I have just found out that if you have a paypal account you can make a donation directly to my paypal account (I am slowly catching up to the 21st century).
To make a donation to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania and Cycle for Sickle Cell
Go into your paypal account
Choose ‘send money’
Enter my email address: email@example.com
Tick ‘I’m sending money to family or friends’
On May 15th we held a corporate fundraising event for Cycle for Sickle Cell at the Sea Cliff Hotel in Dar es Salaam. Six corporate teams entered 5 man teams in a series a cycling competitions to win prizes donated by sponsors. We raised over 13 million shillings on the night and have now raised over $US31,000 towards our goal of $US50,000 to establish the day treatment centre for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.
Thanks everyone who came, participated and donated
Leaving Cape Town early Monday morning after finishing the race on Saturday was both easy and difficult. It was easy because over the last four months we had all become very adept at packing and sorting and getting to the starting line on time. It was difficult for the same reasons. Routine took over and before I knew it I was on an airplane. Fifty of us had just spent four months living in each other’s pockets. We had developed good friendships, suffered and celebrated together. How do you then say goodbye to somebody you know you may never see again. It all seemed very perfunctory and inadequate. But perhaps that is for the best. The French don’t say goodbye. They say “au revoir,” “until we see each other again.” Holding out this hope, even if we know that in many cases it is an empty hope, and getting back on the freight train of routine may be for the best.
It is perhaps too early to reflect on the last four months. I have now been home for four days and know that I have not yet really begun to absorb the experience. Being back home with Liz and Catherine and Laura is spectacular. Without them I am sure I would feel much more rudderless right now.
The first thing I did when I got home was put my bike back together. It got pretty beat up in the plane. The box was ripped and skewered. But the apart from a punctured tire (valve separated from tube somehow) the bike was more or less ok. I have been out most days since – no long rides, just local rides, doing chores and getting things done. But tomorrow I am going on a 60km off road ride in the Pande Forest with the morning cycling group. I am looking forward to it – even though I still do not have shocks on my front fork. We meet at 6am at the Butcher Shop.
There will be a postscript I am sure.
Day 108, stage 83, 83km
Start, Solitaire Guest Farm Desert Ranch
Finish, Sesriem, Sossusvlei Lodge
Another early morning but at least it was warmer. We are about 700 metres lower today than we were yesterday so it is a bit warmer. Namibia seems to have a booming tourist industry. We cycle for mile after mile and see no signs of habitation or commerce and then all of a sudden, after 60 or 70 or 80km of nothing we come across a luxury lodge. Sesriem is a good example. It is at the gate to a National park that includes the famous Dunes of the Namib dessert. We cycled over 80km from Solitaire and saw nothing. Then all of a sudden we come across the Sossusvlei Lodge just outside the gates of the park. This is not a roughing it in the wilds lodge. This is a fully paid up member of the ‘opulence is great’ club. And it has prices to match – about $300 a night per person, single or sharing. This includes dinner and breakfast. But still, we are in the Namib dessert in the middle of nowhere, Namibia. I went into reception and started to negotiate. In the end I got a room for the equivalent of about £90 a night, including dinner and breakfast. Several other riders took advantage of this rate. But we could only get it for one night (it was a rest day and we would be in Sesriem for two nights) because the next day they had a group of 60 people coming and were fully booked. There isn’t a paved road in a hundred miles! They do have there own landing strip though. The 60 were all being ferried in on small planes. Nowhere is remote these days.
Today was a short cycle and not a particularly difficult one. We had a 30km individual time trial early on and then the naked mile. I had my usual crap time for the time trial. I just do not ride well against the clock. I need to see the bum in front. Too bad we didn’t do the naked mile first. Lots of bums. The time trial took us into an early lunch and then we had a short ride, including the naked mile, to Sesriem after lunch. The naked mile was a rather tame affair. All the men went off in a group, or most of us anyway, and then a mile or so from the lunch stop doffed out kit and posed for photos. James Campbell, a professional photographer who is also one of the riders, lined us up in echelon formation and did the bum shot, then on the side of the road for the full frontal – all very tasteful I am sure. We then road off with the breeze in our dangly bits for a while. To give some comfort to my saddle sore I tied my cycling short around my saddle with the chamois side up. Worked well. Out in the middle of nowhere like this very few vehicles pass you, and when they do they are usually going about 130kmh. during our dangly bits on view period about half a dozen cars passed. They all stopped and stared. Word got to Sesriem before we did. I went into the shop at the camp to buy a coke and the cashier asked me if I had had a nice ride today. ’Yes, thanks.’ ‘And didn’t the hot sun burn your naked skin?’ I could hear the giggles as I walked out the door. Apparently a half hour earlier an older lady had come into the camp and said ‘Close the gates! Close the gates! There are 20 naked madmen riding bicycles towards us!’ the gates were wide one when we arrived.
The women were very organized. They waited till all the men has passed and then doffed their kit and road off as a group for a while. James was the only man allowed within 20 miles. He was invited to be official court photographer, a task he performed reluctantly, I am sure, but with great integrity.
At the Sussusvlei Lodge that night we had a marvelous dinner. In addition to all the starters and soups and salads, there was a bbq that grilled everything you could get at Carnivore’s in Nairobi. There were a dozen different types of game. I had springbok Kudu and warthog – also a couple of pork chops. It was the typical Tour circus, eight or ten of us going back and then back again. I had two starter courses, three full meat courses, several deserts and cheese – also some good South African wine. And the room was marvelous.
Day 121, stage 94, 90km
Start, Municipal Camp Yzerfontein
Finish, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
At 6am on Saturday morning May 11, 2013, the last day of the 2013 Tour d’Afrique, it was freezing cold. There were competing theories. Do you get on your bike early and hope that you will warm up as you cycle, or do you stay wrapped up, wait for the sun to do its work and leave later. In the end most people left early. It had been about 3C when we work up and about 6C at 7:30, by which time most people had left. Once we hit the road the temperature dropped back to 4C. My fingers were frostbitten. It was painful. Fortunately, after only 7 or 8km we came to a farm shop that served tea. We all stopped and entered the warm cocoon for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and scones. The farm shop could have been in Port Dover or some other seaside town in South Western Ontario – full of crafts and curios and preserves and knick-knacks – or even Fanny’s Farm shop in Surrey near our house in Merstham. The only difference was that here you could go out in the back garden and see lions.
Reluctantly we left the warmth of the farm shop and got back on our bikes. We had a full and more or less formal day ahead of us. We had to be at our lunch stop at the beach 60km south of Yzerfontein by 11am for official photos and stuff. We had to be ready for the police led convoy for the final 30km into Cape Town by 12:00 noon. And we had to be at the V&A waterfront amphi-theatre for the closing ceremony by 2pm. It was now a military operation and we had our marching orders. So, off we went.
Many of the younger riders were ready to celebrate. They had bottles of champagne in the bottle racks and camel backs. They were taking photos of anything that moved. They were happy. Many of the older riders were a little more subdued. At the lunch stop I didn’t feel in a celebratory mood at all. I felt happy. I felt pleased with what I had accomplished. But I really just felt like going off and being alone for a while. It was sort of anti-climatic. But I had some champagne that was offered. I had some pictures taken and didn’t skulk off. I had the 30km convoy into town to get into the mood.
Convoys are never fun. They are a necessity, something to be gotten through. This one was no different. We had been told that the convoy would not stop for anyone. If you had a puncture you and your bike would get in the truck. Simple as that. So it was rather ironic that Bridget, who won the women’s race, punctured just as we were setting off. Everything came to a halt. They tried to pump it up. No go. And unused bike was quickly pulled off the truck and she had a new ride. We were just starting up again when there was a cry from Tess at the back: “oh no! My chain just broke!”. Unbelievable but true. A quick fix and five minutes later we are finally on our way. And so it goes. The police took us along the bus lanes, through every red light and to the heart of the V&A by 1:45pm. Mission accomplished. I had finished. I had achieved EFI.
We parked out bikes, came back to the amphitheater, were handed champagne in Styrofoam cups and a handful of pretzels and the show began. Flags, some speeches, some medals and awards, a band, strangers cheering – all very ‘celebrity envy’ stuff. The 30km hadn’t shifted my mood that much. I slipped away to the hotel as soon as I could. I had a few hours to myself before the closing party.
Thankfully the party was very informal, lots of milling and chatting and drinking; then some eating, then a slide show of some really very good photos many people had taken over the last 4 months. Alex B gave a good tribute to staff and Phil Howard sang a song he had written about the Tour that was great fun. A DJ took over and we all bopped for a while. I was back at the hotel and in bed by midnight. Many of the younger riders – champagne still in camel backs for all I know – went off to clubs. I believe most were eventually able to find their way back to the hotel.
Tomorrow is sorting, packing and saying goodbye to good friends. Early Monday morning I go to the airport for my flight back to Dar.