The Sudanese cycling experience.
“I came for the chicks but stayed for the camels“, was Philip Robins’ answer when asked why he chose to cycle the Tour d’Afrique. Cameron Kilgour mentioned the goat and cow market as one of the highlights of the tour so far. Either we have some real animal lovers on this trip or the desert heat is really getting to the riders. We have just a couple of days remaining in the ‘Pyramids of Nubia‘ section and the cyclists have started to reflect on their time in Sudan. Alessandro Mauri and David Crane arrived at the rest day in Gedaref all excited about their adventure into town. The cyclists had been escorted by police to help them through the donkey, tuk-tuk, and pedestrian chaos of the city streets. David and Alessandro also had an encounter with a herd of camels that resulted in them riding camels and the herders riding their bicycles.
The cyclists were able to experience quite a few road conditions in under 3 weeks. There were beautifully paved roads, deep sand and severely corrugated dirt. Hearing about everyone’s days on the bike proved that not all cycling surfaces were enjoyed by each of the riders. If I’m being honest, I would be happy never to ride in sand again. I’m not a huge fan of the feeling that you’re about to eat it/stack it/whatever you call falling in your native slang at any given moment. “When traveling through sand, a camel is a superior vehicle to the bike.” – words of wisdom from Randy, the tour director. Navigation has been pretty good other than the desert crossing. After chatting about the various ways our flagging tape had been recycled, Justin rehashed his experience of seeing a child on a donkey who had repurposed our flagging tape into a bridle.
Although the new route in Sudan brought the challenge of an open desert crossing, many riders said it was one of the most special and sought after experiences. The desolate landscape brought some very serene and reflective riding. Christian Habluetzel described taking a solitary break under a lone tree in the desert as his most memorable moment.
The Pyramids of Meroe were a major highlight of the section but the hospitality of the Sudanese people has been the resounding theme when chatting with the riders. Locals have gone out of their way many times to make us feel welcome. From bringing us mattresses to chill out on and sugar cane for snacking, to playing the “Titanic” theme song on repeat at an outdoor restaurant (yes, super bizarre), we’ve really felt at home. Many cyclists have commented on the tasty food found in Sudan, especially the fresh fruit. The mango, guava and banana smoothies are the perfect treat after a scorching day on the bike. Never did I think I’d be riding my bike in Sudan with 35 adventurous souls and be sad to see the desert in the rear view when the time came to depart. Onward and upward (literally) to our next destination – Ethiopia!
You can join one of the other amazing Tour d’Afrique sections this year – maybe the challenging “Meltdown Madness” ride from Addis Ababa to Nairobi!