Cycling Cairo to Cape Town

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Cycling Cairo to Cape Town

There isn’t a future, there isn’t a past, there’s the road This is going to be the most fun that you’ve had in your life It’s also going to be some of the worst times I’m ecstatically apprehensive and nervous all at the same time! There’s a big unknown coming At this point, it’s in the hands of the gods You can’t do any more preparation, so it’s over to them Let’s get on with it You start, and you say, “Oh my god, are we ready? Can we do this? Did we bite off more than we can chew?” But you can’t go back anymore It’s just forward It was barren, desolate, empty The interesting part about it is that there was no green Everything around you was shades of brown “One thousand clicks!” We’re cycling next to the Nile River today Very different than riding in the desert There’s a lot more going on, a lot more to engage you everywhere In going from Egypt to Sudan, we saw people who were so eager to welcome the world into their country, and to feel that their Sudan could be known and be appreciated Going through the Nubian desert – there’s nothing It’s barren, it’s desolate, temperatures had soared to 45 degrees We faced severe headwinds We were really struggling for every pedal stroke At the end of these tough days, I still felt “Boy, I am so glad to be here!” There were some really tough days in Sudan

The first massive challenge was going to be cycling through the Sahara desert Everybody was hit on those days in Sudan That was when we said, “Sudan finally showed its bite.” Crossing the border to Ethiopia was special Leaving a little bit the Arabic world with Egypt and northern Sudan, and having this feeling, “Hey, now I’m in Africa.” Experiencing Ethiopia for the first time, we were all shocked how stunningly beautiful this country was Everybody’s mouth was watering You can’t see it in a car, you can’t see it on a plane, you can’t see it if you’re walking The pace of the cycling is a perfect way to see the transition of north to south All I was thinking when I was going to the Nile Gorge was, “Yeah, I’m gonna do this If it kills me – I’m going to do this day.” Everybody knew that this was the big climb Some place there was no tarmac, there was just gravel And it was hammering When the climb started, it’s an average of 7% That was tough Get me to the top! The Blue Nile Gorge is going to go down for me as one of my epic climbs! The longest I’ve done in my life When we crossed over to Kenya, we left the mountains of Ethiopia behind and all of a sudden it was just this vast savannah like territory The complete contrast of Ethiopia into more red earth, it’s a completely different world An older world, in a way I think we got into our stride a little bit by that point So the challenges that Kenya threw at us, it felt like we were warmed up for those, and we were able to be just a bit more comfortable through those challenges We had the Masai who all of a sudden started appearing But it’s quite the contrast You’re cycling along these pristine roads and yet you have this culture that’s sort of been there for centuries Coming down through the dry, dry north heading to the greener pastures Acacia trees on the right, Mount Kenya on the left Riding into Tanzania, everybody was looking for Kilimanjaro

When you see that massive peak – OK, we’re getting there The safari experience was really out of this world I don’t have words to describe it – really You can see the eyes of the people – this is beyond imagination There’s holes everywhere, bumps, you need to be constantly focused We had to fight just to go forward There were a few days where I felt like throwing my bike into the bush Oh man, brutal, brutal You don’t think about the distance, or the day, you just know there is only the next ten metres ahead of us Just take two seconds and you might go over your handlebars I did fall down once There was too much sand, and there was more sand, and then there was more sand And the third bit of sand was too much for me I think that week, after seven straight days, everybody was tired It was probably the toughest week so far that we’ve had It could be worse, it could be worse Coming into Malawi out of Tanzania was absolutely amazing We had this huge descent that just seemed to go on and on and on Seeing Lake Malawi was a total surprise for me I knew there was a lake but I didn’t know it was so big It’s vast! It’s like an inland ocean As we’ve gone down Africa, the number of cyclists has increased Malawi was another step up It’s a bicycle economy I’m just amazed at how much weight people can carry on those bikes There were tough days They were not particularly long days in the end, but tiring because of the consistent up and then down, up and then down, up and down

That sort of riding takes me to a level that I didn’t know I had in me I was exhausted by the time we finished Absolutely done It’s always interesting to go to a different country because you know the moment you cross the border, things are going to be different Even if things are really subtle and small Transitioning from Malawi to Zambia really felt like we were starting the reintegration process The road changed completely from potholed and rough to silky smooth It was beautiful with all these views that we got from the rolling hills in the Zambian highlands With all the elephant grass and trees, the mountains in the background In Zambia, the miles per stage jumped up The stages were shorter in Ethiopia and Kenya but the climbing was brutal In Zambia the kilometres went up but the overall effort pretty much stayed the same Which is really tough! After the mid point in the tour it starts to get a bit hard Your body starts to fall apart, your bike starts to fall apart, the tent starts to fall apart It was a real mental test Another thing I really enjoyed was the bike donation When you join up for a trip with TDA, your registration fee goes towards a charity that donates bikes all the way through Africa You actually got to speak to the recipients To see how a bike can be given to someone and fundamentally change their life That was pretty special I was stunned the first moments when I stepped into the park and saw the falls It’s something that you really can’t imagine You cannot relay in a photo or words the sheer power of that water going over those falls Hey Scott In about four and a half clicks down the road there’s two elephant bulls, one on each side of the road Don’t hang about, just keep cruising on The Chobe National Park, it was kind of like National Geographic live I was just blown away by how much we saw in such a little amount of time Out of nowhere, they just appear And that actually makes it more special because when they appear, you’re like “Oh my god!” You’re sitting on your cycle and there’s nothing between you and the elephants We were just all in awe It takes all your attention, but at the same time it’s very stimulating

And we’re always kind of looking, oh did I see one – look! That’s exciting One or two elephants gave us a real show You know, water everywhere, and this was quite something In Botswana, we did the six centuries So going a hundred miles a day, six days It’s quite challenging I’m not going to lie, there’s times where I think everybody feels like “I don’t know if I can make this day.” But then, having other people that are supporting you – it just makes it a lot easier to not just get through it, but to enjoy it Going into the 208 day I think even the most experienced cyclists thought this is going to be a long, tough, grueling day People really worked together to make sure that everyone would accomplish that challenge that day And I know some riders could have gone faster, but they were committed to help the group make it to the end I finished and I was just kind of in awe of the fact that I finished People were so supportive as well when we finished Just kind of cheering us like “Yeah you made it!” I know this is going to be one of those experiences where I’m going to look back on, and be like “I can’t believe I actually did that!” I didn’t know what to expect in Namibia I felt I was on another planet You just look around – the colours are just amazing At one point, you’re on your bike and you say “Wow, this is the best experience in my life.” Riding on the dirt is a different animal Rolling on gravel, you don’t know from minute to minute There are sections that are sandy where you can get bogged down It tests your mettle On any given day, the tougher the road, the more you’ve overcome, the better you feel at the end of it That’s just the way we are I’ve been doing some cycling for the last 25 years, and that was I think the most difficult experience I’ve had It’s almost a lunar landscape You just crossed between the Moon and Mars You don’t just get that anywhere When we reached South Africa, we said “Wow, this is already the last country This is the last week, this is the last stretch.” And we felt the emotion in the last stretch I think most of us were ready for it. That final stretch We’re thinking of where we came from The Pyramids on one end, and then this

Going through the emotions – wow, we completed this trip To me, I felt proud for everybody