Stage 17, Rafaa to Sennar
160km, paved road, our last for a few days at least. This would be our second 100 mile ride on this tour but now we don’t worry anymore, we are all fitter, stronger and faster that we were in Cairo so we just get on with it now !!
The directions were pretty good again with very few turns and even then they would be well flagged for us. Our usual four man crew set off, 20km stints on the front and keeping the pace at around 28km/h, the 80k to lunch soon flashed by and we found the lunch truck in a fairly picturesque spot with a small pond. Soon enough we were on our way again, this time with Caroline making our group up to five, we decided on 15km stints and a coke stop at 115km, we made it there in good time and bumped into a few other cyclists passing the time over a tea or a coke 😉
We stopped for about 20mins then got back on track, as to afternoon wore on it got hotter and the girls upped the pace to get to camp and out of the heat, soon we were pushing up-to 34km/h and really making progress, we made camp at about 2.30pm and got straight on with putting up tents before tackling the other job of the day !!
For the next few days we would be off road, now there’s one word in Africa that strikes fear into the heart of any cyclist……” Thorns ” !! There I’ve said it, they are huge, they are sharp and there are millions of them, added to that the loose road surface and then you see why everyone was busy swapping tyres when we arrived at camp !! Big knobbly tyres with extra puncture protection was the order of the day and after about 30 mins I’d joined them with my Schwalbe Mondials !!
At camp we were treated to a karate display by the local club and given free coke after our dinner, all in all it was a great night, bed now with nightmares about thorns !!
PS, I forgot to mention that at breakfast this morning I got told of by the medic, the reason being to that my nose is so sun eaten that it peeled and bled !!
I’ve now got to wear zinc paste for at least a week so if you see any photos of me with a white nose that’ll be why 😉
Also today we had two casualties, both people came off while crossing railway lines, the tracks ran at an angle to the road rather than straight across, hopefully both riders with make a swift recovery and will be riding tomorrow 😉
Stage 18, Sennar to Dinder
Day of Thorns !!
We were warned, not just once but repeatedly about the thorns….we were told to take ample inner tubes, patches and drinking water !!
Surprise surprise then that some people just didn’t listen. It was a short day mileage wise at only 82km but it would prove to be one of the longest for some people, myself included ! I stopped three times along the route to help people with punctures while I had none of my own, I hope this is good karma and that it will continue 😉
The route was paved for about 5km then it was rutted dry mud or loose sand or compacted earth, all proved testing especially with the amount of thorns.
For the most part our route followed a railway, long since abandoned, it looked lost and forlorn in the arid landscape. We passed over canals, through villages teeming with life and frequently across the railway itself.
Our lunch stop at 44km couldn’t come soon enough as we were tired already, refuelled and water bottles filled we set out for the next 40km, more of the same followed and we became even more tired and for some people the thorns won and they took the sweep bus to camp, I think the record for punctures was 11 !!
Camp was near a canal, some took the opportunity to swill off and get a bit of respite from the oppressive heat, the usual chores were followed by bike maintenance and inner tube repairs, some people were very busy indeed !!
Another tough day tomorrow, much the same terrain but 98km……going to be a few weary people tomorrow !!