09 Feb Pharaoh’s Delight
Today, exactly one month ago, I started riding my mountain bike out of a very cold Cairo. A bit more than 4 weeks, 4 weeks and 2 days to be exact. If I did not look at the calendar I would not have known what day it was today. All I know is that I arrived 2 days ago in Gonder, Ethiopia, a broken man. The first shower I had in 8 days could not wash away any weary emotions; it could only wash away the dirt from my sticky skin. I have now covered more than 3 000km of the 12 000km journey and I am maintaining my EFI (Every Fucking Inch) status. I also happen to be in 3rd place overall.
With a very unstable political situation and a winter that I did not expect, our group of 32 riders saddled up and started the 4-month journey to Cape Town. My first thought as we left Cairo was that the postcards of Egypt lie. Whoever is in charge of distributing these postcards is the biggest fraud. It is not hot in Egypt. It is freezing. It also dawned upon me why the Sun is so prominent in ancient Egyptian mythology – for thousands of years the Egyptians have been glorifying the sun. Why? Because it is so cold. There you have it…they have always known how cold it gets. That is why they love the sun so much. Logic.
Our first week covered just over 800km with a rest day in Luxor. For six days we were camping out in the desert in the freezing cold. Although I did not sleep well and tried to find the most efficient routine, I started feeling alive. There is something in change and discomfort that makes me feel ALIVE. I soon realised that if I want to make a success of this expedition I will need to be really disciplined and focused without forgetting to enjoy it. And I need to find a way to do this. So I took the first six days to ‘relax’ into everything and just sort out my daily packing, hygiene and looking after my health. After 1 month on the road I am now sticking to exactly the same routine every day. I wake up, deflate my pillow, roll up my sleeping bag, get dressed in my cycling gear (helmet and all), pack my bag, break down my tent, pack my locker and get ready to leave right after breakfast. I do all this in exactly the same sequence, every day. I know how to keep my hands, water bottles, and hydration pack clean. I also now know how to keep healthy under these circumstances by listening to my body. With the average 125km that I ride everyday, things can fall apart very easily if I don’t stick to a routine. Routine is boring and I don’t want it to stop me from enjoying this awesome experience, but the small things need routine. I realised that these small things are the glue that keeps the bigger things together. And it’s in the BIG things that we have to find our FREEDOM. Make sure that the small things work to get the ultimate enjoyment out of the journey.
Luxor was rich in culture and heritage and was a great reward after a tough first 6 days of long distances and settling in. The desert camps were amazing with some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that I have ever seen. The nights were cold but the number of stars that I saw each night made up for it.
After 4 days of riding a total of 500km we had our next rest day in Abu Simbel in The Republic of Sudan. It warmed up a lot. Another 500km later we were in Dongola. Sudan is becoming a harsh place and with campsites called DEAD CAMEL CAMP it’s not getting any better. After a very short time of riding through Sudan I did not want to be in Sudan anymore. It was hot and harsh and because of international sanctions supplies are very limited. 530km later we arrived in Khartoum – the end of Pharaoh’s Delight and 2 276km into the journey. On our rest day I rewarded myself with a milkshake, not knowing what was lying ahead over the next 8 days…If I knew I would have had 4 milkshakes.
What the Pharaoh’s Delight (We are born to be leaders) taught me:
- Learn to listen to your body – Stay healthy
- Embrace change – Change keeps you ALIVE
- Make sure the little things are sorted in order to enjoy the journey – Prepare