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Two beautiful days & the Bahir Dar Bike donation ceremony
Many riders have commented that they wish the whole tour was more like the last two days of riding but if this was the case it would not be the Tour d’Afrique!
The two rest days we had in Gondar and the two moderate riding days to Bahir Dar, where we have another rest day, are there to give the riders time to recover from the effort of cycling through Southern Sudan and prepare them for the tough days that lie ahead.
Riding from Gondar to Bahir Dar was easy, compared to the challenges the riders faced in Sudan (and the challenges yet to come). Rolling hills and fantastic scenery combined with sunny weather and a lack of stone throwing from the local children brought most riders into camp smiling and laughing.
Arriving in Bahir Dar the challenges of the route ahead were not on the minds of riders though, the annual Bahir Dar Costume Party was. The theme for this year’s party was a Whitney Houston Tribute and by 8 o’clock in the evening the hotel bar was filled with slightly inebriated and wildly dancing riders dressed as various versions of Bobby Brown, The Bodyguard and Whitney Houston. It’s always a fun event on tour and this year was no exception.
Most riders will spend this rest day recovering, sightseeing and preparing for the next five day stretch that will take them into Addis Ababa and beyond where things are about to get tough again.
Our Second Bike Donation
Bahir Dar was also the location for our second bike donation ceremony. Hearing about our arrival and our donation to the Health and Anti Malaria Associaltion (HAMA) the Amhara Regional Sports Commissioner and Local Cycling Club arranged for 20 local riders to meet the tour about 10 km before the city and escort us in. Upon arrival at the hotel each rider was presented a rose from the Tiret Cycling Club as well.
At noon, 25 riders and guests from the Sports Commission, Local Cycling Club and HAMA gathered for the donation ceremony. Local media was also present. The ceremony began with a short speech by the Amhara National sports commissioner, Ato Yayeh Addis, who expressed his gratitude and hopes that next year the Sports ministry would be able to sponsor a few local riders to join the tour from Cairo to Cape Town! He concluded by presenting a certificate of appreciation to tour leader Paul McManus.
Next the Vice Director of the Tiret Cycling Club, Ato Desalegn Mekonnen, said a few words of thanks and outlined the goals of the club, which included the expansion of their own tour from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar and their hopes that one day they could work together with Tour d’Afrique to combine the two tours. The president next presented tour leader Paul McManus with a small gift, a framed photo of the cycling club.
“It was very sweet” said Paul. “It is certainly something I will hang up when I return home and will be a nice reminder of this year’s visit to Bahir Dar. I’m really impressed by the organization and enthusiasm of the Sports Commission and Cycling Club. They’ve made this year’s trip a bit more special and I look forward to working with them in the future.”
The Conclusion and a Nice Surprise
Finally, Estifanos Bayville of HAMA said a few words about the organization and how the bikes we were donating would be used by their outreach workers to provide health education and services to people in rural areas who do not have access to clinics or hospitals. Estifanos had also come with a gift for the tour, HAMA had arranged for a free boat trip to the famous Island Monasteries on Lake Tana for each rider on tour! (link to a wiki entry about the monasteries) Several Riders who have been fundraising for the foundation then ceremonially handed over 10 bikes to Estifanos amongst the snapping of many photos and applause. The ceremony was concluded with a brief thanks from the tour leader.
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