Dreaming of the Sudan.
Assistant Tour Director Adrian reports from Sudan on the Tour d’Afrique bicycle expedition:
The other day I found myself on my bike next to April and Miles. Two things struck me as rather odd. One, April and Miles were riding, although their bicycle stint consisted of only metres not kilometres (it was their first time on a bike since leaving Cairo) and two, I found myself cycling towards the Sudanese border. I can honestly say that I suddenly found myself somewhere in the world I never thought I would be. And so after filling out form after form after form, we entered The Sudan, a place portrayed to me through the media as having what could be best described as a turbulent recent history. After learning that I would be working on the 2015 Tour d’Afrique I thought about Sudan and decided that it was the country I was most excited to visit. This place is such a wonderful contradiction to how I first imagined it. The desert landscapes offering beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the star filled night sky, the green banks of the Nile and the nearby irrigated farmland. The towns are a mix of buildings on their way up, and some on their way down, separated by dirt roads full of tuk tuks, donkeys, ancient Land Rovers and new Toyotas. It is such a quick change from the high energy hustle and bustle of Egypt – the Sudanese seem to work on their own time. They are helpful, friendly, welcoming and intrigued. All of which is done with an air of calm I didn`t find in Egypt.
The riders are enjoying a well-deserved rest day in Dongola before heading off once again, south to Khartoum. Then further south again on dirt roads, slowly working their way towards the Ethiopian border. The rest days offer a welcome change of pace from the days riding, setting up camp, packing up camp and riding once again. Little things like leaving your tent up for more than a night and waking up to the sun rather than an alarm make all the difference! However one day stationary seems to be enough and the next morning everyone is ready to hit the road once again. The days of the week seem somewhat irrelevant now compared to the stage numbers. Tomorrow is stage 15 which means just over 2 weeks riding, or 3 working weeks and many more to come!
I spent a lot of time dreaming of cycling adventures over the past 4 years. This dreaming offered a welcome distraction from study and helped me keep my head in the clouds which, whether it`s productive or not, is a wonderful place to spend some time! I wondered how I would plan for something of this scale, whether I would enjoy it, whether I could do it by myself or whether I could convince someone it would be a good idea to join me. All this wondering, pondering and planning was put into perspective by a lovely French couple who had spent the last 7 years cycling their way up, down and around the world. I met them in New Zealand while cycle touring and asked them how they went about planning for their trip. The lady offered me this simple piece of advice. “You could spend the rest of your life planning for a trip and not go because you still didn’t have everything sorted, so you might as well just go”.
And it’s true! With very little planning I have survived and enjoyed almost a month in Africa and despite all the planning and preparation done by Tour d’Afrique, we still have to expect the unexpected and be flexible in our approach on the long road down to Cape Town. So trade your planning for embracing the challenges that come your way and hit the road.