Day 9, Stage 8 – 113km
Start – Idfu, camp in football stadium
Finish – Aswan – Sara Hotel and camp by football stadium
I felt fine when I woke up and left in a group of about half a dozen riders. But I soon realized that there was no zip in my legs today. In fact, they felt like lead. I rode with the group for about 25km and then dropped off. I just couldn’t keep a pace that the day before was no problem. So I struggled and rode by myself for most of the day – no problem with health or stamina, just no power. At about 92 km I spotted a coke fridge at a gas station and pulled in, hoping for a bit of a sugar lift. I don’t think the gas station was operating. It’s likely they had no petrol. There were no cars. And whenever we passed a station that had petrol there was a long line of cars and trucks. I poked my head into the building and saw a kid of about fifteen sleeping on a bench at the back. He roused himself and came out. Another younger kid then appeared from around the side of the building. The coke fridge had a big lock on it. After a humorous exchange of single words and mime we all agreed that I was not going to get a coke because the man with the key to the fridge was asleep and they were definitely not going to wake him up. So it was back on the bike and back on the road. No coke. No sugar hit.
Just about this time Alex, a 65 year old Canadian, was passing, so I linked up with him for the final 20km into Aswan, with only one glitch. We each have a little magnetic button that we use to clock in and out each day. We touch the button to a little black box when we leave and then again when we finish. Unfortunately, today I rode right past the little black box. About a kilometer past the box I looked back and couldn’t see Alex so I slowed and waited for him. He told me what I had missed. So back I went. My legs thanked my eyes for being so observant.
In Aswan I went off with Vince again to look for a hotel – Sunday is a rest day. We found a nice place up on a hill overlooking the Nile. Once again the lack of tourists was very evident. The Hotel Sara must have two hundred rooms. It was all but empty. We checked in, paid our money and went to fetch our bags. I was really looking forward to a hot shower after a less then fun day. A minute and a half into a hot shower the water went off. As it turned out, a main that serves that part of Aswan had burst and there was no water in the whole area. Great. But the manager was on the case. He called the water utility and promised us water within half an hour. He was as good as his word. The delayed gratification only increased the pleasure.
In the evening we walked into the centre of town and ended up in a restaurant on a barge on the Nile. The fresh squeezed orange juice was some of the best I have ever had. I drank four large glasses, ate one small mushroom pizza and felt good again.
Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.