19 Feb The Gorge
The next 8 days after our rest day was hell. Literally. I think that was the section where hell was born. Remember those milkshakes in Khartoum? There was not one day in those 8 days to Gondor after Khartopum that I didn’t want to bathe myself in freezing milkshakes. 8 days of riding in 40 degrees plus…
Being an avid mountain biker I was really looking forward to the off road sections from Khartoum to Gondor, Ethiopia. I am doing the whole trip on an amazing dual suspension Rocky Mountain with off ride tyres, the works. It does make it a lot tougher to go fast and steady on the tar but “nou ja”. Keeping up and going strong.
The off road sections was no MTB heaven…it was ugly, it was flat, it was “sinkplaat” for 350km. And the heat was overwhelming. The first day I won the stage in 43 degrees. The next off road day was 45 degrees. I came in 3rd. With no shade around I went to sit in the shade of an old Bedford truck. Bedford trucks are all over Sudan.
It took me 30 minutes of sitting in the 40 degree shade before I decided that I need to lie down. I have already had 7 litres of water but feel depleted. I had no energy at all. Hell was taking its toll. The next morning I woke up, and as the night before, I still couldn’t eat. I had to make a decision whether I should get on the truck for the day and recover. Then I would be losing my EFI status… Do I look after my health and quit, or do I push through until I feel better? I pushed through, but I did not feel any better. I started hydrating as much as possible. It was a long and painful day and when I realised I came in at 4th place I knew that everyone was feeling the same.
I survived the day and started eating in the evening. I slept well and the next morning I felt like a new person. Two days into Ethiopia the camp looked like a war zone. Literally. People strewn all over our designated camping area. Everyone was ill and suffering from heat exhaustion. I was on the recovery and my head stronger than ever. Some days we just have to push through! WE HAVE TO!!
I took it very easy to Ghondor and the day we crossed the border into Ethiopia my whole being got revived and I felt refreshed! Everything changed in a second of a border crossing. The language, the scenery, the attitude…and the coffee…Welcome to Ethiopia. Where they scan your crash helmet to see if you have Ebola. Crossing into Sudan from Egypt they could not find the key to the gate. African borders…
I am sitting in Addis Ababa now. I’m 4 000km from Cairo and done with the second section and still maintaining my EFI status and still in overall 3rd position. The rain three days ago left my tent damp and slightly wet, but my soul refreshed. Our vertical ascent in Ethiopia thus far exceeds 22 000m and the highest point of travel was 3 200m above sea level. In Addis we are currently at 2 370m. Ethiopia is amazing! The landscapes are great, the coffee is as good as I expected, but the people have an attitude implying everyone owes them something. The kids are horrific and rude. As in Sudan they have no shame using child labour and only about 5% of the kids that I saw go to school. They are a rock throwing, uneducated nation surrounded by majestic, beautiful mountains. I blame the UN for the handout mentality. So far the best bike riding of my journey… But Ethiopia, please educate you children… Africa, please educate your children…
In 8 days we will cross into Kenya and I will be sad leaving Ethiopia. I hope the next 8 days will be the best 8 days of the journey. Because that is how I would like to remember Ethiopia.
This is the end of The Gorge section. Leaders never quit and leaders never compare themselves to other people.
What The Gorge section (Leaders never compare themselves to other people) taught me:
- Never quit. NEVER EVER.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Always be aware of the beauty that surrounds you.
- To succeed establish your own pace and rhythm.