Tim and Bruce are cycling from Cairo To Cape Town for charity, their website is Cycle2Learn.org and they are doing it to build 2 classrooms for a rural school in the Eastern Cape. They have currently raised R85,000 out of their target of R180,000. They started on the 10th January 2009.
15 February, Day 33
Rest day in Addis Ababa
We had no idea what to expect out of Addis Ababa, but have been pleasantly surprised. It seems backward to me, as in all my travels I’ve found the people in the rural areas to be the nicest and those in the cities to be hardened, less open and less friendly. However, the opposite seems true for Addis, a friendly city set within a valley with steep slopes, lots of trees and wide, clean streets. Walking around town is the first time in weeks that we’ve been able to walk amongst locals and not feel like a celebrities hounded by the locals asking for money, food and my new favourite – pens.
People here are relaxed, friendly and open. We’ve just returned from a shopping/lunch excursion through downtown. Our shopping list was comprehensive and included our usual: bog roll, chocolate chip cookies, mocha cookies, hot chocolate, peanuts and of course snickers (two each) – at least we’re eating a well rounded diet on our rest day!
We went from café to café sampling the amazing coffees and cakes they have here. The day got even better as we found doughnuts, ice cream, Super 14 Rugby Highlights, and of course our very favourite – the layered fruit juices! Aside from trying to explore our rest stops as much as possible, our rest days are also quite intensive in terms of laundry, continual bike maintenance, and our email updates back to you all – which can sometimes be quite a trying experience with the dismal connection speeds we’ve come across in some towns!
16 February, Day 34
108km Addis Ababa to Bush Camp
Another 108km of rolling, beautiful Ethiopian hills in the legs, and we’re feeling strong! However, about 12 riders and staff members, are not in great shape, having succumbed to the fever-diarrhea bug which has raised its ugly head again. It’s one thing feeling completely awful with all the creature comforts of home, it’s an entirely different story when you’re trying to ride through Africa.
Some have been hit so badly that riding wasn’t even an option today, and they simply had to ride in the support trucks, others, who were slightly stronger, stuck it out on the bike to maintain their EFI (Every Fucking Inch) status. Sickness aside, life on the Tour is magical. I’ve seen countless sunrises as I roll my tent up in the morning. I’ve met, ate and drank with the friendliest people who had no reason to be friendly to me whatsoever.
I’ve hit 72km/h and I’ve grinded in granny gear at 5km/h. I’ve smiled at complete strangers and they’ve smiled back, and I’ve seen the sun set each and every day. These are the things that wash away the grime, sweat, stink, pain and sickness that I’ve also experienced, and which I will no doubt experience again before we finish in Cape Town on the 9th of May.
17 February, Day 34
128km Bush Camp 1 to Bush Camp 2
Today started somewhat controversially… As a bit of back ground, Tim and I never came here to race down Africa, we signed up for the race solely on the grounds that you can always pull out later so you might as well start racing if there was even a remote chance of you being competitive. Many people have pulled out since Cairo, half at least. Our attitude has been that we’re timed participants not racers, we’re here to see and experience Africa not stare at someone’s rear wheel as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
So far our strategy has worked well and we haven’t succumbed to the tempt of pulling out of the race. To me there’s no rule that says you have to win or even be competitive in order to be a racer, just someone that enjoys the competitive spirit of the event. We’ve had our good days with a number of 3rd places, but they’ve been entirely dependent on the day’s conditions and health of the other racers.
Today’s race was from camp to lunch and due to start as always at 7:30, slightly later than we prefer to leave on non race days as we like to ride in the cooler weather. One person had a flat before the race start, the start was delayed a little under 15 minutes then eventually started without the rider with the flat and his girl friend (she had been helping with the tyre change).
At camp the two were a little upset that the race was started without them, they felt hard done by and hadn’t raced hard as they felt that the situation was unfair – it’s far easier to ride as a group in a Peloton as you can get pulled along by the front riders, who rotate about every 5 minutes. I write this solely as we’ve never mentioned the race apart from the occasional result.
The issue with the two racers with the flat tyre hasn’t been resolved yet – another meeting is required tomorrow morning. I find it a little amusing how seriously people are taking the race and fascinating watching the group dynamics as allegiances are forged, arguments had, and peoples’ attitudes change all while we’re meant to be here enjoying ourselves in Africa.
A short word on the day’s ride, it was a tough day with lots of climbs mostly after lunch though most happily the 138km days distance was in fact shorter (only 128km) due to the rider, whose GPS data is used, taking a few excursions on the day last year to find a crater lake. Both Tim and I are in high spirits though we’ve both got a scratchy throat, tomorrow is meant to be a true diamond in the rough – an easier day as we’re starting to descend down to Kenya… whooooooo hoooooo!
18 February, Day 35
118km Bush Camp 2 to Bush Camp 3
First half of the day was as easy as pie, thanks to a wicked downhill out of the mountains. The second half of the day, however, was a little more trying, thanks to a persistent headwind and one monster of a climb which was lined with irritating kids. At the top of the monster we found the busy town of Sodo, and pulled into a local café for a much-needed Coke, a local donut and or course, a Macchiato coffee.
From Sodo the road literally fell apart and we had 30km of dodging axel-breaking potholes – it was a fantastic bit of biking which suited our Scott hardtails beautifully! Once in camp we went through the usual motions of rehydrating, tent set-up, bike cleaning, stretching and of course the favourite part of the day, inhaling dinner! As we ate, the clouds steadily built around us and looked rather ominous for sometime, and as I write this from the comfort of my tent, the first drops of rain have begun to fall…. With a bit of luck, our Cape Union Mart tents will do all the things they are supposed to do and keep the rain at bay… if not, tonight could be an interesting one….
19 February, Day 36
108km Bush Camp 3 to Arba Minch
Another race day (camp to lunch), and we continued on the extremely poor road going downhill – it was awesome. We hit a snag, however, at about 5km out of camp as Tim realised he’d forgotten his Camel Back. He decided to return back to camp whilst I continued on slowly (which was no problem given that I was still feeling ill). The road was poor all the way to lunch and the kids were on top form. The best word to describe the effect we have on the kids as we pass by is “hysteria“.
The first few riders through cause the hysteria, the kids are so excited, sprinting to the road shouting, screaming, and generally just going insane. By the time the last few riders come past, the kids have been setup at the road for a while and are starting to get frustrated – I assume due to the lack of attention from tired riders or the lack of a hand-out. As a result, and as the day progresses, the hysteria quickly turns to madness.
To get your attention/stand out from the crowd they resort to things like throwing stones, trying to shove sticks into your spokes, pulling silly faces, stupid comments, slapping (or just trying to touch you), trying to open your Camel Back or saddle bag, and even using hand-catties to catapult stones into you! Today’s kids were made worse for us as we were amongst the last few riders for the day and by now they were seriously aggressive – which gets a little worrying when the machetes start making an appearance with threatening glares in tow!
Certainly the kids have a negative effect on your day, but we always try to keep in mind they are only children and acting the only way they know. Apart from the kids the day went okay, the road improved closer to Arba Minch and we were able to get into camp early and find a shady camp spot, though riddled with thorns… Showers were had, it had been a solid 4 days since our last access to any sort of excess water, and the shower can only be described as heavenly. Tyres were then changed in preparation for the next few week’s of riding – described as the toughest on tour… by far… bugger!
- Cycling from Cairo to Cape Town, why?
- Cycling from Cairo to Cape Town for charity: Days 45 – 49
- Cycling from Cairo to Cape Town for charity – Days 29 – 32
- Cycling from Cairo to Cape Town for charity – Days 38 – 44 (cracked ribs and all!)
- Cycle2Learn – Lilongwe to Victoria Falls
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