I had expected a difficult day—bad roads, ruthless traffic, lots of harassments as a female cyclist, and so forth. Well, I didn’t find any of that.
TDA advised all women to cover our arms and legs while cycling in Muslim countries, and so we all did. They also advised female cyclists to always cycle with a man.
Well, I did that to start with by hanging on to our male racing champions for an hour, but then couldn’t keep up the pace and ended up cycling on my own for most of the day (though you’re never on your own, just wait a bit at the side of the road and others will come along soon).
Not only did I find it much more enjoyable to go my own pace, listen to my Arabic language audio files to kill time, and stop for a drink whenever I felt like. I also found no issues whatsoever in terms of safety.
Of course, passing cars would almost always blare and wave, but more in a welcoming and enjoyable rather than harassing way. Only once when I stopped a car pulled up slowly behind me, and I thought, “Now you’re in trouble, had you better followed their advise.”
When I turned around, three friendly police officers were smiling at me—our patrol that kept following our group all day to make sure nothing happens to us. I gave them my thumbs up, they reciprocated with their thumbs up, and off they went again while waving at me. Further down the road at a fork, they passed me again slowly to make sure I went the right way. Not a bad welcome, I’d say!
Stage 1: Cairo–Fanar De Luna/Red See (Egypt), 135.7km
Road & traffic condition:
I had expected bad tarmac and crazy traffic. Was pleasantly surprised about both. Never felt threatened by the trucks.
Perfect for riding, sunshine throughout
Errol’s wonderful spaghetti bolognese and massive salad—what more could one ask for?
Everyone seemed quite happy tonight. How could we complain—decent hotel with view of the Red Sea—we got lucky this year!
Managed to earn the first puncture of all riders by riding over the only nail I would see on the entire stretch. I thought, “OK, I can do this on my own,” but there was no need. Ed stopped and, even though I suggested I wouldn’t need help, he stayed and helped me fix my tire from beginning till end. What an amazing display of camaraderie!
And sure enough, as it turned out, I had already forgotten everything that I practiced at the cycling shop just a few weeks ago, and would have been a disaster without Ed, who patiently explained every single step to me.
Two friendly Egyptian riders also stopped to help, and so I had 3 guys helping me fix my tire! However, back at the hotel I’ve just realized that I’ve already lost (or had stolen?) my mini-pump during that incident, on day 1!!! No wonder that Egyptian guy kept giving me compliments about my cycling all the way to the lunch truck—distraction technique 😉