Spares are bought, bike is packed, legs are trained... Ready to go! I will be flying to Egypt tomorrow, and onwards to Khartoum on Wednesday.
Some key facts about the trip:
Name: Tour d'Afrique, 12th edition
Start: January 10, Khartoum, Sudan
Finish: May 10, Cape Town, South Africa
Estimated distance: 11.693 km
Countries: Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa
Participants: between 50 and 60
Accommodation: my little tent (Lowland Conquest)
Tour support: trucks, cook, medic, mechanic, so all I have to do is cycle. Piece of cake.
Gear: my own Trek 8000 WSD (mountainbike), Shimano XT/SLX parts, gears 44/32/24 front, 11/36 (!) rear, Avid BB7 disc brakes, Fox Alps fork with lockout, and lots-lots-lots of spare tyres
Race: each day has a set stage which is timed from start to finish, the rider with the least accumulated time wins. OK, it's slightly more complicated with mandatory days, grace days and time trials, but you get the idea. There is a separate women's classification. Race results will be uploaded every few days here.
Rest days: every few days, to enjoy Africa and to allow the legs to recover
The tour will cover a new stretch in northern Ethiopia. Read what the organisers have to say about that:
"The new route through the northern Ethiopian tablelands will be particularly challenging. This 10 stage 1050 km long stretch features almost 19.000 meters of climbing and descent on by and large rough unpaved roads. One of the new stages will require over 2.600 meters of climbing, a new record for the TDA, and on another we’ll be as high as 3.250 meters, another TDA record. As such it will be a mountain biker’s paradise and a serious physical and mental test for any cyclist."
What an opportunity, you can still pledge donations for the Jobortunity Training Institute!
For now I would already like to thank Stefan, Dim, Rie, Marieke & Dries, Hannah, Winnie, Ellen & Timon, Ilse, TWC de Maaspoort, Finken Tandartsen Horn, Sandra & Jan Willem & Fauve & Suze, Guido & Claudia, Lisette, Jan, Guus, Philip, Niklas, Peter, Mirka, Lukas, Karima, Alexander, Helga, Sandra, Mike, Laura, Natalie & Diewert, Sina & Thomas, Sabrina and Stefanie for their pledged contributions!
And for all of you who think that cycling from Sudan to South Africa is an big, unnecessary and crazy thing to do, it can be much bigger, less necessary and crazier. One could also walk from India to England, cycle or ride a tractor to the South Pole, push an empty wheelchair across Australia or golf his way through Mongolia. Just saying.