About five months ago I signed up to do the full Tour d’Afrique in 2013. http://www.tourdafrique.com/ The music starts in just over two months. To recap: the Tour d’Afrique is a 12,000km bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town. It travels through 10 African countries between January 11 and May 11 2013, averaging 125km a day. I expect there will be 50 riders. We will be supported by a couple of overland vehicles, a tour director, a cook, a mechanic, a nurse – and who knows who else. We camp along the way. So after cycling 130 or 150km we will have to set up tents and make ourselves at home. Water is for drinking not cleaning. We get a couple of rest days for every 10 or 12 cycling days. Approximately 75% of the route is paved, the rest is not – and could be pretty bad.
I have spent the last five months getting ready. It’s been like having a second job. Fundraising (still lots to do), tour admin, training, buying stuff (everything from a new bike to a solar charger), organizing my work life so that I can manage four months off, organizing family life for such a long absence, learning how to set up a blog . . . the list has been long. But as the list shortens the serious work becomes more pressing – training, preparing the head, testing, adjusting and finalizing the bike.
I think my body is ready for it. I was feeling fairly fit by the end of October. But with all of my work travel in November and December (Zimbabwe, DRC, Ghana, London, South Korea) I am feeling a little less sure of myself. I will have to try to get in some good miles in the last couple of weeks of December and then cycle back into fitness in Egypt. I also have a bad habit of not hydrating enough so I have been working on drinking whether I feel I need it or not. Believe it or not that’s tough.
The bike also seems set. I got it at the end of September and put some good miles on it in October, including a hilly, 160km ride in 33OC heat. I think I have enough spares, although I have had far too many pinch punctures. Need to get some advice on this. Perhaps I am not inflating my tires enough – or perhaps too much. Maybe I am not taking the touch road conditions properly. Maybe I need tougher tires, although I have good continental cyclo-cross tires on the new bike and have ordered some Schwab marathons.
And where is the mind? Can I speak of it in the third person? At the moment it is positive, enthusiastic, excited and cautious, which feels like a weird, tight rope kind of mix. It is a long haul, not a sprint. Energy and excitement have to be managed and not just released from the blocks. I am confident I will feel good at the start. I am curious to see how I will feel one week in, one month in, one month to go. I think perhaps you need to be more like Ivan Lendl than John McEnroe. But then McEnroe always looks like he’s having more fun. And it’s got to be about the fun.
This is what the ride looks like.
|Full Tour||Cairo to Capetown||11693km||Jan 11||May 11|
|Pharaohs Delight||Cairo to Khartoum||1955km||Jan 11||Jan. 30|
|The Gorge||Khartoum toAddis Ababa||1604km||Feb. 1||Feb. 18|
|Meltdown Madness||Addis Ababa to Nairobi||1689km||Feb. 20||Mar. 09|
|Masai Steppe||Nairobi to Mbeya||1211km||Mar. 11||Mar. 23|
|Malawi Gin||Mbeya to Lilongwe||750km||Mar. 25||Mar. 31|
|Zambezi Zone||Lilongwe to Victoria Falls||1213km||Apr. 03||Apr. 11|
|Eleplant Highway||Vic Falls to Windhoek||1541km||Apr. 14||Apr. 24|
|Diamond Coast||Windhoek to Cape Town||1732km||Apr. 26||May 11|
This is what the other riders look like. (I picked up this data from Philip Howard’s blog http://www.onyerbikeinafrica.com/blog.html He is a 30 year old Irishman who is also doing the full tour and looks far too fit for his own good. Thanks Philip.)
50 full tour riders
33 men/17 women
15 countries: Canada (10), Britain (7), USA (4), Germany (4), Holland (4), Australia (4), New Zealand (4), Switzerland (3), Ireland (3), Italy (2), Denmark (1), Brazil (1), Belgium (1), Norway (1), South Africa (1)
Ages range from 18-70
teens – 1
20’s – 15
30’s – 8
40’s – 10
50’s – 10
60’s – 5
70’s – 1
I am not exactly sure where I fit in these stats since I travel on both Canadian and UK passports and since I will be 59 at the start but 60 at the end. But it looks like a good mix of nationalities and ages. And it looks like I’ll have lots of company at the geriatric end of the scale.
Two months to go. Got to get a haircut.
Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.