Month: January 2016

Dongala Market

Good morning,

Rest day, so I slept in until around 8:00 and then strolled into town for breakfast. At the little place I stopped, I had two eggs, two pieces of flat bread, a few trimmings, a plate of deep fried, breaded dough ,(I think) and a warm glass of what I’m guessing was goats milk. Cost $1.00.

The people in the market were very friendly. No begging, or pestering, just the locals greeting me with hand shakes and warm welcomes. Everyone wanted to known where I lived. A few people spoke a little English. Lots of activity and merchants selling everything from home hardware to beautiful fruits and freshly cut steaks.

Clive Smith, one of the English chaps, was almost arrested yesterday for taking a picture in the barbershop. I guess he was desperate to have his hair trimmed, so ventured into a local establishment. Little did he know, that after having someone snap a photo of himself and his barber, that the police would come and interrogate him. They lead him to their vehicle and held him for about 30 minutes. He needed to produce his license to take photos. WHAT, a license to take photos? Yes, at the border we all had to buy a license for about $20 to take any Kodak moments. Do you think this country is a little  back-asswards; maybe just a little.

FYI: One thing you can’t find in Dongola is toilet paper. We searched high and low, in every type of store, hoping to land a little ass-wipe. It’s very important to pack a little TP in your day bag, for the so called camp sites. It’s a rarity to find a camp with facilities, so when you need to do your daily duty, a shovel, some TP and maybe even a wet-wipe, really come in handy. (For those of you inquisitive types, the reason why there is no TP, in most of the Sudan, is that their toilets have small hoses beside the bowl, or sometimes the hole in the floor. A little squirt and you’re ready to roll.)

Talk later, need to get a little packing done and maybe a nap..

Ciao,

Easy Rider

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Into Sudan

 

Hey from Dongala, Sudan

Another 4 days of riding behind us and a rest day in beautiful downtown Dongala. Once again I’m keeping up my goal of doing EFH (Every Fu…ng Hotel), on the rest days. The riding has been quite good, with paved roads and a helping wind for most of the time. Only one really tough afternoon with a brutal headwind. The camping has been a different story. Desert camps the last 3 nights and windy. My tent was inundated with sand last night. Not one of the most comfortable situations, when everything is coated with a layer of sand. Actually, quite miserable. We crossed the border in Wadi Haifa, Sudan. The border crossing was no easy task, as to be expected. It took the group about 4 hours to get through.

I’m feeling quite good and have really been trying to pace myself. My daily objective is to ride at the pace where I don’t exhaust myself, but that has a lot to do with the weather and road conditions. As mentioned, the wind has been in our favor most days and the roads good. That is about to change as we go deeper into Sudan.

The Sudanese people are living up to their billing and are fantastic. Smiling, laughing and doing whatever they can to help. The other night when we camped along the Nile, we wandered into  a nearby, small community and had tea with the locals. They laid out the red carpet and were extremely happy to have us join them.

To date we’ve road just over 1,089 miles  (1,757 km) in 14 riding days.

Today’s Three Super Stars,

Rob Hart, 29 living in London England. Rob displayed a fine tenor voice, as he accompanied Sally-Ann the other night, while doing the pots & pans. He’s an accountant for the UK government and has been to Africa numerous times. He just can’t get enough.image

Craig Thompson, (CT) is 29 and lives in Stellenbosch, SA. Craig is in the golf business and is an endurance athlete. He loves travel and wanted to see more of his home continent. Craig is raising money for UNOGWAJA, a group that supports various charities, that empowers people all over Africa. His site is http://www.facebookcycle4changeafrica.com

Graham Whelan, another one of the 29 year olds. He’s an electrical engineer and resides in Buckingham, UK. Graham spotted the TDA tour on the internet in 2007 and put it on his wish list. Graham has the name of his recently deceased grandfather on his bike and is riding in his memory. He is also raising money for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital Heart Department , http://www.justgiving.com/grahamwhelan

Connectivity to the internet has been non existent to very spotty, so don’t expect regular updates.

Ciao,

Easy Rider

 

Out of Egypt

 

Hey from Abu Simbel,

Day off in Abu Simbel, a small town built around the famous temples. They were discovered in 1964 and were removed and reconstructed in 1968 to make way for Lake Nasser. The Lake was a result of the High Dam in Aswan. The temples are magnificent and the best I’ve seen on the trip.

We have now completed day 10 of riding and gone about 1,250 Km ( 775 miles). The first two days coming out of Luxor were along the Nile. The fertile slopes of the river support many small towns. The people were lined up in every village, welcoming us. Young, old, male and female, the people extended their warm welcome as we passed. Even the trucks and cars gave friendly honks and waves as they sped by. The third day of riding was a little different, as we headed back into the desert. The first 60 Km were with heavy cross winds and I took cover with my Rancho Feliz bandana (dust mask) covering my nose and mouth. (Many thanks to Gil Gillenwater for the bandanas). I swear I had a pound of sand in my right ear, before we headed south and had a tail wind most rest of the day . The day finished in a desert camp with the winds howling. Everyone pitched in helping others set up their tents. I went to bed with about two inches of sand encirling the inside of my tent. The fourth day was in heavy tail winds , on good roads……. Loved it.  Once again I extended my objective of EFH  (Every Fu…g Hotel), on the rest days, by finding a very nice hotel, near the campsite.

Today’s Three Super Stars

top left: Douwe Cunningham, 30, lives in Brussels and was born in Scotland  He is fluent in English, Dutch, German, French, Russian and enough Japanese to pick up a gesha girl. Douwe was disheartened with his work in the shipping industry and decided to pack up and head to Africa. This talented young man will be looking for a job when he’s finished the trip. Resumes on request.

Max Chiswick is 29 and lives in Chicago. Max just finished a Masters in Israel. He’s spent some time in Africa a few years ago and had to come back. The most amazing thing in my mind about Max is that he had never clipped into pedals before this trip. The first time, was day one, on the TDA……Talk about an adventurer.

Stephanie Thornton is 28 and from Toronto. She had been working as a nanny in Scottsdale, Arizona. She had spent time in Kenya, Africa, working for an NGO and would love to get a job after the trip working for another NGO. Certainly an adventurer and brave woman, she clipped into her pedals for the first time last July and rode 500 miles from Toronto to Ottawa along the Trans Canada Trail.

Tomorrow we’re on the ferry to Wadi Haifa, Sudan. A short day of riding about 80 Km. The Sudan will be a long stretch, with some very difficult conditions. However, my friend Nola Reynolds, who did this trip in 2012, said it was her favorite section of the ride. “The people were fantastic and couldn’t do enough to make you feel welcomed,” said Nola.

Ciao,

Easy Rider

 

 

 

Photos

 

Top left: sailing the Nile. The captain and I.

One of the 5 Egyptian Riders, Ahmed Nayer, a network engineer for Ciso.. We worked together a couple of days in the wind. Thanks Ahmed.

Bottom left: Four of the Ladies, Brenda, Emma, Martina and Sally-Anne.

My home away from home. Desert Camping, not for the faint of heart.

 

First Four Super Stars

Greetings frm Luxor, Egypt.

First six days of riding are behind us and we had a rest day here in the Valley of the Kings, once the capital of Egypt. We rode 750 km for our first stint on good paved roads. Windy conditions made for some very long days. Temperatures were ideal for riding, around 20 C, or 68 F. Nights in the tent were extremely cold. One day we rode 146 km against the wind, with a tough climb and I struggled for 8 hours. The “hot shots” raced that day and a few of them finished in 5 1/2 hours. No wonder my ass hurts.

Everyone that is doing this ride is a “super star” in my mind and I will introduce all of them over the next few weeks. Today’s “super stars” are in the photo below, starting from left to right:

Mike  Voisin, age 59 from St. Albert, Alberta, a fellow Canadian. Mike is a director of a forestry company and is married with three daughters. Why did he decide to do this trip? Mike  says” he loves pain.” “It’s something monumental to achieve and is over the edge.” He is raising money for ALS, as his cousin Erik in the UK has been recently diagnosed. Mike’s web page is http://www.bit.ly/11BffyN.

Brenda, “The Mountain Lion,” Trenholme is one tough climber. She resides in  Rossland, BC. Canada.  It’s very evident she does a lot of climbing in the “Kootenay Mtns,” as she left me in the dust the first big climb.  Dr. Trenholme just retired as a GP. She retired in late November and two days later saw the TDA (Tour d’Afrique) on the web and she signed up. Brenda said, “This type of adventure is right up my alley.” Brenda is 62 and has two daughters.

Rupert Dixon, 36,  a super rider is even money on winning the TDA. Rupert has been only riding for three years in and around his hometown  of Devon, England. Rupert is single and rode 16,000 miles last year. Yes, that’s right, 16,000.  Rupert travelled through Africa a couple of years ago  and signed up for the tour to combine his love of biking and love for Africa.

Katja Steenkamp, 33, is one of the stronger women riders from Cape Town, SA. Born in East Germany, she moved to Cape Town 10 years go. Katja runs a mountain biking tour company http://www.breakawayriders.com  She is married and is raising money for Qhubeka, a world bicycle relief fund. http://www.katjasteenkamp.com

That’s all for today. Good night from the banks of the Nile.

Easy Rider,

Mike

 

Four Days Gone and 117 to Go

Greetings Friends & Family,

We started the first morning at the pyramids for a photo-op…. Surreal. I can’t believe the trip has started. Egypt is really hurting for tourists and the government is doing everything to help people feel safe. We not only had a police escort to the pyramids, but we have an escort, (multiple vehicles and guards) all the way through Egypt. All paid for by the Egyptian government. Actually, any group of tourists gets the same treatment.

The tour has two competitions, first it is a race and about 12 of the 19 riders are racing, not me. They race for about 80% of the days.. The second is to get the status of EFI, at the end of the trip. EFI stands for “Every Fu..ing” inch. It would be nice, but I plan on taking two days off when we get to Kenya to visit my charity, The Living Room. My plan is to do EFH, “Every Fu..ing Hotel.” They are few and far between, but a bed and shower  will be like heaven.

The desert campsites for the first three nights were horrid. Sandy, rocky and windy and no facilities. A bottle shower (one bottle of water), the third night was super. A real shower, today, was off the charts. Loving life today. ( Yesterday a different story).

We’ve ridden about 500 km (320 miles), the first 4 days.

Wi-Fi sporadic, pictures to follow I hope.  See you soon.

Ciao,

Mike

Getting Ready to Rumble

Gettting warmed up for the ride.

Helping to build the pyramids.                Traded my bike in for a camel. 

Hey from Cairo,

Zeroing in on day one. I made it to Cairo along with my bike and bags so I’m a happy camper. We spent the day touring the pyramids and a couple of other local attractions.  I feel bad for the people in the tourist industry, as there are very few tourists at the sites. Mary and I were here for our honeymoon, many moons ago, and I remember buses and buses lined up at the pyramids. Today there might have been 50-100 people. It’s a great time to tour around without any crowds.

We had a meet and greet tonight. There’s 23 riders starting in Cairo and 19 doing the whole enchilada, (7,500 miles). 6 woman going all the way to Capetown. Looks like  a great mix of people from all over the world. However, Canada and the U.K. seem to be the dominant nationalities. Ages from 23- 63, ( I’m not the oldest, as Larry from Colorado is a year older.)  This same tour, three years ago, had 70 riders, so people have been scared off, or economy is holding people back.

I’m getting anxious and ready to roll. Friday is blast off as we start with a 84 mile warm up.

Note: Wifi connections are sketchy in Cairo, so it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the trip.

Riding High

Mike