Hype Dark logo

Searched for

by SS at 3:43 pm on Thursday 21st January

The last update was written in a bit of a rush from an internet cafe in Safaga. I was running out of Egyptian currency and so my internet time was limited! I spent the afternoon cleaning my bike (not terribly effective but it's less sandy now) and looking for a money exchange. Walking into town, I passed several convenience stores. Since the trip has started, we've been eating a lot (and burning a lot) - whenever I see food now I think it must be eaten! As I walked towards the Bank of Alexandria, I bought and ate some biscuits, something similar to a slice of sponge cake and Fanta in some strange purple colour.

The town itself was quite a sleepy tourist town - there are a few resorts and hotels scattered about and most of the shops seem to be around on the back of those visitors. At 3pm on Monday though, there were few customers and many of the shops were in fact actually shut. The bank was shut but I managed to withdraw some money from the ATM which I promptly used to purchase biscuits (something similar to custard creams but round in shape). On the way back I passed a hairdresser's shop and with my electric razor being a poor excuse for a grooming device, decided to get my face shaved. The hairdresser's English wasn't that great, when I asked him how much, he replied 'It's okay, it's okay!' quite enthusiastically. I just nodded and pointed to my growing beard. After what seemed like an age of spreading shaving foam on my face, he put a new blade in his razor and started work. This was the first shave I've ever had with a loose blade and it was surprisingly decent. After he finished, I was a bit alarmed to see him attempt to cut my hair. I shook my head (while the scissors were held away, or it could have been painful!) and he got the idea, although he still insisted on using hairspray and combing my hair. Hairspray combined with a bicycle helmet results in an interesting hairstyle!

That night on the beach seemed like it might just be the quiet night we were all hoping for. In actual fact, the three dogs that seemed to live in that enclosure were at war with each other (seemingly) and several times during the night they were barking and making various noises of aggression towards each other! The morning came soon enough and we began the 138km fifth stage to yet another desert camp.

The Egyptian riders had forewarned us that the first 40 kilometres were all climbing, and it was with this in mind that we tried to form a group of riders. Trying to maintain a speed of 20kmph with a side/headwind on the ascent was just about manageable and we soon reached the lunch truck at about 10:30am! The remainder, a solid 75 km, was much less hilly but just as strong wind. Our group of riders absorbed several smaller groups and at its largest consisted of sixteen riders! At first we were a disorganised mass of bicycles and people, but Jen, a fairly loud (she admits this herself) Canadian lady, soon organised the group into a more orderly two column peloton*. It was a tough day all-in-all but we pedalled on and reached the desert camp at 2:30pm, giving us plenty of time to unpack, drink soup (a mixture of broccoli, potatos and other vegetables - great) and chill out.

Riders are starting to feel the pain of five hard days of cycling now (myself included) and knees are one of the most common disturbances so far. This happens because people aren't used to spinning (using a low gear and pedalling fast) and prefer to mash (using a high gear and pedalling less often). This is a cycling trait of mine as well, coming from a mountain biking background where there is less constant pedalling and more high intensity bursts, so I've been trying actively to spin more.

Camp life is starting to get quite fun - an enterprising local turned up today with a cooler full of beer which he sold to us at quite a hefty price. Since I don't drink beer, I tried my luck and asked if he had any soft drinks. The answer - 'no!'. We usually have a rider meeting just before dinner where they explain our route for the next day and discuss the next few days of the tour. Today the truck crew had an auction (the currency: cans of beer) of all the items that had been left lying around the truck. Luckily none of my items showed up - trying to fit my bags in the locker may have pushed the door off its hinges...

It's sometime after dinner now, which really just means bedtime. There are flies buzzing around my tent - I figure these are relatively tame compared to the nasty insects that will invade later in the trip. For some reason the Tour D'Afrique trucks were playing Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On' (or whatever that song from Titanic was called). This probably makes sense given that Canadians represent the largest proportion of riders here.

*I realise that I keep using the word peloton and non-cyclists are probably wondering what on Earth they are. It's literally a group of cyclists, taking various formations, where each cyclist is fairly close to those in front and behind. This is more efficient than cycling solo since there are aerodynamic gains to be made - whilst the cyclist at the front works harder, all those who are drafting (i.e. riding behind) tend to save energy because of lower air resistance. The cyclist at the front usually rotates so that riders save energy most of the time.

No comments yet
No comments yet!

Comments have been disabled. You can probably comment on this post on Geek On A Bicycle.

by SS at 11:43 am on Tuesday 19th January

The fourth stage was pretty straightforward (I wouldn't go so far as calling it easy, but relative to the horror of the second stage, then sure - easy). A brisk before lunch run to the lunch truck followed by a brisk after lunch run to the campsite saw us reaching Safaga, a town near the coast of the Red Sea.

This campsite is luxurious compared to our previous three nights - Tour D'Afrique has booked out three hotel rooms for us to shower in and there are GENUINE toilets! We're camping on the beach pretty much, adjacent to a hotel. There's a bar just next to the 'campsite', most of the other riders are busy getting beers.

There's really not much to say about the day's riding so far, so I'll leave off now until we arrive in Luxor in three days time - an 'official' rest day (also my birthday).

No comments yet
No comments yet!

Comments have been disabled. You can probably comment on this post on Geek On A Bicycle.