Stage 12, Dongala to Dead Camel Camp
Yesterday was a rest day in Dongala and to be honest I’ve nothing to say, all we did was eat, drink and rest. Dongala is not exactly a happening place although I did manage to get my head and face shaved !!
We left out hotel early, 6.00am to be precise, we wanted to get back to the campground early and make sure we had access to the lockers before rest of the riders were up!!
Next thing was coffee and breakfast, the coffee at breakfast is the best cup of the day and it pays to be at the front of the queue !
The rider meeting was next, the days route, instructions, questions and answers were all done then it was time to check out and hit the road, today’s route was very simple, two or three turns then pretty much 135k in a straight line, 140k in total with lunch at 75k. Our group set of minus Eerin who unfortunately had a fall on the way to Dongala, thankfully she’d been wearing a helmet, it probably saved her life, the helmet was in three pieces and she had stitches over one eye plus several cuts and bruises. She wanted to ride out of Dongala but the medics said no !!
The route was very flat, the scenery was unspectacular and the wind slightly behind us, Naomi suddenly took of after about 15k and for the next 60k turned big gears and we averaged about 31k an hour, we passed several people and when we arrived at lunch we were the first riders there other than the racers, Naomi was justifiably pleased with herself, more Nutella sandwiches for breakfast could see her enter the individual time trial 😉
We waited for our usual crew to catch up at lunch before setting off for the 65k to camp, afternoons are always harder, it gets much hotter and of course you get tired, it also seems that the wind changes direction in the afternoon so the last 20k is a real drag !!
Our friend Gus was struggling with the heat so we reduced our pace and finally stopped for him to cool down and drink plenty of fluids, when he was ready we got back on the road Naomi and myself sharing the work for the last leg into camp, we’d cycled 140 or 88miles and were at camp by 1.45pm a pretty good day by our standards 😉
The usual nightly routine followed as we waited for the last riders to arrive, we’d heard that Eerin had been allowed to cycle the afternoon session with the sweep rider who happened to be our medic Nix 😉
Unfortunately Nix had two punctures and then her gears wouldn’t work so they and one other rider were picked up by the sweep truck, Eerin was applauded loudly as she entered the camp, quite right to !!
Hopefully Eerin will be back with our group tomorrow, a simple 143k, hope the roads are flat again !!
Stage 13, Dead Camel Camp to Desert Camp
“Wind Farm Camp”
Stage 13 started much the same as any other day, we had 143km to ride on a flat course and on great roads butStage 13 wasn’t going to be any ordinary day !!
Our small group started together but very soon Naomi and I had pressed on together, we’d probably done about 15km when we were overtaken by a fairly large well organised group, I quickly joined on the back wheel and settled into there pace. I’d assumed that Naomi had taken the same opportunity but it turned out that she’d missed the group and therefore had to peddle like crazy to catch up ! She surprised everyone when she rejoined, we all took turns on the front for the next 60km to lunch, we arrived at about 10.15, two and a half hours for 75k, not bad 😉
Lunch over we set off with the group again, 68km to go until camp, the pace increased steadily and unbeknown to me at the time Naomi got dropped off the back. Fortunately the group stopped for a coke with about 28km to go, Naomi caught up, downed a coke and said she’d set off on her own as she couldn’t keep up with the group. I set off with her and I don’t know whether it was a sugar rush or not but she flew, 43km an hour and camp in about 40mins !!
On arrival Naomi was hoping that she might be the first girl back but one other had beaten her, she still had a chance of a place though, it would depend on start times.
In the mean time we started to put up our tents, the only problem being that the wind that pushed us to 43km an hour was now making it very hard to put up tents, Naomi helped me with my rented one, we had it up, pegged, even put a heavy bag in it. We started on Naomi’s and were just fitting the fly sheet when the wind uprooted my tent and hurled it into Naomi’s, we gave up at this point and untangled the mess before stowing them ready to try later. Unfortunately my rented tent suffered a broken pole which I’ve subsequently mended, not a great start to the night !!
Rider meeting was at 5.00 and the results from the day were in, Naomi had come third in the women’s category for the days ride, 5hr 3mins for 143km, this included a lunch stop and a coke stop, hurrah !!
After dinner a mass effort was in motion, everybody started collecting large rocks to help weigh down the tents and soon enough all the tents were up and looking strong, bed time, another tough day awaits tomorrow !!
Stage 14, Desert Camp to Desert Camp
148km today, we were awake early as the wind refused to relent, it was another battle to take down the tents without damage but they were finally stowed.
At breakfast we were given the news that there would be no racing as the wind was still howling and was throwing sand all over the roads, this also meant that visibility on the road was severely reduced !!
At this point I must point out that there are a lot of buses / coaches that ply there trade between Wadi Halfa, Dongola and Khartoum, they run at there top speed, they don’t give way and barely give room to anything let alone cyclists, with this in mind our warning was taken seriously !!
Naomi and I set off, the wind at our backs, legs turning over our biggest gears and us loving every minute, it felt like we’d take off, we managed 52.5km per hour at one point, sometimes it’s really great to be alive !!
With the wind still at our backs we were at lunch by 10.30 having covered 83km, incredible. The only downside was that with the wind throwing up so much sand it was not a great day for photos ;-(
After lunch we were on are own again, 66km to go, the wind still at our backs as we hurtled through the next 40km, still nothing to see though. Then with only about 20 or so km to go the wind changed and we were heading almost straight into it, it was a grind for the rest of the day but we still rolled into camp at 12.45, 148km done, time to chill out !!
After a cup of coffee and a well earned bowl of soup we set about finding a suitable pace to put up tents, with a bit of cooperation we finally had them sorted. We changed, washed and made ready for rider meetings and dinner, tomorrow is a strange day, firstly there will be an individual 25km time trial and then later we ride in convoy into Khartoum, can’t wait 😉