Thursday, October 22, 2009

Night Ride

Last night I went on my first night ride up in Tilden Park with my new Magicshine light. From what I can tell, its straight from China and distributed in the US by some random interwebscompany at BUT, it was cheap, $100 for the light and tax and shipping and handling. The light lasted for at least an hour and a half on full brightness, though the website claims it should last for 3 hours. Even better, the battery is smaller than my fist, so I can mount it right underneath my stem.

It was awesome. I can't wait until next Wednesday to ride at night again, up in Redwood Park and Joaquin Miler Park.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Africa photos are up!

I've posted my favorite photos from Africa (Ghana/Burkina Faso/Mali) up on Facebook. You can check out them out here:

Still getting settled back in Berkeley, enjoying Joanna's good coffee and my room again. I'm pretty glad I only have three weeks until school starts, because I don't think I could spend much more time than that just sitting around doing nothing.

I've been able to ride the past three days in a row, and my legs are tired. I think I lost a lot of muscle, because after each ride it feels like I've just been to the gym and did a workout, as opposed to just being exhausted. Gotta get into a tiny bit of shape in the next week, because Daan and I are going to Moab, Utah and Boulder, CO on Monday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Well rested and back at Alia's family's house in the bay area. Surprisingly, we didn't have any flight delays, missed connections, or lost luggage in four flights yesterday. Imagine that! United did a pretty good job and the American personnel definitely felt friendlier than European airports.

This afternoon I am headed back to Berkeley, assessing the situation, and probably going to try to move back into my apartment over the next two days. Last time I moved in, it took at least six months to fully unpack everything. This time... I have a month until school starts, hopefully I can get rid of all of the boxes by then.

Time to think about school. What classes to take, what professors to try to get to be my adviser, and what to actually try to focus research in.

Can't wait to get home and ride my bike!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

46 Degrees baby

Thats right. Its 46 degrees here in Marrakech today. Take that you people from Arizona. Take that you people from China. Unless you are from Burkina Faso or Mali, you can never say its hot again.

Today it is hot. For those too lazy to convert, 46 degrees is 115 Fahrenheit. Yikes.

Tomorrow we fly to the cool clime of Madrid.

The next day we fly to cooler yet San Francisco, by way of Frankfurt, Boston, and Chicago. Homeward bound!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Essaouria, Morocco

Today we decided we were well enough to hop on the bus over to Essaouaria, the coastal hippie-ish town only two hours from Marrakech.

The town has feelings of Berkeley; urine smell (though this is present in most of the Moroccan cities we have been to), people strung out on drugs, waterfront views, and a few bums to top it off.

We were "greeted" by some well-wishers after getting off the bus, and halfway into the medina a man offered to take us to a hotel that had "cheap rooms" at 150 Dirham for a double (about 15 Euro). We were headed for a hotel mentioned in our Lonely Planet Guide, but it was likely full and listed at not much cheaper, so we were willing to take a look. Very cute place, with an ocean view from the room, and a different color theme on each floor. Ever been to Jacob and Isaac's house in Santa Barbara?

Answers to yesterdays quiz:
1. Definitely dehydrated. Only 1.5 liters of water and two small sodas are NOT enough for 8 hours of hiking. Oops, I should know better. Unlikely altitude sickness, I didnt start to feel bad until back under 3000m, unless there is some odd time delay. And the bottom part of the hike was so hot I felt like I wanted to climb in a nearby aquaduct to cool off. Not sure about the bacteria but...

2. The cipro seems to have fixed me. I feel nearly completely better now, my appetite is back. Either that or it was just slow rehydration that helped. Or the bug passed on...

3. to Alia! But she didnt seem to get as sick as me and is definitely feeling better too.

Lastly, is there anything anyone wants me to buy for them either in Morocco or Spain that they can't get in the states or is cheaper/better here? Shoot me an e-mail.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jebel Toubkal

Yes, I am now in the 4000m club, with the summit at 4167m.

Alia and I couldn't even find the trail from the refuge the day before in the daytime, we knew it would be difficult at night. The refuge is this big stone cabin where most trekkers spend the night before summiting, as we did too (at least until our 2:30am departure.) Made the summit in time to view the sunrise, and incredibly glad we hired a guide to take us in the dark. And it was all downhill from there.

And now time for a mini-quiz!

Multiple choice:

1. What ailments did Stephen have starting halfway down and until the next morning?
a) altitude sickness
b) bacteria gone wild
c) dehydration
d) excessive exposure to the heat
e) alllll of the above

2. What drugs has Stephen tried to cure himself?
a) advil
b) immodium
c) ciproflaxin
d) pepto bismol
e) all of the above (though not immodium and cipro at the same time because that is bad)

3. Stephen has gotten Alia sick (true/false)
4. Lance Armstrong is the man (true)

Six days to go!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ouarzazate--Ait Ben Haddou--Ouarzazate; 64km

64 kilometers today, mostly flat. The legs felt a lot better than they did over the past few rides, 60 days of rest likely helped a bit.

We rented bikes from a place in Ouarzazate, a town on the other side of the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech. The city is roughly 200km, 5 hours by bus away; a trip mainly of going up and over a massive mountain pass, at least 7000ft elevation gain to the top. The route the bus took would make for a great stage of a pro bike race, if they could close down the road and get the traffic off.

Our ride was on the amazing 80 dirham Target bike: generator headlamp, dual fenders, rear rack. Pretty much the perfect commuter bike. We set off by 7am to avoid the traffic, as the Moroccan day doesnt really get started until after 9am. Got to Ait Ben Haddou by 10:00. You have probably seen the city before; the main tourist attraction was the kasbah, used in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, and Gladiator.

Very cool. By lingering around at the top of the hill and taking in the scenery, the Chef of the UNESCO restoration project invited us to the very top of the Kasbah. Hesitant at first--trained by West Africa to believe anyone doing anything for you expects payment--we were pleasantly surprised to recieve hot fresh mint tea, an explanation of the construction project, and hospitality. Ahmed has three sons and lives in Ouarzazate, he also heads another project near Asni, where we will pass through tomorrow. For payment, just a handshake.

The weather behaved through the afternoon; clouds rolled in to keep us cool for the slightly downhill ride home.

Things that are making me love Morocco so far:
*all day bike ride
*delicious sweets around every corner for a quarter a piece
*5 dollar haircut, including the use of a straight blade razor for all the details
*10 dollar hotel room big enough to sleep three people
*hospitality not found in Spain or West Africa.

This hospitality is great
*tour at the top of the kasbah
*restaurant owner letting us store the bikes at the side of his house
*adjacent store owner offering to look after the bikes when we tried to return them and the place was closed.
*free extra OJ from a stand because we were a repeat customer

and did I mention the desserts?

Tomorrow: headed off to Imlil to climb Jebel Toubkal the following days.