One of the biggest challenges of taking part in the Tour d’Afrique is the social element that comes with it. As the tour leader says every year, “this is not a race, it’s a social experiment”.
And rightly so because spending four months with almost 60 strangers is one of the most challenging parts of taking part in TDA. However, this is also most rewarding parts of this tour and after just one month it is clear that strong friendships have already been formed.
When going through a hard time it is the people around you that help you to get to the other side and almost everyone on tour has already had to rely on a fellow rider to get them through a rough day. Whether a tough day consists of a long, hard struggle with tired legs not wanting to do the work they’re supposed to do or of struggling through a severe bout of diarrhoea it is the people around you that will determine whether your EFI status remains intact and whether your spirits will remain high or not.
Except for the usual facets that determine who you make friends with like age and interests, a major contributor of who you spend the most time with is your cycling speed. It is because of this that you make friends with people who you might have never done so at home.
After only one month strong friendships have already been formed between a writer from Holland, a veterinarian from England, a student from Australia and an engineer from Ireland. Retired policemen have befriended businessmen, chemists are getting along with actors and singers are getting to know zoologists better and better every day. They’ve gone from friends making small talk to people who aren’t shy to burp, fart and snore in front of each other and know more than most lifelong friends know about each other.
As the tour progresses, fatigue kicks in and and riders move onto harder sections with hills and off-roads these friendships will be tested over and over again. Only time will tell if they will last all the way to Cape Town but if they do, chances are they will last way beyond that to become lifelong bonds and that is what makes this tour all the more rewarding.
— Catharina Robbertze