April 23rd - May 9
Tour D'Afrique Pre Information
1,913 km 15 days riding 3 days rest
Average km per riding 128km (78 miles)
Andy’s party was enjoyed by everybody and some of us drank too much. I do not remember getting back to the lodge were we stayed but I managed to get my laundry back. Then I laid on my bed and went to sleep.
Johan tried to wake me up but I was deeply asleep. I missed dinner and woke up at 1 AM and then I decided to update Facebook with Andy’s engagement party. The internet was a little better and I was able to upload some pictures. Went back to bed and woke up at 5:30AM, then I took shower and went to the camp to put my bag in the locker.
The other riders were leaving the camp on bikes as I was coming in. Johan and I went for breakfast at the restaurant and had a really good meal. We then started cycling around 8AM.
It was the first stage of our last section called Diamond Coast. Alex changed my tires to wider ones and it is the last time on the tour he will be changing them. I will ride on these until Cape Town. The remaining route is mostly with off road conditions and only a few paved sections. The landscape is changing and the views are beautiful. The country looks empty with no people on the roads and no villages like in the countries before. I saw baboons crossing the road a few times.
We started cycling on a paved road for the first 11km and at that point the gravel road started with a lot of bumps, corrugations and sand pits. We did some climbing with grades above 8% and this camp is at 1620m above sea level. At some point we cycled to elevation at 1900m.
When I got to camp it was late around 5PM as we decided to take couple of stops under trees. We also took a long lunch stop. At the camp there were rooms and Johan managed to make reservations for us.
Total ascent today was 1093m and total distance travelled was 114km. I cycled for 6hrs and 30 min, my avg. speed was 17.5km/hr., and my max speed was 49.8km/hr.
It was a long day on the bike today, but it was the day I will remember. The scenery was picturesque. We cycled with off road conditions for the whole day. We also had some climbing till 75km and then we had sharp descent. I recorded on my computer bike that it was 21 deg. down. But the views were incredible and I had to stop a few times to take a pictures.
Today was also the day that the wrong directions were put on the board. The board said we had to turn right after the camp but in reality it was corrected later to a left turn. The correction was not communicated properly and one rider took the wrong turn and he cycled an extra 11km before turning back, so in total he added 22km. I did not miss the turn because I found out about the change from a fellow rider.
I arrived at the camp and it turned out that the rooms Johan booked were not available. He negotiated with the management of the lodge and in the end they give us two single rooms plus free drinks at the bar while they were preparing rooms. It was done without raising any voices, just negotiating.
Today we cycled total of 123km. I rode 7hrs and 15min with avg. speed 17km/hr. and max. speed of 55.8km/hr. We also noted that we crossed The Tropic of Capricorn as we went through the mountains at Spreetshoogte Pass.
Today was a short run of just over 80km but the last 10km was difficult because of the road conditions. There was a lot of corrugation and sand on the last stretch of today’s run. Also today we had individual time trials starting at 15 km and going for another 30km. This meant that today’s cycling was divided into 3 sections.
First 15km I cycled for 52min with an avg. speed of 17.4km/hr. and max speed 34km/hr. Then the time trial for 29km that took 1hr 28min with my avg. speed of 20.1km/hr. and max speed of 39.8km/hr. Finally I cycled to the camp for another 39km and my avg. speed was 17.8km/hr. and max speed was 40.4km/hr. and I spent on bike another 2hrs and 10 min.
The views were very scenic and I stopped a few times to take pictures. After lunch at the end of time trial we had a so called naked mile. It is a custom on TDA tour to ride for a mile naked. I did it and Steve took some pictures of me riding the bicycle naked.
We arrived at the camp and they have some chalets right in the park. They provided transportation to the chalets and they were placed just to have a beautiful view of the sunsets over the desert.
We had our rest day in this beautiful cabin in the park. The views from the cabin were incredible and especially sunsets.
I woke up at 4AM and we had arranged to go to dunes. We drove to the dunes and then we climbed on the top of one of them. There we watched the sunrise and later went down to the dead trees forest. Apparently, the trees are 600 years old. I took a lot of pictures and some of them will be posted on Facebook and on my blog. Unfortunately the internet is still too slow to do that.
As per TDA, it was one of the most difficult stages on the tour. It really was. All 136 km was on gravel road that turned into loose gravel, sand sections and corrugated stretches of road. It was difficult to navigate and I cycled on both sides of the road and also in the middle just to look for the best spots to ride my bike.
All the hardship was compensated by incredible views of the mountains and dunes on the horizon. We also saw some animals away from the road. Today quite a few people did not ride their bicycles but decided to go on the truck. At 22km we had a coke stop at a lodge that was like a castle. The owner came and talked to us. He was from Holland and the lodge was really impressive. I had coffee and fruit juice that was really good.
I managed to complete today’s ride and came into camp after everybody had finished dinner. I got an ovation while entering the camp. I feel better than the guy who won the race today. The staff put aside dinner for me and it was a good steak.
The camp had a few rooms and again Johan managed to book the rooms for us.
From today’s run the total distance travelled was 136km and on the bike I spent 8hrs 15min. My avg. speed was 16.5km/hr. and max. speed was 42.1km/hr. The total ascent was 879m with some steep sections at a grade app. 6%.
It was supposed to be the easier day then yesterday. In reality the road conditions were bad and it looks like they did not re-grade the road. We had a lot of sections with deep sand and no place to ride. I had to walk with my bike quite a few times as I could not get through these sections. The sand was really deep and there was no place to ride.
There was some climbing to do and it was a steady climb from 54k to 69km. My bike showed max. grade 12%. It was long run until lunch at 79km. I cycled today with Elliot and we took it easy. After lunch we rode to a coke stop and we found a nice restaurant in this small place. I ate meat loaf and also got a couple of beers.
It was getting late, just 2 hours before sunset and we still had to cycle over 50km. We decided to take the TDA SUV to the camp. As it turned out we did all the hard sections and the road conditions were much better with no climbing after the last coke stop.
Johan booked the cabins for us and we had a nice warm area to sleep. Unfortunately the cabins were without showers and toilets. Still it was better the being in our tents as it is getting cold at night and in the morning it is only around 5 deg. C.
So today I have cycled only 103km and it took me 7hrs. and 50min. My avg. speed was 15km/hr. and max speed was 42.7km/hr. Again the landscape was picturesque and I took some pictures but the internet still is not working.
It was a nice ride today and we had 31km of off road conditions. Then we got a break and cycled on paved road. I cycled today with Dick, Jaap, Rosa (Dick’s daughter), Marcel and Johan. We had a fun ride and we stopped at the 31km mark. I ate a burger at the small restaurant by a gas station. The landscape is slowly changing to more of a desert type one.
Today we cycled 125km and I spent 5hrs and 13min. My avg. speed was 24.1km/hr. and max speed 51km/hr. Total ascent was above 500m and quite few sections with grade 5 to 7%. We had a fun riding the steep sections by making it a competition with runs to the top of the climbing sections.
Nice place today and Johan managed to get the rooms so a shower and a good night’s sleep.
Today’s run was only 93 km and it was short run as we needed time to get to Fish River Canyon. It is the second deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon. I booked a tour to the canyon for 2PM.
I decided to eat breakfast at the Seeheim restaurant and then start riding. The breakfast at camp is hard to call breakfast. I started cycling at 8AM and until lunch at the 65km mark it was a gravel road with some corrugation sections and small sand patches.
It took me 3hrs and 39min. to go part of the way and I still had a bit more to travel to get to the lunch stop. It was close to 12 PM so for last 28km I got on the lunch truck and again it was an easy portion. I have no choice since I wanted to see Fish canyon.
With a truck I arrived around 1PM and put my stuff in the room with thanks to Johan as he had arranged one. I got a shower and it was time to get into the car for a ride to the canyon. It was worthwhile seeing and I took some pictures. The canyon looked spectacular and scenery was beautiful to watch. Later in the evening we had a good dinner, a few beers plus a glass of wine and maybe one or two too many.
Today I cycled only 65km and my avg. speed was 17.9km/hr. The max speed was 33.5km/hr. and the total ascent was 225m.
I woke up at 5AM with a headache and then I decided to skip the ride today. It was too much for me to ride and not feeling well. It was a good decision as the ride was difficult with 172km to cycle.
I needed two days of rest and it is our last rest stop before Cape Town. I arrived at the camp and thanks to Johan as he booked the cabins for us couple of weeks earlier and they were fully booked. Other people on our tour could not get rooms when they arrived.
The view outside of the cabins is picturesque. I am just beside the Orange River and on the other side of the river is South Africa. We will have a rest day tomorrow and I am planning to do nothing but rest before the last stretch of 7 days cycling to Cape Town. Again there is no internet. I did manage to take some pictures of the river at sunset and during the day. We had a nice dinner with glass of wine at the bar.
We started our last stretch of the tour after a nice day of rest with 7 days without a break to Cape Town in South Africa. This is the 10th and last country that I crossed on our tour.
This last section will be mostly on dirt roads. The Felix Camp was situated on the bank of the Orange River and we managed to get lovely cottages overlooking the river. On the other side is South Africa. We met a fellow from England who was cycling from Cape Town north through Africa. I took a picture of him and his bike. I tried to lift his bike and found out it was really heavy with all his stuff on it. I took pictures and just rested the remainder of the day.
We crossed the border at 13km. and this part went fast. It was a constant ascent mostly 1 to 4% with some sections 5 to 8%. The coke stop was supposed to be at 35km with a bar or store but it looks like it was closed for a few years. We really needed this stop and there was nothing on the road until lunch at 77km. I did not see any TDA trucks on the road and I ran out of water before the lunch stop.
It was late when we came into the camp and had started getting dark. Dinner had been put aside for us and after dinner we went to rooms booked by Johan. We got a break from off road conditions and the whole ride today was on paved road.
We cycled a total of 132km and it took me 7hrs and 48min with my avg. speed of 17km/hr. and max of speed 54.4km/hr. The total climbing was 1500m and there were some longer sections with 5 to 8% incline.
No coke stop today, all on dirt road with a lot of climbing and a lot of corrugation with deep pockets of sand. There were sections were I did not know where to ride so I had to cycle on all sides of the road.
After 15km, Noah was coming with his truck and I went on truck. I started to cycle again after reaching the lunch stop. Today was the first time since Sudan that I fell down while cycling on the sand. I hurt my knee and got a few bruises. It looks like my knee was swollen by the end of the day.
Of the 153 km I travelled today only 82km was on the bike. This took 4hrs and 38min. My avg. speed was 17km/hr. and max speed was 36km/hr.
I cycled after lunch but Johan took a truck and arrived at the camp before us. It was a day we were unable to book any rooms so we were mentally prepared to put the tent up for a last time but instead he managed to get couple of rooms. They were lousy rooms and my room had bunk beds and few mattresses on the floor. For three rooms there was a bathroom with a shower, a kitchen but it was just in front of the camp.
I laid down on the bed and at night the wooden board under my mattress broke. I moved the mattress to the floor and slept the rest of the night there. This meant that my last night in the tent was on April 20, 2015 at Witvlei camp on day 102. It looks like we will not sleep in our tents any more on this tour.
I woke up and my knee had gotten worse. It was swollen and hurting. I asked Doctor Mark our fellow rider to look at my knee. He examined my knee and said that it looked like my bones were OK so it was the muscles but it may take time to fully heal.
I decided not to run today as I wanted to be able to ride the bike to Cape Town. I went on our main truck, the one we call the dinner truck and we were at our next camp at 10:30AM. We had booked rooms in the Swiss Villa chalets in town and our camp was just a few miles outside at a campground. Johan and I took our bikes with our bags on our backs and cycled to the chalets booked by Johan. We were glad to be there. The rooms were nice and we got dinner plus breakfast in the morning. We were supposed to cycle for 140km today but I just rode the truck instead.
I woke up at 6AM. and took Tylenol and Motrin for the pain in my knee. Doctor Mark gave me a knee support to wear and I decided to cycle. We cycled back to the camp and then started our stage.
We had a couple of climbs to complete before a paved section started at 95km. Again there was steep climbing between 107 and 113km with grades of 8 to 11%. It was hard climbing over the mountains. We were cycling on dirt road through the Botterkloof Pass and the views were spectacular.
At 101 km there was a nice coke stop and I got a milkshake and chocolate cake. At 105km the Pakhuis pass started and it began 8km. of steep climbing. I had to walk a couple of times but at the end there was a nice descent and I managed to complete today’s ride.
At the camp we had booked chalets so again we managed to escape a cold night in the tent. In the evening Franci, Johan and I cycled to town to the restaurant and had a good dinner.
Today had 137km. ride and it took me 8hrs and 18min. My avg. speed was 17km/hr. and max 54.7km/hr. There was a lot of climbing with total ascent of 1600m with sections 8 to 11% climb.
I woke up today still with pain in my knee. I took more Tylenol and Motrin and started cycling. It was one of the hardest days on tour for the riders. The views, on the other hand were picturesque as we crossed the mountains.
I stopped a few times to take pictures and it was getting late so after 16km I decided to take a ride with Noah our dinner truck driver. I asked him to drop me at the lunch stop and would complete the ride from there.
So the total I cycled today 80km out of 134km with my avg speed of 18.5km/hr and my max speed of 40km/hr. I spent 4hrs and 45 min on the bike. I did 830m out of total 2000m of ascent.
I arrived at the camp which was on a farm 10km. from the town. We had rooms booked at the B&B in town and they also arranged pickup for us at the camp. It was a nice surprise to get dinner at this palace and an early breakfast just for us so we could get back to the camp and start cycling the next day. This will be the last day before Cape Town.
We got a ride from our B&B to the camp and outside it was really cold. My bike computer showed 5 deg. C and 7 deg. after 8AM. It was again a very picturesque ride as we were crossing mountains on our way to Malmesbury. There was some climbing but only 800m. with a few sections around 7% grade. I managed to complete today’s ride and my knee started feeling better but I had takenTylenol and Motrin before the ride just in case.
We arrived at the camp and the staff had a nice ceremony for all riders. They were giving us special awards. After the ceremony Franci, Johan and I took baths in our cabins. Later we rode our bikes to town. We went to a restaurant and had a nice dinner.
Today we cycled 125km and it took me 5hrs and 55min to complete. My avg speed was 21km/hr. and max speed was 51.8km/hr. The total ascent was 730m.
After 4 month we arrived in Cape Town and everybody was happy to finish the tour. I did it and cycled almost 11,000km! I will be glad to see Ewa and arrive in one piece in Cape Town as I promised her back in Cairo. Today we cycled only 88km and at 59km we had a lunch on the Atlantic Ocean as we have reached the other side of Africa.
After lunch we had a Police escort to the Finish line in Cape Town on the beautiful waterfront. We had an award ceremony at the waterfront with flags for every country taking part on this tour through Africa. It was very nice ceremony with a lot of people showing up. After the ceremony we had one last dinner at the restaurant. We were drinking, eating, and saying goodbye to our fellow riders and the staff. It was amazing experience and I will make a summary of the whole trip later on.
I cycled today for 4 hrs and 16 min. My avg. speed till lunch was 23km/hr. and max speed was 46.8 km/hr.
I will now spend few days in Cape Town with Ewa and try to see the major attractions.