It’s Smooth Sailing: Cycling in the Sudan

Wow, what a difference a few days can make.
We went from the lowest of lows to fantastic highs in a short time. After our rest day in Dongola, we had tarmac all the way to Khartoum and 4 days that consisted of 140km, 140km, 160km and 100km. We were racing down the highway with great tailwinds. We were reaching speeds of 57km/hr, and that is not going downhill. We were arriving at camp within 5 hours each day and that included lunch, coke, and coffee breaks.


Dave and I hooked up with Joya and George and we had a great foursome working together to battle the side winds. The Barbershop Quartet was in full force. We named ourselves that because in all of our many hours together riding, we found out that George had cut Joya's hair in Aswan and Dave had cut my hair in Luxor. Go figure!

We have to tell you to not believe anything you hear about Africa again. For instance…It is cold here! Very cold. We keep waiting for the hot weather, but every morning we wake up and can see our breath. It is really hard to get out of your sleeping bag in the dark to pack up camp and know that you have a good 3 hours of freezing on the bike. It is that weird mix of being hot from working out, but having all of your appendages freeze because it is close to 0 degrees outside.

It is Cold in Sudan

It is cold in Sudan

You try getting out to pee at 5:45 am and exposing your bare bottom to a sandblasting wind.
Oh yea, did I tell you that we keep camping in desert camps during sand storms? There is sand in everything. Sand blew through the tent all night and my eyes were full of grit when I woke up in the morning. It took a lot of finesse to apply the chamois cream and keep the sand out of our shorts. We don't want to be exfoliating our butts as we ride now. They are sore enough, thank you very much.
We are really starting to have a lot of fun. It is a crazy thing when a 140km day isn't too bad. We have our meeting at night and say, “Oh, that's ok, we should be in camp by about 1 or so.”
Dave wants to write this, so I have to let him because I am praising him all of the time…
Deb really hammered down at the time trial, finishing 4th at 38:50 for a 20km distance that started out with a pretty strong headwind. She is really starting to get her legs. So, who knows what will happen in the next section? She has been battling her electrolytes throughout this section, but Janet gave her a bottle of Thermalites and she is feeling much better now. Janet's husband Chris is bringing some more, so Deb is going to have lots of energy for those mountains in Ethiopia.
Now back to business.
Not really a lot to say, these past 4 days were a lot of the same. Ride, camp, eat, sleep. But we are getting to know the group better and enjoying the conversations around the trucks.

We are in Khartoum for 2 rest days. We are going to be visiting our Plan Project and checking out where the Blue and White Nile Rivers meet. It seems like a great city.
Today as we entered in convoy, we felt like diplomats landing in the city. There were police escorts, sirens, and people lining the streets cheering us through 35 km of riding. It was amazing. I don't know if I will ever experience anything like it again in my life. It is really hard to put into words the welcome that we received.
The people of Sudan are great. Friendly, smiling, and peaceful. It is hard to believe that there is a war going on in Darfur. Today, as we rode to our campsite, I kept thinking that western TV should be here filming this side of the country. It would make great news to see happy Sudanese cheering and going on with their everyday lives. All we ever see are the rebels and war on television. But since we have been here, all we have witnessed from the Sudanese people is kindness and their curiosity toward these weirdly dressed people on bicycles riding through town.
We are sitting in a mall sipping coffee, working on the wireless internet with barely a glance from the locals. I am amazed with Africa and am looking forward to seeing more.
On that note, we found out today that we won't be going to Kenya but will be flying over, as our trucks drive through without us. We will have about 2 weeks on our own to kill, so Dave and I are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro and going to Zanzibar. It's a tough life, but somebody has to do it:)
Hopefully we will make it to the internet after our Plan visit, but if not, we will talk to you sometime in Ethiopia.

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