Friday, February 4, 2011

TdA Stage 16. Carnage begins.

145km. Khartoum to Desert Camp.

Leaving Khartoum felt like we were entering another country again. So long nice, wide roads. So long no traffic. So long mostly favourable winds. Hello intense heat, vicious crosswinds and interpersonal tension.

There was little efficiency to gain from group riding today, owing to the crosswinds and absence of a shoulder...and the inevitable irritability and that arises in such conditions. But, it would have been a heinous day going solo, so a lot of pairs and threesomes formed. Carrie and I rode most of the day together, picking up 'tourists' for brief visits (mike-without-a-bike, then yound-adam, then dennis-the-teddy-bear).

There were a lot of casualties for the day. A number of those riders who had hoped to cycle every inch of the journey didn't finish the day. The sweep truck was over capacity with folks who had succumbed to the heat and wind and packed it in. Serious carnage. I'm not going to lie to you, it was a hard day. The kind that takes patience and strength to carry through. Still beats sitting inside at a desk. And day one of La Ruta.

At camp, one of the riders with a fancy bike computer said that it was 48 degrees in the sun.
I spent the afternoon resting under the truck and watching shattered rider after shattered rider come in. Dehydration, fatigue, sun stroke. I heard a few people say it was the toughest day that they've had on a bicycle. This is more like what I expected from this trip.

I really enjoyed the first 2000 wonderful kilometers of the journey, the great times that we have had together and the friendships that have developed. As the road and conditions get much tougher now, I hope that we will overcome some of the petty interpersonal tensions and let the adversity bring us closer together. It is now that we need each other the most, if we want to avoid more carnage.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


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