One country down, nine to go.
One country down and it feels like a month already. With just over 1000kms and Egypt behind us we are reminded that this tour is not for the faint hearted. The pavement has been smooth but the winds have been fierce. The pedal along the Red Sea was desolate. Many resorts were optimistically built here years ago but political issues have kept the anticipated guests away. So you spin by these beautiful resorts – some looking like they were just finished, others starting to gradually fall apart. Windy campsites were out in the barren desert overlooking the Red Sea and the many oil platforms just off the coast. At night the number of stars populating the cold night sky was unbelievable.
After 4 days along the cost the route turned inland and the cyclists headed west into their first climbing and first headwinds. By the second day they had reached the Nile where, away from the desert, warmer temperatures and a lush landscape featured little villages, sugar cane fields and palm trees around every turn in the road. These were happy days for the riders as coke shops and shaded roadways are always a welcome sight, helping to ease the 100+km days.
The TDA cyclists also were treated to tuna, honey, peanut butter & Nutella sandwiches for lunch, friendly Egyptian hospitality in the tea stops and morning wake-up calls at 5am courtesy of the local roosters, dogs and Mosques.
The overall pace has been quick but not without a few hiccups. The official ‘flat tire’ competition is on. Coming in first place with a landslide victory is Tessa Melck with a whopping 8 flats. Runners-up in a tie for second are Marco and Stig with a total of 5 each and third place is shared equally between Wayne, Alex Morier and Silvia with a mere 4 apiece. The real winner here is of coarse Bas, who wins the ‘most flats fixed’ competition, helping riders left and right get back on the road in good time.
Soon the riders entered Luxor, the site of the first of their 25 rest days. Many riders headed to the Karnak and Luxor temples or simply wandered into the city to check out the many markets and restaurants that the city has to offer. Rested, the cyclists then sped south through the city of Idfu where some of them enjoyed a local football (soccer to you Yanks) game between the local team and their rivals from up the river in Aswan.
Pulling into Aswan it suddenly struck the riders that their time in Egypt was drawing to a close…and that after another rest day drinking gin & tonics or cans of Stella in restaurants overlooking the Nile, they would be boarding the Lake Nasser ferry for the journey into the Sudan.