Into Khartoum

Day 20, Stage 15, 90km with 25km individual time trial

Start – Desert Camp

Finish – Khartoum, Blue Nile Sailing Camp, Bouganvilla Guest House

Today was to be a short day. It was a cool morning. The desert storm had blown in a cool front. We would start with a 5km warm up ride, then do a 25km individual time trial, then do another 40km into the lunch stop on the outskirts of Khartoum. After that it was a police led convoy through Khartoum to camp at the Blue Nile Sailing Club.

I still felt good and decided to do the time trial. I was not going to kill myself but I wanted to push myself a bit beyond my normal pace to see how I felt. In the end I felt good. I did the 25km in somewhat over 42 minutes. Not fast in the scheme of things but I was happy with it after a week running on low. Pascal, the winner of the time trial did it in a whisker over 30 minutes. He won by over three minutes. Very fast. Bas, one of the young Dutchman, pushed himself very hard, did it in something over 33 minutes and then puked his guts out. He was fine immediately afterwards. It was good fun.

Alex and I headed out as people were mulling around the finish line and set a good brisk pace to the lunch stop at 70km. To out surprise, nobody passed us. We were the very first riders to arrive at lunch. That position is usually reserved for the fast racers. It was a good day.

Convoys are always a bit of a pain. You have to stay in a relatively tight formation. You have to follow the police escort. There is a fair bit of slowing and accelerating and slowing again as they try to keep the group together. The advantage is that it gets us through busy areas painlessly and without having to fight unruly traffic.

Liz had found a nice guesthouse for us in Khartoum. In the end about 256 of us stayed there. So after arriving at the Blue Nile Sailing club we shifted into tour guide mode, gathering people and bags together, arranging transport, counting heads and counting again. We all got there. It is a lovely place. A great break.

I also called Phyllida’s friend Katya, who is based in Dar with the WHO. We arranged to have dinner together. Vince came along as well. We did the full expat thing- big hamburgers, fruit juice and ice cream. It was great after ten days in the desert and on a packet boat. We slept well.

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