking experience. It is pretty flat around Lagos and most people think that when you travel outside of Lagos, it is also flat. Well that is not the case as Omo forest has hills. The route we took was a Jeep road, though it is mostly used by Okadas (motorcycles). Our driver served as the SAG wagon for about half of the ride but then had to stop as the bridge was washed out. About half of the group made it about half way to the iron bridge and we rode on another 5 km (3km short of the camp) before stopping for a snack and turning around.  Here are some pictures:

The road...

Hmmm...  was it a good idea to go so soon after the rainy season ended?!  Me riding through one of the many water holes, some do depe your feet get soaked.

The washed out bridge with Rob standing on the other side (hard to see, I know).  The small picture is of me and Ilsa and was taken by Rob.

This was the bypass route, that we and the okadas use.  No more vehicle travel past this point.

The iron bridge over a river.  In front is Ilsa, Rob and Sharon.


Overall it was a great trip. I met some new people, got in some good exercise, and got outside of Lagos. Unfortunately Bob missed out on this trip as he was in Houston. He had done this one before in March of this year, while I stayed home to get some work done.

Here are some pics from the earlier trip in March 2009, in the dry season.

Kevin, Bob, Jonathan and their guard.

The main bridge in March 2009, which was completely washed out in November.

One of the bridges in March 2009.
I don't recall seeing this one so it must have been beyond where we rode.

Omo Camp - Folks have camped here in the past but now that the bridges are washed out, it would take a bit of effort to get there with our stuff and water.

The standard transportation on these roads, an okada (motorcycle).


Meredith said...

Extrememly cool! Glad you were safe! XOXO

rabiel said...

Very interesting. But it doesn't look much like the Houston to Austin route I did with you guys !!