Posted by: Dana | 2010/02/04

Feb 4 – From Khartoum, baby!!

It looks like I finally had *some* success posting photos.  Of course, not all of the photos I uploaded posted, and the captions got merged and messed up so some photos have no captions, and others have the wrong captions!  O well.  Bear with me.  This is Africa.  And, I’m a technological nightmare.

We are here in Khartoum.  After cycling four more days through incredible Sudanese desert, we arrived in convoy (a tedious, hot, and long convoy through a very hectic city) to Khartoum.  I don’t have as much time as I would like to write a proper update, so I’ll provide the quick and dirty and will write more when I can.

The past few days in Sudan, since our last rest day in Dongola, have been marked by extreme heat.  We had a few long days of riding, the most enjoyable of which I rode with a girl gang (lovely women on tour!) for 158 km.  We set out very early, as soon as the sun provides enough light to safely ride, and try to move quickly in the morning hours.  But each afternoon, we’re met with extreme heat and sun–and this is winter!!!  By the time we arrive in camp in the afternoon, the heat is cooking and there is nowhere to hide.  I suppose it’s better not to be riding during those late afternoon hours, but the scene at camp is pretty bleak.  People can barely function and lay around in the tiny blocks of shade we can find from the tarps hanging from the trucks, or sometimes under the trucks themselves.  We had the unfortunate situation of a sand storm to add to the heat the other day, which made for a truly lovely afternoon!  Coated with sweat, suncream, and sand, I just laid around camp with everyone else.  Once the sun sets, we come back to life and can visit with local villagers or just hang out with other riders.

We started yesterday morning with a 20km time trial.  Don’t ask why but there is an element of competition which some folks enjoy.  I typically try to stay as far away from this as possible, but I did participate in the time trial.  It was meant to be an early morning individual challenge–with sore legs from the previous days’ riding–20km as fast as we can.  It was actually quite fun.  Then we met up at the lunch stop some 40km later to travel in convoy into Khartoum.  It is a logistical marvel that TDA is able to coordinate with local police to support our convoy into the city!  It is miraculous that they pulled this off successfully–ushering some 50+ riders and multiple vehicles through the dirty, crowded, dusty streets of the outskirts of Khartoum, and then into the city itself.  We settled into a camp that looks like a cross between a juvenile detention center and a sports camp, pitched tents, and showered.  Dinner last night was a highlight–I walked with a group of other riders out to the street and found some incredible street food.  Just a week ago, I would have been wary to eat such a meal, but already feeling a little local, we dug in and ate ourselves silly and had the best mango juice ever.  The locals were as hospitable and as friendly as we’ve grown accustomed to them being…but they are almost entirely men.  Especially at night, it’s rare to see women out and about on the streets or in restaurants.  It’s just men.

The next week is one of the longest stretches of the tour without a rest day.  7 days of riding which will take us through Dinder National Park in Sudan (where we hear we may see lions), off of the pavement, and into the mountains of Ethiopia.  It’s hard to know what long miles on unpaved roads will do to our bodies and our bikes, but I can only imagine it’s going to be rough.  Add to the mix more severe illness, which we hear is unavoidable in Ethiopia, it may be a complete shit-show.  Literally.  We hit higher altitudes, which will help alleviate the heat, but will add a new dimension of climbing to the mix.  I’m kind of excited to start climbing–I remember the excitement of the Cascades and then the Tetons on the US ride.  It will likely be at least another week before my next post…My focus will be on staying healthy and strong and I will try not to completely gross myself out without a shower for so many days.  My hair clumps up and I try not to touch it.  Ok, I guess that’s too much info for now, back to the bike.  Maintenance and cleaning to do before we set off tomorrow morning. 

Thanks, all, for comments on the blog and emails!!  Truly appreciate the support from back home.  xoxo


Responses

  1. Loving these reports, Dana! We are all with you in spirit and sending LOTS of love. If we could also send you a cool breeze on those hot days, we would. Keep those pedals turning:)

  2. Dana… I am following you as a friend of your Aunt Marge. What an exciting adventure! What a wonderful cause! I get goosebumps at some of what you are seeing and can barely imagine your excitement at seeing it all firsthand. Great reports on a great adventure. Thanx and be well.
    karen

  3. quite incredible Dana….I can’t imagine being up for such a challenge. I love your posts and pictures.
    Barb

  4. Hi Dana, this is so amazing! I’m really in awe of what you are doing. We are in the middle of a blizzard here in DC. Think about the snow you are missing when it gets too hot!

  5. Love your posts. Amazing! You are a lucky lady. Alisha

  6. In sunny Aruba and thnking of you. Be well. ILY

  7. Dana,
    I too got involved with your trip due to Auntie Marge. As I read your account of the trip thus far, I realize what a determined and strong woman you are (again,nothing I haven’t heard from my “old” college roommate.) I will love tuning in this next week or two to hear how you did with avoiding that dreaded “revenge”. Hope you packed some pepto-bismol. How boring life back home will seem once you return. We all look forward to those visuals although your descriptions are terrific. Be Well.
    Joan Reynolds

  8. Dane,

    I am completely struck – but not in the least bit surprised – at your tenacity. The Blog is amazing, and sharing the gory details not only paints a vivid picture (it even smells gross!), but gives us fodder to antagonize you with later. So out with it – all of it! We wait with bated breath, Sassy!

    Much love, Nicole


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