Day 19, Stage 14, 146km
Start – Desert Storm Desert Camp
Finish – Desert Camp
In spite of having to dig out from under a sand dune I felt much better today. The recovery day seems to have been the right thing to do. The sand storm was not yet over. Breaking camp and getting on the road was a challenge. Because the visibility was so low and because the wind was often a side wind and there was the danger posed by wind and increasing traffic, the race was cancelled for the day – we still rode the distance but were simply not timed. We cycled single file and kept our distance from one another. Riding through a sandstorm is an other-wordly experience. You can’t see far; the wind is blowing sand across you; the sky is dark. It’s a four horsemen and the end-of-the world feeling. It is also somehow very comforting, almost womb-like.
I rode well today. Once again I rode with a group before the lunch stop. I didn’t stay long and left on my own. My experience of the last week or so had suggested that my energy level would be lower after lunch. I decided I would keep my own pace again. But I felt good and rode well. With about 15km to go Vince, Bridget and Wayne – all fast riders – caught me up. But instead of letting them pass I rode with them and had a good skate for the last 15km. I had energy in reserve again. I was happy.
We arrived in camp early, went through the routine and went in search of cold drinks. The sand storm had died by this time. The mutated date palm pollinating fruit flies had buggered off. All was well.
For dinner we had spaghetti. Perfect. I was hungry – for the first time in a long time. And for the first time since the tour began I had a second helping. The appetite was back. There is still a long way to go before I catch up with some of the others though. John Chevis has been having three helpings of everything since day one. He has no shortage of energy. Something to aspire to.