Rest day in Aswan
Although it was a rest day we still needed to attend a riders meeting, there were about twenty of us staying in the same hotel so we arranged a mini bus to pick us up at 8.30am, breakfast came first though and we were pleasantly surprised with it 😉
The mini bus arrived on time and whisked us to the camp site where the riders meeting was held, we chatted to other riders as we drank coffee and waited for Kieran to give us all the info we’d need for the trip to the ferry, the ferry loading and unloading and the trip to camp in Sudan, all fairly straight forward really just lots of patience needed !!
We completed our registration forms, TDA had filled in most of the info we just needed to check it, hand over $100 dollars to cover fees out of Egypt and into Sudan and make sure we had noted the times for the following morning !!
We all took the mini bus back to the hotel and arranged for it to pick us up again at 6.20am the following morning, we also arranged breakfast boxes at the hotel and alarm calls for 5.30am, we wouldn’t want to be late as there’s only one ferry a week !!
At the hotel we chilled out for a bit, we’d arranged to meet some friends at the Isis hotel at 12.30 with the intention of taking a boat a trip along the Nile. At 12.15 we met Tracy, Chris and Daniel in reception and took the short walk to the Isis, it was a gorgeous day, baking hot and blue sky, prefer for doing nothing 😉
At the hotel we met Sylvie, Gus, Kevin and Eerin, the nine of us then haggled for a boat trip and were soon on a nice boat, cushions, rugs etc, all very comfy and relaxed, it was a sail boat so no engine to disturb the peace and quiet. We set sail, the intention being to visit about four different places on route, a Nubian village, botanical garden, monastery and something else, the truth is we were so relaxed on the boat that we didn’t really want to get off so we only really got off for the botanical garden and a quick photo at the first stop point, some might say we wasted our time but we were happy and relaxed 😉
After the boat trip we went for beer and food in a nice place overlooking the Nile, we ate to much as usual and no one ventured out for dinner, on our way back to the hotel we stopped to get food ready for the ferry trip from Aswan to wadi Halfa, and then back at the hotel, surprise surprise the Wi Fi was working so I managed to upload all my photos to Facebook and also upload my latest blog, a good day indeed !!
Aswan, Ferry, Wadi Halfa
We were picked up on time at the hotel, breakfast boxes had either been eaten or were being carried, the luggage was safely stowed on the roof and the driver paid, we arrived on time at camp so had time to get teas and coffees prior to leaving at 8.00am, we were just getting ready to leave when Kieran told us we’d been delayed leaving as the police escort hadn’t arrived, our new departure time would be 8.45am, oh well time for another coffee then 😉
The police finally showed up and we formed our convoy for the 17k ride to the ferry port, we crossed several dams but had been warned not to take photos as they are of strategic importance !! Bloody shame, it was one of the things I was most looking forward to ! Also to add insult to injury there seemed to be coach loads of tourists all stopped on the dam, taking photos…..hmmm, not impressed !!
We arrived at the ferry port and despite everything we’d been told we found our entry into the port and onto the ferry fairly smooth and soon enough our bikes were stowed on the upper deck and all the riders and baggage was allotted to a cabin and it wasn’t even midday yet, we’re not due to sail until 5.00pm, so five hours before we sail and another 24 hours for the journey, it’s going to be a long trip 😉
Most of our time was spent, eating, dozing, taking photos of the complete madness on deck, chatting or taking turns on deck to admire the scenery !!
Time did pass fairly slowly but soon enough it was time to sleep and with three to a cabin and only two bunks it was time to break out the thermarests and sleeping bags, Philip Howard manfully took the floor, leaving Naomi and myself the bunks.
We woke early and went in search of coffee and tea, then set about making breakfast out of the meagre rations we’d brought on board, that done we took turns on deck, fresh air and conversation were welcome antidotes to the boredom, we were aching to be back on the bikes.
About 4.00pm we reached the port of Wadi Halfa and while everyone else on board disembarked we had to queue to fill in forms, have are passports checked and fill out yet more forms, after 2.5 hours we were at last allowed to take our bags and bikes off, a short ride followed to the immigration hut where every single bag, bike, tyre and other piece of equipment was searched and stickered to say it had been passed, it was then loaded onto the TDA trucks, this was new to us as we’d been using another company through Egypt.
The TDA trucks had been built specifically and we would finally get our own lockers 😉
Oh did I mention, were now in Sudan !! Very excited to be here !!
A short trip followed to our camp, a rider meeting introduced some new crew members and we got a run down on how things would now operate with the lockers etc.
No dinner tonight so most people headed into town to eat, food was very cheap and plentiful if a little bland, beggars can’t be choosers though !!
Home to bed and thoughts of our first ride in Sudan.
Stage 9, Wadi Halfa to Nile Camp
149km lay in front of us, the scenery looked like something from a sci Fi movie set and it was baking hot, water would be a key player today !!
Our small group was quickly joined by Alex and that made us a six strong crew, the road was brand new and for the most part flat, when it did climb Gus did struggle a bit and we slowed the pace to accommodate him, by the time we got to lunch we were all thirsty and hungry, time to refuel and fill the water bottles, we were only half way to camp but were doing ok for time so we planned to stop for coke with about 30k to go, a good plan as people were suffering in the heat, I took the lead for most of the afternoon, a slight headwind had got up, Naomi and Caroline also did there turns on the front and we coasted into camp at about 2.30, despite the heat Gus arrived looking ok, his determination is remarkable !!
The usual rider meeting, making camp, dinner etc was all eclipsed by a quick swim in the Nile, it was cool and refreshing after a hot day in the saddle, dinner was fantastic as normal but we were all being bothered by flies so scooted of to bed as soon as possible, blogs to write, photos to up load etc, another long day looms tomorrow so bed early !!
Stage 10, Nile Camp to Nile Camp
Bloody flies !!!!!!
There is one particular fly that is prevalent here at the moment, it follows the flowering of the palm tree, so should only be around for two to three weeks, hopefully,….. In the meantime they are a bloody menace, they swarm you as soon as you get of your bike and will get in your mouth, nose, ears and eyes….they will drive us mad if we’re not careful !!
In addition to that the temperature is regularly around 40 degrees, especially after lunch, it means that on a regular day you will need to consume about 10 to 12 litres of fluid, today will be one of those days, 145k it will be a tough day !!
The day started with us trying to outrun the flies while taking photos of the beautiful sunrise, that done we hit the road, our usual group of six riders now, we made good fast progress in the morning and made lunch at about 10.45, a quick but nutritious lunch, water bottles refilled and we set out for the 70km to camp, the temperature soared and as the road started to rise and fall so did Gus’s pulse, Gus is a big man and we look after him as we do all our group, we slowed the pace a little and made a coke stop as soon as possible, we met a few other riders at the stop but they travelled faster than us so soon enough it was our group of six again, we still had 40km to go and the headwind was now picking up and our group was starting to suffer, I road on the front for that 40km and kept a reasonable pace for my group and finally we hit camp at about 3.00pm, a tough day but also a good day 😉
We were camping next to the Nile again which meant another swim and a quick wash of shorts, always welcome. Rider meetings, dinner, photos and blog writing were next followed by bed, the team time trial awaits tomorrow 😉
Stage 11, Nile Camp to Dongala
“The Team Time Trial”
Today’s the day, the 25k team time trial, about 12 teams were entered originally but on the day only 8 actually started the race.
I’d been asked to join the British team aka “The Empire Strikes Back” also in the team were Ali, Lizzie, Claire and Natalie, we all set off after breakfast individually for the 8k warm up to the start line and met there ready for the start. Ahead of us already were The German team, Team Slow and the North Atlantic team. We started fast, me on the front trying to get us a good start, a bit to fast though as we started to lose Claire, I reigned in my enthusiasm and we settled into a much smoother pace. We took it in turns to do 2km turns on the front then peel of and pick up the back wheel of the last man, we were going well eating up the kilometres when all of a sudden we were passed by the Dutch Express…the Dutch team, Thijs was leading his legs a blur, behind him was Bas Willems, Freek de Haas and Deidrick Branger bringing up the rear, they’d caught us for two minutes, impressive stuff !!
We caught team slow who to be honest were not that slow, we shouted good morning as we passed and wished them well 😉
We pushed on and finished with a strong sprint, we came in 5th only 6seconds behind team Germany. The Dutch team came in first followed by The North Atlantic Cycling Team, the Kiwis were next. All Africa were 6th, team slow 7th and finally the Canadian team came in 8th and last !!
Photos were taken, handshakes given and accepted, congratulations were also given and then we set off for the 34km to lunch….about 24 of us made up a peloton, two abreast taking 2k turns on the front before peeling of left and right and allowing the next pair through, keeping up an average of about 30k we hit lunch at about 10.15.
Lunch was fairly quick, mainly due to the huge amount of flies, they really do get on your nerves, back on the bikes we formed another large group and soon rattled off the 45k to camp, the usual routine was abandoned as tomorrow is a rest day so no soup or dinner provided !!
Hotels were sought and found and soon enough we were showered and ready for dinner, we met up with a group of about 16 people and enjoyed a meal of, salad, fish, chicken and rice. After a walk around town we stopped for snickers bars, grabbed some water and headed back to the hotel for a chat before bed !!