From the deserts of Sudan….

We arrived into Wadi Halfa following a 24 hour boat journey from Aswan in Egypt on 22nd January. Having pulled into port around 1230pm we were finally able to cycle from customs at 445pm. With all bags checked and stickered, passports and immigration forms completed we were in Sudan. Wow. I would never have thought I would be here – on my blke. Amazing. We stayed in Wadi Halfa that night – a sandy football stadium on the edge of town providing our base, a small restaurant in town offering falafel and phool (beans) for dinner and the usual shoval was once again the regular ensuite facility.

Since then we have followed the same road for around 900 km to reach the capital – Kartoum. The landscape goes on for miles and miles, the road leads straight ahead, with sand and dunes going off on both sides of the road. There is so little else around to take from the view, just odd buildings and Sudanese cheerleaders to push us on. Breaks come at occasional coke stops – small metal shacks with freezers full of local refreshments. Perhaps the biggest beach I haver ever been to!

It’s hot and the reflection of the asfalt makes temperatures feel higher still. In the afternoons we reach around 36 degrees in this very dry climate. It’s not so sweaty until you stop but with factor 50 suncream on the skin, factor 70 on the lips and lots of water on the bike these are trying conditions. With little shade at camp and hot tents you have to wait till the middle of the night to finally cool down before starting the ride again at around 745am to get in as many miles as you can before the temperature rises. I pushed myself and covered 74km in two and a quarter hours. Chuffed.

Waking up in dead camel camp to another great sunrise as we headed out I felt great again on the bike and set off at quite a pace. I was able to get to the faster riders group and 12 of us rode, taking turns on the front with any wind. We arrived at the 75km mark at 1015am for lunch. A couple of quick sandwiches and we were all off again though this time my pace was a little slower – the group became my carrot for the rest of the afternoon until a coke stop at around 110km. I left the coke stop quickly and again found great speed on the wheels. I came in third of the girls that day – amazing when surrounded by really strong riders and with me on a touring bike. Five hours, 3 minutes to do 143km.Unfortunately it was not the day to arrive early – wind tossing sand everywhere we were not able to pitch a tent until many hours later and even then it was held down by large rocks on all pegs. Going to the toilet was interesting!

We woke the next morning with the wind still strong waiting until it was light to let down the tent – Irin sitting on it while we unpegged. Visibilty was poor and as vehicles passed the sand kicked up on legs and faces with a viscious sting. People are still getting through the wet wipes finding sand in their ears. However, while heading south the wind was behind us and I was able to reach 50.4km/hr. Great. Fortunately while still in an open space the wind had also dropped making for a slightly less frantic camp.

Today brought an individual time trial as we made our final journey into Kartoum before the police led convey into the city. My race will be for a personal best – I made 25km in 43 minutes. I was a bit disapointed but have to remember I have a heavy touring bike. I’m tired now but we have a great apartment now in Kartoum and it will be a good break before the next part of the challenge -off road!

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