Wry and I have hatched a plan for December to ride into Tanzania and climb Oldonyo Lengai, the silliest mountain in East Africa. It’s a semi-active volcano smack-dab in the middle of the plains south of Lake Natron. The sides of this thing are steep dust and scree, there are no switchbacks, and you just basically have to muscle your way up it in the dark and tumble down it again in the heat. For whatever reason, that appeals to us, so it’s planned. In the meantime, I need saddle time and some cross training, so I grabbed Brain (who will also be coming with us) and we set off down the valley to combine a bit of biking and hiking. Of to Mt. Longonot! Above: Morning on the XRs with the fog toupee over the Ngongs and the new tar road in the distance. Above: We followed the new railway for quite a while before joining the new tarmac road construction dirt superhighway. It’s all different now. The railroad feels like a DMZ, some long, impenetrable thing slicing through what only 5 years ago was empty bush. Giraffes will be trapped on one side or the other permanently. Above: After the dirt superhighway where I reached 145kph just because, we played hunt-and-peck to connect ourselves over to Mai-Maheiu, crossing under high-tension wires and wire fences that also weren’t there 5 years back. After a quick shot up the tarmac, we arrived at the Longonot gate where we changed into walking gear. The four or five guys in olive drab waved us around to park under the shade, which was nice, but the VIP treatment vanished when I got to pay full fare for entrance… I’d grabbed my son’s passport instead of my own that morning and the guy wouldn’t believe I was resident. Above: XRs and wildlife bones… both endangered species Above: At Longonot Rim. To put things in perspective, Google Earth shows that this hike was 3km long with an average slope of 14% and some concrete steps in places. We handled it well, but Lengai’s hike will be twice as long with an average slope of 35%, and deep sand and scree in place of concrete when the going gets tough. Still, I can’t wait. The day we have planned will be a 100% full moon and the hike begins at midnight after a 300km ride… HERE is a link to Xpat's experience there back when he was just a wee lass. Above: Brain enjoying a cold Coke. I definitely want to come back to Longonot a few more times before the trip. We trotted back down the hill, passing a church group of Kenyans who looked like they were being broiled alive, donned our riding kit again and headed out for Mayer’s Ranch. We’d been invited for lunch and a tour of the Bateleur Brewery. It’s a place carved out of time, full of colonial history and beautifully maintained. A spring runs through the garden and trees teem with Sykes monkeys and song birds. Lunch was fantastic, and the brewery tour was great and ended with a wee tasting session with the Master Brewer. Above: The Mayer’s grounds Above: Brain soaks his sweaty feet in the spring Above: Bateleur Brewery is probably Kenya’s best (and newest) craft breweries. Above: Brain in his fancy hat (don’t want to be spreading little curly ginger hairs all over the place) sampling beer straight out of the cooling tanks with the Master Brewer, a lady who really knows good beer. After our tour, it was time to hit the road. We rattled over the fairly horrible road out of Mayer’s, past a huge stone quarry where men with chisels hand cut foundation stones from the Earth. From Ewaso Kedong, it was a lovely, late afternoon rip up the road to Saikeri where the Friday Masai Market was in full swing - shukas and sheep shining in the sunlight. Finally, we re-connected with the soon-to-be tar road and it hit me hard. If you put a tar road through it, it ceases to be remote. A tar road means progress and people, cars and more litter. It’s inevitable, but hard to accept. Above: Stone quarry… the men who work in that puppy are made of tougher stuff than I Above: Fun, flowing tracks after the pounding of the stony, dumptruck-clogged road clogged Above: I don’t know when that Lutheran school opened (top), but it seems just a bit out of place… for now. Above: A perennial favourite escape track. I was relieved to see the new tar road doesn’t come this way. Above: Windmills on the Ngongs (with plans for expansion, and rumoured to soon have a 300 person “eco” hotel as well), high- and low-tension power lines, barbed wire fences and tar roads. So it goes.