Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Camel Crossing!

“DUDE, LOOK OUT!!!” This is not the proclamation you hope to hear from the lead rider of an eight-person paceline, when you are riding toward the back. I jerked up at about 20k into our ride across Sudan today, expecting road debris, glass or a rogue Toyota threatening our happy paceline. Instead, we saw a camel casually making its way across the road. I’m not sure whether the camel was the “DUDE” or whether we were the “DUDES,” but it was yet another hilarious and friendly reminder of how out of place we are in the African desert.

We have been enduring long days and 110 degree heat in the afternoons during our past week of cycling. It is so intense that the staff actually moved our breakfast time earlier so we can pedal as much road as possible before the heat of the day strikes around noon. As a side note, the food on the tour has been quite tasty- breakfast usually consists of a bowl of some sort of warm mush doused in sugar, plus occasional luxeries such as yogurt, grapefruit or nutella. My definition of “luxury items” has shifted from bags and shoes (ahhh Manhattan) to chocolate bars and fresh rolls of toilet paper (ahhh Africa). I am indeed a new woman on this tour!

Given the heat, I have been absolutely unrelentling about leaving camp early, which has earned me the nickname “the Captain” from my Canadian riding bud Steph. I’d like to think that this is a tribute to my natural leaderships skills…Steph has been quick to inform me that in reality, I’m just bossy 🙂 We are on the road by 7:15am every morning and if someone needs five more minutes to go to the bathroom or eat a banana, well, he or she can pedal like mad to catch up! I am very pleased to inform you that Steph learned this rule the hard way.

Our ride today was a good example of how expectations are utterly and completely worthless in Africa. We had been dreading today- it was the longest day of the week in terms of mileage, after two long, hot previous days and nights in desert camps. Desert camp is a synonym for pulling off on the side of the road and camping on a sand dune in the absolute middle of nowhere. I am loving it- despite the ubiquitous sand stretching from the horizon all the way down to every crack and crevice in my tent, the view of the stars at night is worth the desolation. When we started our hardest day of the week this morning, three small African miracles happened: 1. we all felt good; 2. the kilometers flew by; and 3. We had a tailwind! Of all the natural phenomena we have dealt with on this trip (freak thunderstorms, sandstorms, flooding, headwinds, cold nights, etc.), the tailwind has been the most elusive! We enjoyed a few coke stops, I was able to pick up the pace in the afternoon, and despite our initial dread, enjoyed the best sun on your face wind in your hair day of total freedom and bliss on the bike.

We arrived at camp this afternoon and after the usual process of stretching, setting up my campsite, eating soup and taking a “shower” with baby wipes, we all just kind of collapsed in a hapless circle of warm bodies. We were so lethargic, we could barely talk to one another let alone read or blog! Camel crossings, extreme heat and altered expectations…this is Africa by bike! About 100k to go tomorrow (including a 20k time trial) to our next rest day and long-anticipated real shower in Khartoum, Sudan’s controversial capital city.


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