Getting Started

A couple of months ago I decided that I needed a challenge for my 60th birthday, which happens early in 2013. I am not sure whether it was by luck or folly that I came across the Tour d’Afrique. And I can’t recall exactly how I first came across it – must be a sign of age. I currently live in Africa so I was probably googling cycling tours in Africa. But also, Mark, a friend who I cycle with, wore a Tour d’Afrique jersey when we went out for a ride one morning. He had done a section in 2010 and loved it. A few days later my wife mentioned that Georgina, a triathlete and colleague of hers, had also done a section in 2010. We invited her over to dinner and got the worst – and the best – of it. It seemed fated. And then when I discovered that the whole thing was run by a small company in Toronto – my home town, even though I haven’t lived there for many years – it became increasingly inevitable. I don’t believe for a minute in fate. But I do have a grudging respect for coincidence. The morning after dinner with Georgina I registered for the full ride.

So the planning has begun. I have been to the dentist. I have a full medical next Tuesday. I have purchased travel and emergency medical insurance. I have begun to assemble lists.

What I haven’t settled on yet is the bike. I currently have a number of bikes: three road bikes, a nice Condor that is only a couple of years old, a cheap BTwin from Decathlon that I bought in France and leave at our holiday house, and a very comfortable 25 year old steel Peugeot that I recently rebuilt with new wheels, crank, group set etc. – good for winter riding; a couple of touring bikes, a 10 year old Dawes Galaxy with lots of miles on it – but fairly heavy, and an almost thirty year old Japanese Miyata that still rides very well; an old mountain bike built before they invented shocks; and a newish Trek hybrid that I cycle around the rough roads of Dar Es Salaam where I live.

It was clear to me that none of these was right for 12000 km of Africa. I am inclined to get a cyclo cross rather than a hybrid or touring bike. Steel would be good but aluminum o.k. Nothing fancy. Good mechanical disk brakes seem like a good idea. But…. still not sure. Will work on it.

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10 responses to “Getting Started

  1. WOW! Where was the picture taken?

  2. On the Canal du Midi near a village called Le Somail – great place to cycle on the tow paths with the kids.

  3. Alicia Calane

    Well done Alan,
    Seems that in the end you can also open a shop 🙂
    Good luck

  4. 12,000 km is almost half as far as Sande and I drove around the west in the last 4 months: that is a huge bike ride. But if anyone I know can do it, I think you can.

    (I think Alicia means a bike shop. You do have a lot of bikes.)

  5. Have a look at this section:

    Malawi Gin Mbeya to Lilongwe 750km Mar. 25 Mar. 31

    Could stop at Dar and see Liz and the girls beforehand.

  6. Hey, have you looked at the Surly Long Haul Trucker? It’s what my brother Rod now uses for his long-distance rides. Strong like bull, but maybe you don’t need it if you aren’t carrying a lot of baggage…

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