The Tour d’Afrique is full of many riders from different countries, different backgrounds, different age groups and a different reason for doing the tour. We have racers and we have expedition riders. The expedition riders will often take longer to complete the day’s ride, choosing to leave camp early, ride at their own pace throughout the day, get out of the experience what they choose and then try to get into camp before it’s too late.
The racers leave at a set time, ride as fast as they can and more often than not get into camp early each day. Everyone has a different bike, varying differences in components, gear and all the other goodies. Each bike handles the varying terrain differently. The terrain into Marsabit was rough and made a bit more difficult by mother nature throwing in a sandstorm, mammoth headwinds and some heat. For the majority of the riders including the top racers… it was a tough day whether you were on a full suspension bike, a hard tail, a cycle-cross or just a plain old racing bike.
To see Pierre Bataini, a 64 year old Canadian ride the entire day yesterday (he spent about 12hours in the saddle) on a bike older than most of us on the tour, was a pretty amazing spectacle. Pierre will downplay it but at one point during the day even a man as strong, tough and stubborn as he is would admit that it was hard! Still he put his head down and continued on throughout the day arriving into camp at 6.30pm. Today, on our rest day in Marsabit, there he was doing his laundry, cleaning his bike and heading for a visit into town. “I will rest,” he said “and then tomorrow the road will be better”. Pierre has ridden every riding day on his bike and is an incredibly strong rider, a fact even more impressive when you see the bike he has ridden through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and now Kenya. He is one of the many expedition riders we have on the tour who take and ride each day as they come. One hopes they will continue to be able to ride every single riding day of the tour.
So yet another rest day is finished under the shady trees at the Kenyan Wildlife Services Park in Marsabit. The family of baboons have returned for the evening to climb trees and stay for the evening. Apparently the elephants will soon tip-toe around the campsite checking us all out. We’ve enjoyed a “bring your own barbecue” dinner and the bikes are clean (can’t say shiny as they are beyond that now) and ready for another assault on the bumps and dirt roads heading towards Nairobi.