OK, so now I’m making this very public and official to ease the pressure on myself: I will no longer give a dime about my racing times!
So far, I’ve ranked third overall in our race (select Overall Standing and All Stages), and that didn’t help to put the competitive devil inside me to sleep.
However, a few things have reminded me today and over the past days that racing for time would be a really stupid thing to do (for me that is; am not judging our male racers):
- The traffic down here is absolutely nuts! Up north, most drivers (with the exception of crazy bus drivers between the Egyptian border and Khartoum) respected us cyclists, gave us heaps of warnings of their arrival, and made efforts to keep a safe gap. Down here, drivers who respect us are the exception. Most don’t make the slightest effort to even just move half a meter towards the middle of the road, even if there’s no traffic whatsoever on the other lane. “I had to break for you!” one angry truck driver on an otherwise empty two-lane road shouted at me while overtaking and pointed towards the gravel shoulder where—in his mind—I belonged. In two instances, trucks with wide loads (as wide as two lanes in one case!) almost knocked me off my bike. A few riders fell off their bikes today due to traffic—falling off the bike towards the outside of the road always being preferable to getting run over of course. Fortunately, everyone was going slow enough, so there haven’t been any serious injuries other than scratches and bruises. However, I have no more intentions of falling off my bike. This is to assure my family and friends back home—safety always comes first, and I haven’t forgotten that yet. So I will be taking it very easy from now onwards, take the gravel shoulder whenever available, and get off my bike to let crazy drivers pass.
- Cycling through the desert, there were not many incentives to stop along the way. Even the coke stops didn’t look too exciting to me. Down here, however, there are heaps of opportunities to stop, shop, drink & eat, and take photos along the way. Rupert and Jason, who had also cycled Tour d’Afrique last year, joined us again for a few weeks. “Is there anything you would have done differently last year?” I asked them.—”Take more time along the way,” they both agreed. Well, I shall learn from their experience.
- Finally, I’d totally burnt myself out during our last week in Sudan (although I didn’t even push it too hard). If we would have had to continue cycling through Ethiopia, I think I would have lost my EFI. I will continue to attempt cycling Every FABULOUS Inch of this tour—i.e. not only cycling all the way, but also have fun along the way. Racing for time would be highly counter-productive.
Stage 25: Nairobi – Lake Naivasha (Kenya), 110km
Road & traffic condition:
Busy getting out of Nairobi, especially the local mini-buses that pick up passengers along the way posed some navigational challenges.
Then we had a 10km dirt road stretch that reminded us of our last week in Sudan, but at least the traffic was getting more manageable.
Thereafter, traffic turned into an absolute nightmare. In the minds of local drivers, cyclists have no right whatsoever to be on the road. I had expected a relaxing 9km descent down into the Great Rift Valley (our first longer descent), but actually found this (mentally speaking) the hardest stretch so far—dodging crazy truck drivers that don’t want us on their roads makes me want to go back to Sudan!
Comfortable—partly cloudy and not too hot (relatively speaking; our new sectional riders who haven’t experienced Sudan would disagree).
BBQ! The beef was so chewy that cutting through it might as well have been the biggest challenge of our day, but I won’t complain—good protein it was.
We have 16 new sectional riders joining us for the next few weeks or–in some cases—all the way down to Cape Town. Welcome everyone!
Nice scenery while descending 9km down into the Great Rift Valley.
Some wildlife viewing along the way—zebras, baboons, giraffe.
Chilling at the pub after arriving at camp. Our tour is taking a totally different dynamic. This is no longer off-the-beaten track cycling through the wild like we had it in Sudan.
I was a bit unsocial over the past rest days in Nairobi as I really needed a break. Our group had formed a strong bond over the past month and having 16 new people join was—admittedly—also a bit overwhelming for some of us. Today, however, I enjoyed meeting all our new riders. 🙂