A day in the Life
It was time to spoil myself this morning so a visit was made to the Sheraton Addis Ababa, rated as the best hotel in Africa. Cost per head was 220 Bihr, about $22, I managed to put away the following:
3 poached eggs
1 pita bread
2 slices of ham
chunk of blue cheese
chunk of emental
chunk of Gouda with chilli
chunk of another cheese
2 egg omlette
6 rashes of beef bacon
serving spoon of baked beans
2 mini burgers
1 large waffle with strawberries syrup and whipped cream
2 thick juice smoothies
Not a bad breakfast in my mind, will burn it off tomorrow so not too worried.
Today is a rest day, but I thought I would talk a bit about the routine of the Tour D'Afrique as it kinda takes some getting your head around if your not out here.
The average day is supposed to be 125km's of riding, therefore most days are over 130km's in order to make up for shorter days into rest days or tough days (lots of mountains or exceptionally bad roads will normally be shorter days). Therefore slower riders can be out on the bike for 10+ hours day in day out depending on conditions.
We rise just before daybreak, in Ethiopia breakfast is served at 6.30 am, so you are usually up clothed and packing your tent down before 6am, no alarm needed, the muffled sounds of all the others doing so will wake you gently. Rise put on your bike clothes rub in chamois cream around your bits if its a real long day or really hot, roll your matt, drop your tent (all of which your incredibly efficient at) then head over with your bags ready to go in your locker. Fight for a spot on the truck to get your stuff in or drop it outside to do later. Find your bowl and tea mug and head to the breakfast truck that has hot water, coffee, bread, jam, peanut butter, porridge or Semoleana and on the odd occasion eggs or banana's all ready to go. Eat, do your thing in the bush with a shovel to bury if need be, wash your b-fast kit in bowls waiting for you, pack locker, find who you feel like riding with or put on your tunes and hit the road (race days all the racers leave at the same time, but as time goes by less and less people are taking the racing side seriously, you choose the days you want to race and the days you want to cruise, see the sights and hang with your friends.)
Once on the road you can find your group changes many times through the day as you pick up people or drop back to others, stop for coffee, coke, or toilet break as you feel like. As you hit any of the towns you can pretty much guarantee that outside one of the cafe's there will be a bike sitting there, you pull up and join whomever it may be, they head off when they are ready by which time another group or single will normally have joined you. If you are feeling really lazy you can sit at these for over an hour and be amongst a set of rolling friends – its kinda fun when your not in the mood, eventually the sweep rider comes along and you hit the road for a couple of hours until you are well enough ahead to do the same again.
The lunch truck is set up somewhere past halfway and consists of a (or multiple of you wish) sandwich, most often tuna, egg salad, cheese and tomato or on occaision last night's leftovers if they go well in a sandwich (pasta sandwiches are actually pretty good). Fill up your bottles head into the bushes with shovel if the need arises. Repeat the morning routine in the afternoon depending on how you feel and eventually you'll turn a corner and see the camp being set up.
Pull up give your name for attendance and grab your mug for some hearty soup that is always sitting good to go around the dinner truck, eat, grab your shit from locker, sort your bike and put up your tent, usually have a short rest before the rider meeting describing the next days riding hazards, climbs, conditions and race distances if its a race day, awards for days race if there has been one and any other business that people are doing that is pissing the team off (not washing hands, burying crap, riding erratically etc) some evenings the contents of the lost and found is auctioned, if you leave your kit loafing it goes straight in the lost and found bin and gets auctioned off weekly. You buy staff beer for the item you lost, BUT anyone who wants that item is welcome to bid any amount of beer for it, risky business leaving your stuff around.
Dinner is served straight after the rider meeting then you have a short time before the sun sets and most head to bed. Day done.
It is such a simple way off life, no real stress other than controlling your temper when kids are hurling rocks at you for sport. Add to this mechanic support in the evenings, trucks passing you a few times during the day that will stop if you give them the thumbs down to help you with your problems, medics doing rounds in the mornings and evenings, local support in the form of 3-4 guys and an extra vehicle or two that are also out on the road watching out for you, chasing kids, extra refreshment stops on 160+km days.
There is no doubt that this tour is hard on everyone involved, it drains you physically and mentally, but if your gonna do it, then this is defiantly the way to do it in style.