Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tour D'Afrique

Hi gang

First the results for Juliana's blood work (trying to figure out why she passed out in Gondar) show that nothing is out of the norm.

Second, thanks for all of the words of encouragement - they are most welcome and useful. It is so great to hear from the world outside of our bedouin camp.

Feb 23 - to Lake camp - 97km, 3:34. The first 19 k out of Addis Ababa was convoy and then we had a pretty quick ride to camp - the last 77k took 2:30, not bad considering Juiana was quite ill last night. Today was great - fast riding, sunny, BBQ for dinner and camped by a lake. The down side is that we had to call to cancel one of our credit cards - it and US$50 was stolen from our bag this morning. Rod had his first flat in camp tonight.

Feb 24 - to Beach camp - 109k, 3:37. Flat with long false flat sections, fairly fast but some of the villages were crazy to go through. In fact, there was a bad crash that resulted in one of the fast riders having to take 2 weeks off of riding due to a bad wrist sprain. The camp was on the beach by a lake, another beautiful day and campsite. It is interesting that just a few km from this massive lake the country is very arid - why irrigate when there is Aid.

Feb 25 - to Bush camp - 131k, 5:23. We both felt good but the constant rollers all day killed Rod. Now would be a good time to let anyone who has seen photos (recently) of us to tell you we are eating as much as we can but weight loss is unavoidable. We eat the following daily:
250ml Hot chocolate with 1 tbsp sugar and 250ml milk
500ml Oatmeal with 2 tbsp Peanut butter, 1 tbsp jam and some milk
1 1/2 hogie with fried egg
1/2 hogie with peanutbutter and honey
2 energy bars
1000ml soup
1000ml pasta and sauce
1/2 bag of mini mars bars
2000ml of energy drink

Feb 26 - to bush camp (Mando day) - 106k, 5:54. It rained for most of the night and continued for the first half of the ride. The wet roads were nerve wracking and slowed us down considerably - hard to see as well as slick. One of the fast riders hit a pedestrian and went down and one of the mid pack riders hit a pothole, hard, went over the bars (bent his pedal and crank). Everyone was ok and able to continue riding. The terrian was long, steep rollers - more pain for Rod. We climbed 2200m today. Did we mention that we bought a better tent in Addis Ababa from a section rider? It is great. Our old tent is called the "Weekender" probably not the best choice for a 120 day trip.

Feb 27 To Yabello - 120k, 4:53. Rolling with a big downhill section and we have gone from the lush highlands (banana tress) to the arid lowlands (red soil, 10m termite mounds and camels - Alice Springs?). There are some riders on the tour that are quite negative about this trip, today Rod had enough of one such person. IF they did not want a tour full of hardship maybe they should have done something else. Ross, I need a jar of toughen-up pills for these princesses.

Feb 28 Rest day in Yabello. Rain. Wet clothes and wearing dirty laundry for another week - yah. At least we got a shower so we don't stink. We had a great dinner that consisted of 1/2 kg (each) of fried meat with a little onion. Rod ate all of his and a bit of Juliana's. The town is small so our group overwhelm's it and cleans out all of the shops.

Mar 1 to Bush camp - 127, 4:42. The day was dry but it rained again at night and was very humid all day. The lunch truck broke down, so we did not get our gear until about 5pm. The few clothes that we washed on the rest day are damp and smell like a wet dog. We were able to get them alittle drier this night.

Mar 2 to Moyale / Kenya Border - 82k, 3:10. A short day to allow us to cross the border. It was kind of like a rest day and allowed us to dry our clothes and do a bit of bike maintenance. Tyres were switched to the big dogs - 2.1" offroad Maxxis Crossmarks. The TdA staff has put the fear of god into us saying that the road to Marsibit is worse then Dinder.

Mar 3 to Sololo - 79k, 3:31. A fairly decent dirt road but we took it easy fearing the days ahead and definitely not wanting to crash. The humidity made it hard to sleep. A rider had their cycling shoes stolen in the night but was able to source a spare set from another rider. EFI'er are:
Gizzy, Juliana, Frans, Stew, Dan S., Sunil, Jason, Hardy, Simon, Jethro, Eric D., Gerald and Rod.

Gilles has left the tour - don't really know why but rumors say since he could not race hard with the front group he did not want to continue.

Paddy has left for a week for an interview to get into the Harvard business school (MBA)

Marcel is injured.

Jim is injured.

Mar 4 to Lava Rock Camp - 85k, 4:46. The road which is the main road got quite rough for the last 25k. So rough that we were down to 9km/h - Juliana suffered but did not crash.

Mar 5 to Marsibit - 87k, 6:20 (Mando day). The road has some seriously rough sections but not as bad as Dinder. We went steady with the emphasis on not crashing and finishing the day - accomplished. The road (still the main road) is either rubble, wash board or rocky. Doesn't sound too bad, our support trucks can only manage about 8km/h on these roads - we did 12km/h.

As for the race: Juliana is still in second but losing time to Gizzy (first place). We can not keep up she is just stronger and we have to ride our race and let the best rider win. Rod is also losing time to the stronger riders but again we have to ride within our selves. We have ridden the entire thing together and plan to continue doing so. The rumor is that there are only 25 of the original 36 racers left in the race.

We are not ill and are in good spirits. We will email you in Nairobi.

Rod and Juliana