Saturday, March 12, 2011

TdA Stage 46. Ultimatums.

51km. River Camp to (not quite) Nairobi.
What began as a 136km stage with a partial convoy to our camp in Nairobi, turned into a 51km ride to a suburb of the city, followed by a truck ride to the camp. We first got wind of this plan last night and it came as a big disappointment for many of us.
From our experience in Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, I appreciate that it is difficult to move a group of our size through large cities. And, having been to Nairobi before, I appreciate that the city is has its challenges. Further, with the armed robbery earlier this week, I can understand the aversion to having another 'incident' this week.
Still, most of us didn't come here to see Africa through the window of a truck. As the trip organiser described at the journey, 'this is not a five star tour, we are here to support you as you cycle across Africa'.
If we wanted to ride through Nairobi, it was not going to happen with any support from the TdA.
Carrie and I were intent on riding the full stretch and, on very short notice, pulled together independent support to make it happen and to make it as seemless as possible. We informed the trip organiser of our plans (last night) as a courtesy and rode this morning stretch with the group.
Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on our plans at the end of the first 51km. We were told that we could not carry on with the group after Nairobi if we continued to cycle independently today.
I'm not a fan of ultimatums. They are for people who lack the willingness or creativity to work together to find solutions. We are a group of people who have paid for support to help us fulfil a dream. Holding power over a dream is a big job, and dropping an ultimatum like this, at a time like this, feels abusive.
So far, the support has been outstanding (except in the case of race management, but that is another story). The staff have been friendly, capable and very good at dealing with the many unpredictable challenges that have arisen along this first half of the journey. Today's intervention and ultimatum were an unfortunate (and very frustrating) hiccup.
My stubborn side spent a fair time weighing how long it might take me to find some other support to finish the journey to Capetown. But, my rational side moved that we could finish the piece on our rest day tomorrow, even if my body is in dire need of a rest.


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