Feeling The Heat

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Dead Camel Camp

It is hot.  We are sitting ducks under a relentless sun in the Sahara, the biggest sand pit in the world.  

The Sahara spans the continent from east to west under several aliases covering 9 million square kilometres, 31% of Africa.  Cycling in the Red Sea and other areas outside of the Nile delta in Egypt we were in the Eastern desert. The  Nubian desert covers the area we find ourselves in now near Khartoum.  

The iconic image of any desert are ergs (sand seas  or large areas covered with sand dunes), but this forms only a minor part of the Sahara. Rocky  hamada (stone plateaus) accounts for most of the area.  The central Sahara is hyperarid, with sparse vegetation. We are beginning to see shrubbery, which  indicates that we are coming into the Sahel, a transition zone between the  Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savana to the south. 

Some readers were surprised to see riders in pants and sleeves in earlier posts.  That’s over for now.  3 scorching days riding in the direction of Khartoum have topped 40 degrees.  145 km in a blast furnace is one thing, but when the destination is “Dead Camel Camp” ( the answer is yes), clean up involves an industrial sized wet nap, peeing in the sand barely leaves a wet spot and the heat from the ground still rises in the tent after sundown, well . . . life Tour d’Afrique style is hard upon us.

Stage 16: Dead Camel to Desert Camp, was 143 km dead into a 25 km/hr wind that offered no relief from the heat. Commercial traffic travelling at high speed forced us off the road at points, sandblasting us in their wake.  This route was to be improved upon, but  political unrest in Sudan dictated otherwise. Less than half the riders completed the day, with many calling it quits at the lunch stop at 80 km. After that point every km gained was a struggle, and Lenore became one of several casualties, actually shivering roadside in the impossible heat!

As her day ended after 90 km a  4X4 with 2 gentlemen and their driver pulled over to offer assistance. We consulted briefly and determined that they would be  able to deliver her to camp – a pullout along the highway to Khartoum where they were headed.  We loaded her bike into the vehicle and off she went, relieving TDA of one rescue.  The rest of us peddled on.  

“So you trusted complete strangers in Sudan of all places?” (We heard you).  Yes. The people of Sudan have been among the friendliest we have ever met.  As it turned out the Sudanese Minister of Agriculture and a businessman/ agricultural engineer from Turkey looking to establish maize and other types of plantations were perfect gentlemen though they were rather shocked to see the look of our accommodation for the night!  We did not know of their credentials beforehand, but we went with our instincts.  It’s how we got here in the first place, and it’s how we’ll make it to Capetown.  

Stage 17: Desert Camp to Abu Dolooa, was 148 km with similar conditions to the previous stage, maybe hotter, but with one extra coke stop – more important than you can imagine!  This time Gerry succumbed to the extreme conditions and rode the van in from lunch while Lenore arrived at camp after ten and a half hours on the road.

Each of our successful days were the toughest we have ever done on a bicycle. We lost our EFI (“every effing inch” – more on this later) status, but that was never a priority for us. This journey is a marathon. Heat stroke is serious business.  We intend to play it safe and choose our battles.  

Thank for reading.

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Coke stop!

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Shrubbery

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Another day is done

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  34 comments for “Feeling The Heat

  1. Doreen A. Croll
    February 7, 2019 at 8:44 am

    This is all so fascinating. I hope it will result in a book.

    Like

  2. Stephen Lee
    February 7, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Forget every effing inch; make sure you stop to smell the sagebrush and effing safe and healthy. Compassionate self observance is the rule of personal law. Well done!

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Sage advice Steve. Thanks!

      Like

  3. February 7, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Okay, no longer envious. Wow! Stay safe and hydrated!

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      We’ll get you back on side. Thanks Robin.

      Like

  4. Jim
    February 7, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Gerry and Lenore. Please keep sending the updates…these stories are outrageous and i am completely hooked on the updates.

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      Nice to hear. Thanks Jim.

      Like

  5. Liz and Bob
    February 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Safety first kids, and go with your gut. Woe to the person who upon your return actually says. “yah, but you didn’t cycle every effing inch”. God bless you all.

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      Damn straight! Thanks.

      Like

  6. February 7, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    And to think: you’ve only just begun. Glad to see you’re willing to give an inch.

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      True. A bit intimidating actually. Lots to absorb.

      Like

  7. Jill Patterson
    February 7, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    More like “effing hot”, I would have melted!! I look forward to your email popping up with new updates, how long will you be on the “road”. Loving every minute from Montreal.

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Not big on the heat. We wind up on May 12 Jill. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  8. 94stafford
    February 7, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Power on but G but listen to your body. Please stay safe.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  9. February 7, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Goodness me, sounds like an existential test. Only sand here is thrown on the ice to reduce the risk of a broken neck. Not at all hot. I heard this morning our friend Myrna spent 14 hours on the road- driving from TO! But this will all be a piece of cake for you on your return. Carry on!

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      Extremes. Looking forward to some middle ground.

      Like

  10. Scott
    February 7, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I got pretty hot during our 45 minute spinning class today, so I know just what you’re going through. Seriously, bless you for taking the time to tell us about your adventure.

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:22 pm

      Wait a minute . . . Spinning? Our pleasure Scott.

      Like

  11. Amanda Clayton
    February 7, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Yikes! You guys stay well and hydrated ! What a journey!

    Like

    • February 7, 2019 at 5:23 pm

      Installing a 4th water bottle tomorrow.

      Like

  12. Clinton Day
    February 7, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much for your reports. We feel like we are having an education!!!!! Learning about Africa…….. when we rode, not a bicycle, to California on a three week holiday, the states were going through a heat wave, vey very high temperatures. So we understand a bit what you are going through……… We needed to replace both tires as they had burned out!!!! Again be ever so safe!!!!!!!!!! C snd C

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The Dream
    February 7, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Fascinating stuff Gerald, and if it’s any consolation, I was in Regina last week where is was -57. Yes, -57. Keep the great stories coming, Godspeed!

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 2:23 am

      Whoa! You could have use put a period after Regina – 110 degree difference from here.

      Like

  14. cindy681
    February 7, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Gerry, I’m hanging on every word you write…it’s unbelievable. Thanks for sharing, in such vidid detail, yours and Lenore’s journey. Keep kicking ass and taking names!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mark J bentler
    February 8, 2019 at 1:53 am

    You guys are both an inspiration! Thanks for sharing… the lows are always followed by highs (and the highs by lows)…. life truly happens only at the extremes
    M

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Anonymous
    February 8, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Wow – we are loving your experiences and incredible photos. We can only begin to imagine this incredible journey although you do write so vividly! Each time there is a new post, it is confirmation you are travelling safely! Keep them coming. xx

    Like

  17. kimp74
    February 9, 2019 at 9:04 am

    10 1/2 hours! Dear lord! How’s her bits? Ha ha! Lenore what a champ. I hope the tent was up and dinner saved for you. I feel your pain with the heat in the tent. We had that for 3 1/2 weeks. It killed me. Youll be pleased to know after Sudan it gets better. So grateful you have WiFi. These posts are epic. Stay safe xx

    Like

    • February 9, 2019 at 6:03 pm

      Laughing reading this in a hot tent once again. Thanks Kim.

      Like

  18. Myrna
    February 9, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I am really enjoying your posts! Thank you for sharing this different place & culture with us. I must say it is heart warming to hear how friendly the Sudanese people are.

    May the Wind be at your backs, be safe, xo

    Like

    • February 9, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      Appreciate that Myrna. Had a tailwind today and it made 138 km feel like the tour de l’Ile Perrot.

      Like

  19. Liz
    February 9, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    I feel a sense of excitement and a little ambivalence when I read your stories. There is mystery and unknown territory culturally and physically. Iam absolutely enjoying every pedal. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • February 11, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you for reading Liz.

      Like

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