Thursday, May 26, 2011

TDA 2011 - Final thoughts

I made it! With no previous cycling experience, I participated and completed the Tour d’Afrique – cycling from Cairo to Cape Town covering just less than 12,000km over 4 months. To give a very short summery of the trip, over 120 days, cyclist basically have to complete 95 Argus rides with 25 rest days in-between covering 10 African countries over all various terrains.

I have never really traveled too much in Africa, so this was the idea trip to realize this goal of mine. What better way to experience the sights
and sounds of Africa on a bicycle. And what an experience it was! Some things that stood out for me in the countries was the pyramids and old history in Egypt, with the Nile which really is the life support of that country, to the surprisingly very pleasant Sudan, with the most hospitable people that you will ever meet and also the most extreme hot conditions. Then onto Ethiopia with beautiful scenic rides (the most hills by far of all of the countries) and (unfortunately) the rock throwing kids adding a lot of adventure and frustration for the riders. Then onto Kenya and Tanzania with some excellent but very challenging off road sections (still not sure how that one stretch in Northern Kenya can be classified as a road, it is literally just lava rocks in the middle of nowhere). Both countries were very similar in scenery and also visiting the Ngorongoro Crater was a highlight of the trip. Then heading into more familiar territory, cycling in Southern Africa, onto Malawi along the lake and then to the “real Africa” as the locals call it, Zambia. Seeing Vic Falls from a helicopter ride was another highlight. Crossing over Kasane we headed onto the elephant highway, where in the place of cows etc, elephants walk along this stretch of road. A plane ride across the Okavango Delta really gave one an impression of how vast and majestic this piece of land is. And then onto a lot of the rider’s favorite section, Namibia, which to me already felt a bit like home. Cycling through this country that changes so much in scenery (all stunning and I probably got my best pictures here), on very good off roads and also passing by Sossusvlei. The South African section was the shortest of all of the countries, where we cycled along the west coast towards Cape Town.

My own experiences
It is such an amazing journey, challenging you physically and emotionally, and certainly the toughest task that I have undertaken too date. With no previous cycling experience at all (furthest I cycled before this was back in my youth days to and from school) and on this trip having to cycle an average 125km a day on any terrain imaginable and in any weather condition you can think of (besides snow), the trip really does take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions all cramped up in 4 months. From the highs of seeing all this stunning natural scenery, seeing my continent first hand and meeting these incredible people to the lows of having to cycle every day even when your body aches and you are very sick, to missing family and friends and just being mentally and physically tired and drained. But to cross that finish line in Cape Town, with all those riders that you shared this journey with, your family and friends that have supported you through this journey, waiting there for you, is a truly amazing experience and I still get goose bumps if I think about it. For me, the trip also had special meaning, as I was returning to SA to live and work here after a 5 years overseas stint, so in my mind, when I was starting this trip, I was cycling back home.

Anyone can do it
Theme for this trip for me was “dream it, plan it and live it”. I believe there are a lot of people out there that want to do something adventurous. It might not be on this scale, it may be less (or even more). But take that step, do not just dream it. Plan it as well and live life to the fullest. Enjoy the moment. And you can do a lot more than you think you actually can.

In summery, would I do the trip ever again? No. But was this trip the adventure of a lifetime, then a definite “Yes”!!!!!! I leave you with this final thought, anything is possible, just trust God and believe in yourself.


Victory pose - I did one at the pyramids and now one at Table Mountain (which you cannot see becasue of the fog)

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