Day 15, Stage 11 – 113km (with 25km team time trial)
Start: Desert Camp by Nile
Finish: Dongola, Camp at Zoo, Olla Hotel
I knew we had a 25km tram time trial today and was a little worried about recovery time. So were many others. I think 14 teams signed up but only 8 ended up racing. We put together the ‘All Africa’ team: myself from Tanzania, Bridget and Tessa from South Africa and Ahmed from Egypt. In the end I woke up feeling better than I deserved to. We decided we would race after all and left early. The idea was not to kill ourselves but to keep a steady pace of around 30kmh, which we did. About 10km from the end we were caught by the German team led by Tobias, who is running 2nd overall in the men’s race. We latched onto their tale and rode with them for the next 5 or 6 km. At this point Ahmed thought there was only 1km left so he pulled out at about 40kmh and started a sprint and the ‘All Africa’ team followed. It was way too early. Tobias knew this so happily let us pull until about 800 metres from the end. He then pulled out at speed and it was a free for all to the finish line. I sprinted forward and came third in the pack of ten. Team ‘All Africa’ ended up coming 6th on the day in a time of 50:19, or almost exactly the 30kmh we had set out to do.
After a few minutes rest we cycled at a fast pace in a large group of a dozen or so the remaining 40km to lunch. Once again I was not hungry. Racing and then working in a fast-paced group, I had not had enough to drink. I did not eat lunch, just a couple of oranges and a banana. There was only another 45km to go but I took it slowly and stopped three times for a drink. I really noticed the lack of energy. I ended up doing the last 15 or so km into Dongola with Stig from Norway and another 4 or 5 people. I felt pretty good, certainly better than yesterday. Vince had come in earlier with the fast boys and had already arranged a hotel room for us. We sorted our gear and headed into town to the Olla Hotel, pretty basic stuff and probably a brothel. But it had running water, most of the time, and electricity. For £4 a night it worked.
Dinner was a feast: flat bread, onions, tomatoes, greens, platters full of fried fish, a half chicken stuffed with rice for each of us. I ate it all, trying to make up for my calorie deficit. And drank three bottles of mineral water to wash it all down.