Monday, October 09, 2006

Accra to Aburi

by bike in a day. SJD and I have heard that Aburi will be our best best for real mountainbiking around Accra. Accra seems rather flat and congested surrounded by more flatness - not the best combination for trail riding. Aburi lies about 30km north of Accra on the top of a low mountain range. We set out early Sunday morning on commuter bikes with the intenion of riding to Aburi, and just turning around.

All was going well the first hour on the roads. The tro-tros didn't run us off the road. A Ghanaian rode along with us for a mile or so chatting away about Aburi and his bike...I think. Eventually the pavement ended at a barricade and a small kiosk. Out pops a Ghana Police to ask where we're headed. Aburi we assure him. By bike? Yes, by bike. Why? Because. He pointed out that the road ahead was under construction. A moment later a construction type guy ( I can spot them) appeared. Same two questions/answers... He says we can ride through if we're careful. We nod to each other to be careful and proceed around the barricade and up the gravel switchbacks. The road climb offered nice valley views and a good workout.

Fast forward a few miles to the top in Ketase where we stop for a quick drink. The kiosk owner pulls out two plastic chairs for us. Very nice. A knock on the adjacent kiosk window produces two bottles of Coke from an eight year old girl. We quite the object of attention of the local kids. At one point, a little guy appears from around the corner. He stops dead in his tracks seeing SJD and me in bike helmets and garish (SJD disputes the use of garish to describe her tasteful lavender jersey) shirts. He retreats quickly to his friends.

Back on our bikes we finish the final 5km to Aburi for our turn around point. A small tour company operates out of the end of town. We'll be sure to return.

Heading back south through Ketase to Accra we near the same construction zone from the north end. Construction workers have gathered, and we assume it must be the end of the day. SJD snaps this picture.

Just your average road sign warning of "unpredictable inconveniences." That could mean a lot of things in Ghana, but in this case it seemed to mean "blasting". Luckily a more diligent Ghana Police officer stops us from proceeding further. The options appear to be wait until blasting stops, or take a bypass. We bypass not entirely certain where or how we'll get back into Accra. The road is full of pot holes and rolls along the ridge a while before dropping back into the valley. Our map does not agree with the towns we're passing through. Names are spelled differently. Roads connect differently. Villages are not even mentioned. In the end the bypass is somewhat unpredictable, but conveniently funnels us back to a familiar intersection near home. We arrive at our house tired, thirsty and dusty.

I stopped by the Mapping and Surveying Bureau today to pick up a more accurate map. It is really amazing the misinformation provided by the tourist maps. Someone could ignore all warning signs and bypasses and simply wander into a blasting zone.


gwadzilla said...

I have a feeling that there is no shortage of open area....


that is your first project

after that

you can get IMBA on making some trails for you

after the pump course and some interested locals riding with pleasure on the single speeds you built them


then you can enlist them to aid in creating a mountain bike specific trails


nicomachus said...

I just found your site via gwadzilla. I lived (and biked) in Accra 9 years ago, so I'll be following your experience closely. Have fun, and indulge in the world's best pineapple.


Leanne said...

Yes! That's the same road! :-) I must say I have a mountain bike in Accra, but mostly because I like the shocks. I can't imagine doing that road without a car, but it sounds like a good trip for you.

The area north of Accra to the Lake is some of my favorite Ghana-ness, although the Volta Region is where I feel most loved and welcomed.