After some time on the Tour d’Afrique, or any of our other tours for that matter, you get comfortable. You fall into a routine. It doesn’t feel weird to wake up at 5am, ride 130 kilometres and be in your tent by 8pm. In fact, it feels normal. Your normal life, the 9 to 5, hustle and bustle that we’re all so used to, fades away.
As you settle into the TDA routine, challenges become your daily norm. Everything from a tough climb, to pushing through blistering heat or even convincing yourself to get on the bike for the seventh day in a row despite your legs telling you it’s a bad idea.
We’re now three and a half months into the Tour d’Afrique, so it’s safe to say we’ve encountered our fair share of challenges. In some ways we’ve been quite lucky. One of the biggest challenges, the rainy season, well, we seemed to skip right past it. We had a downpour in Ethiopia, another while climbing out of Chitimba Beach in Malawi and a few days of tough rain in Zambia, but for the most part it’s been dry. Does this mean we’ve had an easy Tour d’Afrique? Not at all. The lack of rain this year has actually reminded us of all the other challenges we’ve faced.
Thinking back, it is easy for things to get blurry, to only remember the awesome rides, the locals we met and the friendships formed along the way. However there were some crazy challenges as well. Big ones. Here’s a reminder of a few of those.
We faced the wrath of the Sudanese desert. Long hot days on the bike, cross winds and sand storms. It was tough.
We spent days climbing what seemed like endless hills in Ethiopia, at serious altitude.
We pushed through the rough, sandy roads of Tanzania.
We endured back to back climbs in the humidity of Malawi.
We cycled 208km in a day in Botswana. Impressive. Even more so given we did 157km and 144km the two days before that ride and then followed it up with 162km and 159km over the next two days. With strong headwinds.
That’s merely the tip of the iceberg. The list doesn’t stop there, it’s ever growing. We’ve just crossed into Namibia, our 9th country on tour, and are about to cycle 1000km on some tough dirt roads.
Sometimes it feels that the only way to describe the Tour d’Afrique is as ‘relentless’. While it’s immensely tough, there are a lot of rewards to be had. Each challenge presents another opportunity for growth and learning, for pushing yourself beyond where you think you can go, and expanding your comfort zone. So, while it might feel like the worst idea in the world to keep pushing the pedals forward, we’ll keep doing it. After all, isn’t that what travelling is all about?