I waved goodbye to the Tele Café in the piazza of Gondar, where I’d enjoyed many a delightfully-spicy breakfast or pint of mango juice. I was about to experience a magnificent ride through the soaring highlands of north-central Ethiopia. As I rolled out of town towards the green valleys below, however, I was nervous.
Aside from the threat of ill-health making an unwanted comeback, my nerves came from reading too many journals. Those writing about cycling in Ethiopia were far from complimentary – “the single most difficult place I’ve ever cycled because of the human factor”, “the worst roads I’ve ever ridden”, “the mountains were the largest I’d yet encountered”, and so on.
At least one couple I met on the road had resolved that they would never go to Ethiopia, based on their reading of an account of travelling the country that Alastair Humphreys penned in the first part of his round-the-world travelogue Moods of Future Joys, a book which I read whilst planning this journey back in 2006. It was a contributing factor to my initial rejection of Africa as part of my trip, until last year I realised it would be much more sensible to form my own opinions.