Tag Archives: EFI

List of lists

I can feel time passing quickly. Even though the start of the ride is still four months away it is beginning to feel very imminent. It has reached the point where I am making lists of lists. I have a list of spares; a list of camping stuff; a list of clothes; a list of cycling gear; a list of medications; a list of electronic stuff.

One big piece of luck has come my way though. Two Australians who did the full TdA in 2010 are passing through Dar Es Salaam at the moment. I was put in touch through a friend. They are all coming over for dinner tonight – and we will go through the lists. Kind of like asking friends to come see the slides from your trip with the kids to Disney World. But hey. They get a free dinner.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Training: Pande Forest Loop

I have had a few good rides this week but the toughest was undoubtedly the Pande Forest Loop yesterday – a 70 km ride with 50 km off road and well over 1000 metres of climb in the hills of the Pande Forest behind Dar Es Salaam. I went with Chris and Dan. Chris had a full suspension mountain bike. Dan was also on a mountain bike. I was on my hybrid with the 1.35 road tires. Not the best choice. The off road bits were very technical. Lots of sand. Lots of deep ruts and gullies, including one crevice about two feet wide, ten feet deep and forty feet long at the side of a single track. Lots of branches and thorns. Lots of very steep descents followed by equally steep ascents. Many must have been 15 degrees plus. It was grueling. The whole ride took 5 hours. I lost most of my time going down the hills. With the steepness and the sand I was afraid of wiping out on my narrow tires. Chris and Dan had no such fears. They blasted down the hills like kids leaving the classroom on the last day of school. I felt like the teacher, worn out at the end of a long year, trying to maintain my decorum and not collapse in a heap. I did find out that the hybrid can do these very technical tracks but not with any speed. So do I need to rethink my choice of a cyclo cross bike for the TdA? Should I get a hard tail? Shit. Thought I had made my decision. Off on an easier but longer ride to South Beach tomorrow.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Sorry to be late

Sorry I have been silent for so long. I have been away on holiday for almost a month and have just returned to Tanzania. But I am now back at work and the kids are back at school. Time to think about bikes again.

While I was away I visited a few bike shops on the off chance that something that hadn’t come up during my research would jump out and say ‘buy me’.  But it didn’t happen.  So, after looking at a dozen or more options and seriously considering three, I have decided to get the Genesis croix-de-fer https://alanknighttourdafrique.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=177&action=edit . It is the closest to what I have been thinking of and nobody has suggested it is a bad idea.

I have now been in touch with a bike shop in the UK that I have used often in the past and asked them to see what they can do for a full bike plus spares package. Hopefully it will all be set up and with me by the end of September so that I can put a few miles on it before the TdA starts.

All of a sudden January doesn’t seem that far away. I have now sent in almost all of my forms and other paperwork to the good folks in Toronto who run the TdA. I am sure they try to keep bureaucracy to a minimum but there is still a fare bit of bumph:1) RIDER CONTRACT; 2) RIDER RELEASE; 3) HEALTH AND FITNESS QUESTIONNAIRE; 4) RIDER INFORMATION; 5) NEXT OF KIN INFORMATION; 6) INSURANCE INFORMATION; 7) TOUR INFORMATION; 8) BICYCLE INFORMATION; 9) FUNDRAISING INFORMATION; 10) GETTING TO KNOW OUR CLIENTS FORM; 11) RIDER QUESTIONNAIRE; 12) PHOTO AND TEXT FOR THE TdA WEBSITE; 13) COPIES OF PASSPORTS.

It is now time to start compiling lists of all the other things I will need. I can’t wait. When will I have time to ride my bike?

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Just keep walking

Søren Kierkegaard, the early 19th century Danish philosopher and father of existentialism (the starting point of thinking is the individual and the experiences of the individual), once wrote:

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.

Kierkegaard was born at almost exactly the same time as the invention of the bicycle. If he had been a little more technologically curious I am sure he would have replaced walk and walking with cycle and cycling.

Implicit in this thought, however, is the realization that walking/cycling is good for your head and not just your body.  It provides a way to enter a contemplative space that is not easy to find.

It also implicitly debunks the default notion that contemplation is all about stillness. It recognises that the contemplation of stillness can be a descent into crippling abstraction, while the contemplation of movement is an ascent into a fecund feedback loop with the experiential evidence of life.

The irony of course is that Kierkegaard died at 42 (1813 – 1855). He should have bought a bike.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Final Edit – TdA SCFT film

Donate now

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Alan Knight rides the Tour d’Afrique for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

January 11 – May 11, 2013

“The Tour d’Afrique has been described as ‘the longest and most difficult bike race in the world’.”

David Houghton, rode the Tour d’Afrique in 2005

and then wrote a book about it, The EFI Club

Alan Knight, an experienced long distance cyclist, will ride the 2013 edition of the Tour d’Afrique. The annual Tour d’Afrique is an 11,718 km bicycle expedition and race crossing ten African countries from Cairo to Cape Town in four months.

This physically and mentally challenging expedition will mark a major milestone for Alan, who will turn 60 during the ride, and who has committed his efforts to provide an opportunity for himself and others to support the incredible work of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Sickle Cell Disease is particularly prevalent in African countries that have a high incidence of malaria. Tanzania, where Alan currently lives, has the 4th highest number of people suffering from sickle cell disease in the world. In Tanzania up to 11,000 children are born every year with this inherited disease. But due to lack of early diagnosis and treatment as many as 90% of them will die before they are 18. With early diagnosis and treatment they can expect to live longer and more productive lives.

Alan’s goal is to raise US$50,000 to build and equip a 12-bed day treatment centre for sickle cell sufferers in Tanzania. Currently in Dar Es Salaam, sickle cell patients are treated at a general purpose clinic at the Muhimbili hospital only two days a week. A dedicated day treatment centre, open every day, could potentially increase treatment capacity by over 500%.

Dr. Julie Makani, the Founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania has set up a world-class research and treatment facility for sickle cell disease in Dar Es Salaam. Dr. Makani’s work was recently recognised when she was awarded the Royal Society Pfizer Award in 2011 for her outstanding research into using anaemia in sickle cell disease as a model for translating genetic research into health benefits. But the work has only just started.

Alan’s participation in the 2013 Tour d’Afrique provides a unique opportunity to recognise and align your organisation with outstanding work by Africans in Africa on an important African health issue, and to make a real and measurable difference in the lives of many Tanzanians.

You, your staff, colleagues, and clients will be able to follow Alan’s progress on his blog and gain recognition through messages, videos, media, and logo placement. You and your organisation will also be recognised by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

The campaign has already started and will last at least ten months. Join us and the many other supporters and funders of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania. Your sponsorship will make an enormous difference in so many lives in Tanzania.

Is this the bike? (2)

Genesis croix-de-fer

It’s a steely – a softer ride

It has good mechanical disk breaks

Shimano Tiagra group set – not high spec, nothing fancy, but adequate

Probably not the lightest bike

Needs different tires

May need a different saddle

Not the prettiest bike – but who cares

Frame and Fork


Reynolds 725 Steel




1-1/8 Threadless





Shimano Tiagra 10spd STi

Rear Derailleur

Shimano Tiagra 10spd

Front Derailleur

Shimano Tiagra 10spd


Shimano Tiagra Compact

Bottom Bracket



Shimano Tiagra 10spd


Shimano Tiagra 10spd 12-28



Shimano M475


Alex XD-Lite


Stainless Black


Continental Cyclocross Race



Avid BB-7

Brake Levers

Shimano Tiagra STi

Contact Zone


Genesis 6061 Alloy Drop


Genesis Alloy


Shockproof Brown Tape


Genesis Road CrMo Rail

Seat Post

Genesis 6061 27.2mm


Shimano PDM-520

Don’t forget to watch the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania fundraising film

Alan Knight Tour d’Afrique 2013 on Vimeo

And please make a donation if you can.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Bums or Clocks

Do you chase bums or clocks? I am not a racer. But I do check my performance today against my performance yesterday and the day before.  It helps to motivate and it gives a sense of achievement. If I know it took me 13 minutes to get up a certain hill the last time I rode it and only 12 minutes today, I am happy – even if somebody’s grandfather left me standing half way up. So I look at the clock, but not only the clock. I also enjoy riding with a group because I often find that somehow I ride better with a group. So what drives better performance? Riding against the clock and pacing yourself to challenge your personal best? Or chasing the bum in front, that is, riding with a group and working to support and push a pace?

In a fascinating article in the July/August issue of Walrus (“Racing Against Time” www. Walrusmagazine.com ) Alex Hutchinson looks at recent research into what drives best performance. In the past, performance was evaluated in relation to physical capacity and limits. Training was designed to increase capacity and limits and improvement was measured against the clock. Race strategy was based on performing at the edge of your limits so you could achieve the best time possible based on your capacity.  The limits to capacity were understood by measuring when and to what extent muscle, heart and lung performance began to drop off. This drop off was understood to be a purely physical phenomenon.

As Hutchinson points out however, new research, much of it lead by a physiologist named Tim Noakes who runs the University of Cape Town’s Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit and who Hutchinson characterizes as ‘a controversial exercise physiologist whom some peg as the greatest of his generation,’ suggests the mind is an equally important player. In the article we follow the Canadian marathon runner Reid Coolsaet as he attempts to meet the qualifying time for the London 2012 Olympics. The Olympic qualifying time is 2:11:29. This is new territory for Coolsaet. He has trained hard to achieve a pace of 3:05 per km over the 42.2 km race. His race strategy is to set and maintain that pace.

The race is the 2011 Toronto marathon. The field includes several Kenyans and Ethiopians capable of running 2:05 to 2:08. The night before the race Coolsaet goes to his coach and says he wants to throw the plan away and run with the leaders. He does and comes third, well under the Olympic qualifying time; and this included a stop at 22km to take a dump.

What Noakes’ research has discovered is that performance limits are not purely physical. When you chase the clock, the mind closes down effort before the muscles are damaged. But with the added motivation of living competition the mind will alter the thresholds and enable more effort.

So my hope is that riding with the rest of the Tour d’Afrique riders will provide the extra motivation to pass the EFI threshold. One can always hope.