Thursday, January 21, 2010

What A Long Bike Race

Continuing from the initial email from Rod , The duo are now into the race Tour D'Afrique .Rod sent a short email about the first 3 stages .

Hey gang sorry we did not email you before we left but the email at the hotel was down the night before we left. Here is the email I was going to send on January 15:

"This is our last night in Cairo. WE have been living off of local street food for the last week and are loving it. Fresh pita bread, felafels, koshery (lentils, rice, pasta with sauce), fuuel (refried beans), bottled water. The main reason is because the street food is so tasty but also it is 1/10 the price of the food in the hotel.
We leave in the morning a 6am and our race #'s are 101 and 102. As I am sure you can imagine the air is electric with excitement, anxiety and trepidation. Surprisingly, we are both quite calm; definitely calmer then some.
We are both healthly and ready to start. Our next rest day is Luxor in a week, will try to email you then."

Today is January 19, we are camping at a hotel on the beach, some have gotten rooms for the night; all got showers. I have showered for the first time since Cairo and washed a few clothes. We now recap the last few days since we left Cairo.

Jan 16 - Got up fricking early like 4:30am, convoy to the pryamids, presentations, photos, convoy out of Cairo - so slow. It took about 4.5 hours to cover 43Km. Once the convoy was over the race was one and the fast boys flew down the road, we did a moderate pace holding about 30km/h and they left us. We had a small group 5-7 people working well together and in the end Juliana won the stage for the women in a sprint. The day was 128k and we rode for 5:57. That night was a desert camp.

Jan 17 - This was the long distance day 165km - 6:37. We were again in a decent group to lunch doing just over 30km/h. We did have to stop once for a pinch flat, the result of hitting a pot hole. After lunch we hit a strong head wind with 60km to go and were reduced to 15km/h and working fairly hard as a group of 4. Gizzy won the stage for the women by about a bike length again in a sprint. This was also a desert camp. The heavens opened throwing wind, rain, hail, lightening and hunder at us. Apperently, quite rare - I feel lucky to have witnessed it. About 20 people lost EFI status today. We did not sleep well. Again he front group of males was no were to be seen - I think about an hour ahead of us.

Jan 18 - 145k - 4:38. The winds changed and pushed us to the next desert camp. Because of the rain the police stopped us at a check point and would not let us continue. The staff did some negiotiations and 30 minutes later we were off. The interesting thing in Egypt is that tourisms is 40% of their GNP so they really want tourists (us) to be safe, so we have been escorted the entire time by police (at least 3 cars), who also arrange for night security to watch over us - everone of them is armed. This camp ended up to be 10km further down the road then planned due to some flooding concerns so the day ended with a 10km neutral zone - no racing. Juliana won the stage for the women by a bike length, uncontested. This night the wind was crazy strong. We could not put the fly on or close the doors as the force of the wind would collapse the tent. We curled up in our bags but the wind whipping over us was freezing. To solve this we wrapped the tent fly anround the outside of our bags - nice and toasty.

Jan 18 - 83k, 3:03. The winds were not as strong as yesterday but still at our backs. We rolled into Safaga at about 10:30. The group we roded with today was defintely resting, just what we needed. Did alittle bike maintenance but bikes and us are in good shape.

We will try to email again from Luxor - Friday.

Rod and Juliana

The second email:

Hey gang

Some of you have figured out that their are twitter updates. For those of you who haven't there are directions on the Tour Blog. Please note that the results on the tour site are wrong. I am guessing that I am about 5th or 6th; Juliana and Gizzy are tied for 1st female, with the same time and 3 wins a piece.

Today is January 21 and we rode 95km from a desert camp into Luxor in just under 3hrs. The group we were riding with was 9 people strong with a few other hangers-on that did not last. So we got to camp at 10am, set-up camp, showered, ate, then ate some more and now email. Today, Gizzy won but it was uncontested with everyone in the group (Gizzy and Juliana) getting the same time. The lead group was about 15 minutes ahead.

Yesterday, we left Safaga and rode 138km at 22.5km/h - it was a hard day. The first 40km was uphill, I mean all uphill not a single flat or downhill section. Granted it was a gradual climb of 2% but still it just went on and on. Also, I woke up feeling pretty bad - stomach trouble but by lunch (65km) it had sorted itself out. After lunch it was down hill at 2% but with a crazy headwind that more then nullified any descending benefit. Juliana won this staged, uncontested. Once again we were the second group on the rode. The fast group had some dramas today with Marcel breaking a spoke. I think he realises that his wheel choice is not a good one - his front wheel has 18 spokes and the back has 24 - compared to everyone else running 32 or 36 spokes. (larger number = stronger).

It is fair to say that everyone is glad to have a rest day. Time to recovery alittle, bike maintenance, wash, eat sweets and recharge batteries.

We are feeling good.

Rod and Juliana

Definitely wish I was there and it possibly is a ride worth considering. I may not be able to do the whole ride but some of the stages look amazing.