New Subblog in action

Link: http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/index.php?blog=9

 

TDA is over. Nothing to see here. Move on.. (after you've read the wrap up of course)

 

Tour D'Afrique Wrap up

 

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The end!

I’ve been promising a tour wrap up entry for a while and finally got round to it.

 

The weeks after the tour were a bit of a shock to the system and took a while to get used to the lack of the tour’s daily routine. The following is observations which would hopefully help any prospective tour riders.

Overall I wouldn’t say it is life changing as a lot of people have said but I would say it is a lot of fun and a great way to see Africa.

 

Weather & Environment

 

The heat is never that bad. Even in Sudan it's a dry heat. 45 degrees and dry isn't THAT bad. Same as a northerly wind in Melbourne in summer. The heat built up imperceptibly over 3 days. It was comfortable and then 3 days later it was 45 and f'in hot. Less than a week after that we entered Ethiopia and the temperatures came back down to a very comfortable 25-30 degrees. We stayed over 1000m altitude the whole way apart from a few days between Sudan and the end of Namibia so it stayed in roughly the same temperature range most of the time.  I was expecting Africa to be hot but I was surprised by how comfortable it was.

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al">Tops optional obviously

 

Humidity was low for most of the trip with a few exceptions. Humidity Camp, the first night in Malawi was unusually low at 500m. This was the most uncomfortable camp that we had. We were all dripping with sweat from the humidity and didn’t get a decent night’s sleep.

 

By the time we got to southern Namibia and South Africa it was getting cold and we needed cold weather gear again for the first time since Egypt. In Egypt and South Africa it was roughly 10 overnight and 20 during the day. Wind vets and arm warmers were called for. Some people were more sensitive to cooler weather and wore rain jackets or leg warmers.

 

We were ridiculously lucky with rain. I personally never got rained on when riding. Some did but only one or two days. In previous years it rained a lot and made some sections really hard. The off-road section in the south of Tanzania was bone dry for us making it one of the most pleasurable sections of the whole tour; quiet roads that weren’t too rough and beautiful scenery. The 2011 tour had rain every day for that section and it sounds like it was a complete nightmare.

 

Roads

Roads broke into 4 categories; good tarmac, bad tarmac, good off-road and rough off-road.

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Good tarmac was by far the most common for maybe 60-70% of the tour. The good tarmac is actually better than many western roads as, thanks to the recent Chinese investment, it is so new. It is certainly better than the roads in the UK as I discovered when we toured there straight after the tour in Africa. I couldn’t believe the bad condition they were in. With every border crossing came a new construction method for roads and a new surface type. Ethiopia was smooth as from border to border. Malawi was high friction and slow. You’d get a feel for a country pretty quick.

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Bad tarmac was generally not a problem unless you were riding in a bunch with riders who didn’t communicate very well. It was generally good tarmac with some unrepaired damage. It seems that there is no money put aside for maintenance after the initial road is funded and built. The maintenance was much better in the south too. This covered maybe 10-15%.Normal road tyres were fine for both tarmac types.

 

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Good off-road was hardpacked dirt with occasional sketchy bits. At first in Namibia the dirt was so hardpacked it rolled smoother than a lot of tarmacs we’d been on. Generally this was not technical at all and fairly fast rolling. This covers most of Namibia, northern South Africa, Tanzania and parts of Kenya. This made up maybe 15 % of the trip.

 

 

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Corrugations in Sudan

 

 

 

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Kenya before the lava rock.

 

Bad off-road ranged from slow rough-in-patches dirt and sand to full nightmare lava rocks in Northern Kenya and stutterf*ck corrugations in Sudan. The truly bad stuff was 3 days in a row of corrugations in Sudan (the full day generally wasn’t terrible, only half of it) and 3 half days on lava rocks in N Kenya. The rest was rough but generally you could find a better line that was smoother and not so painful. True off-road mountain biking fun was in short supply at maybe two fun half days. This is not a mountain biking trip.

Speed bumps and rumble strips became common south of Nairobi and added interest to a boring tarmac day. Two or three of us would jump them in unison and see whether we could actually get over the longer rumble strips.

 

Bikestuff

 

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There were a multitude of different styles of bikes on the tour from mountain bikes to road bikes through cross and touring.

Sadiq, a local rider in Sudan rode the whole of Sudan on a Giant TCR 2 road bike with 23mm tyres, even the rough offroad in the south near the border. He had to go pretty slow but he finished every day.

Mountain bikes seemed to be more comfortable on the dirt but they weren't necessarily faster. However MTBs had a big penalty on the road. Cyclocross bikes were fast, light and stiff on the road but seemed to be a nightmare offroad. That stiffness translates to a tough bumpy ride. It seems there is no perfect bike for the full tour but it is a compromise for dirt or road. You need to decide on where you want to be on the fast - slow / pain - comfort line.

 

Recommended Bikes for TDA

MTB

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Any MTB will work. Quite a few people had 29ers. The 26 vs 29 debate is fairly mature at this point. 29ers roll better over rough stuff, however have ridden and raced both I consider the difference is minimal. Ride what you have already. If you are buying a new bike don't even think about wheelsize, it's just not enough of an issue. In some countries (mainly SE Asia) 29er spares are very hard to find. This is not an issue in Africa as you won't find ANY spares at all between Cairo and Nairobi and Nairobi and Windhoek. So wheel size is really not an issue for the TDA as you need to bring all your spares with you anyway.You will rarely have any issues with MTB gearing. You will spin out very occasionally in the highest  gear of 44*11 but not often enough to worry about it.

On frame material any metal is fine. Personally I’d go for steel but aluminium isn’t that bad on an MTB if you have suspension. I would avoid carbon. Carbon would be fine if you always rode the bike and never had to transport it. But the number of dings it would get on the truck / ferry  / plane etc. would be too much of a breakage risk to consider it. One sectional rider brought a carbon MTB for lightness but realistically he knew he wasn’t going to have to transport the bike apart from planes at either end so it was relatively low risk. In 2012, there were a number of hardtails and even a few full suspension bikes. They excelled on rough days but managed to keep up most of the time.

Race

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To win the race or be up there with the racers you need a light cyclo-cross bike with lots of tyre clearance. Either steel or titanium would be fine. Not Aluminium (never aluminium). Aluminium gives a harsh unforgiving ride and absolutely killed a number of people. Whenever we hit rough stuff one of the race-leaders who had a stiff aluminium cross bike fell back dramatically compared to others on titanium. I put that down to just the bike. The fat tyres make a big difference on a small number of days but enough that the winner in 2012 probably won because he had a cyclo-cross bike that could take full fatties of over 2 inches (60mm) which he used to his advantage on maybe 8 days over the full tour.My choice if money was no object:

Titanium 29er with short-ish top tube to allow for drop bars or Titanium cyclo cross with enough tyre clearance for big fat tyres with a compact crankset 34-50 and MTB Cassette for extra range (requires MTB derailleur). I’d choose bar end shifters for reliability.

Suspension:

I'd avoid suspension but that's a personal choice. I just wouldn't trust it over 12000km of riding. Most people had no problems apart from leaky seals but you are recommended to service every 40 hours or something silly like that. Not that I ever take notice of that at home either though. I’m of the never service shocks mentality. And suspension doesn’t work on corrugations. Just get fat tyres. There were only 2 half days of true mountain biking style descents where suspension would have made it more fun. The off-road on this tour is not what you would call mountain biking, it’s just rough and long with no skills required except for maybe the sand riding.

Gearing:

I used a compact crankset of 50-34 and an MTB cassette of 11-34. This easily handled the worst climbs. You could get away with an 11-28 I think. The legs thanked me for the lower gearing at the end of a long day when there was a steep climb as a sting in the tail.

MTB of 22-32-44 * 11-34 or 12-32 or 11-28 would all work fine

Road of 34-50 * 11-28 would be preferred but 39-53 * 11-28 would work if you are strong on hills. If you are strong you could get away with an 11-25 cassette but you’ll be grinding up some hills.

Gradients aren’t that bad. Climbs over 10% are very rare and most climbs were under 8%. There’s no European col equivalents apart from the Gorge stage in Ethiopia which had about 1400m over 20Km but only had a few pinches over 8%.

When I got tired at the end of tough sections and days I’d regularly be in lower gearing than normal so if you are at all worried by hills or tiredness get a triple crankset.

Tyres

Go Fat!

Tyre choice was almost more important than bike choice. One of the most important attributes of any frame was how big a tyre you could put in it. Cyclocross bikes generally went to 38mm tyres or possibly 40mm at a push. That's not a lot of tyre for Kenyan lava rocks or 90km of horrible Sudanese corrugations.

I was riding a Surly long haul trucker that can fit big tyres no problem. For the road I was running 1.1 inch (28mm) Schwalbe Duranos which were pretty fast. For offroad I had a choice of 1.6 (42mm) Schwalbe Marathon Supremes and 2inch (50mm) Schwalbe Marathon Extremes. I used the 50mm Marathon Extremes in Sudan, Northern Kenya and a few stages in Namibia. The rest of the off-road sections I used the Marathon Supremes which are slicks and don’t have much traction so I had to be careful for example the sand in Tanzania. On the road the Duranos were perfect; fast and light. I punctured a couple of times on these even with tyre liners (once was a 1.5 inch long screw). I managed to get thorn punctures through the sidewalls of the Marathon extremes (the liners didn’t go down that far). That was twice in one day in Sudan. I consider my puncture rate not bad. Africa IS spiky... A set of Marathon Tour or the really heavy original ones would have gone puncture free for entire route I think (and did for some people). If I was doing the trip again I would be happy with the compromise of just 2 sets: duranos on the road and fat extremes off-road. If you don’t want punctures get Marathons.

Other Bits:

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Aero-bars – I didn’t have these at first but got Kitty to bring a set when she joined in Nairobi. They made a massive difference and I’d consider them a must for the tour.

 

Bike Build review

 

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The build was as follows:

Frameset - 56 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker Frameset

Wheels - Rear - Hope Pro 2 36 hole hub laced to a Mavic XM 719 36 hole with DT Swiss DB Competition Spokes

Wheels - Front - DT Swiss 240 32 hole hub laced to a Mavic XM 719 32 hole with DT Swiss DB Competition Spokes

Tyres - 26" - Schwalbe Duranos 1.1 width, Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 1.6, Schwalbe Marathon Extreme 2.0

Drivetrain - 9 Speed - Cranks - Shimano FC-R700 - compact crankset (double -34-50)

Chain - HG93

Cassette - Shimano SLX MTB 11 - 32 cassette & Shimano SLX MTB 11 - 28 cassette

Front Derailleur - Shimano Deore LX

Rear Derailleur - Shimano Deore XT

Shifters - Dura-Ace Bar End Shifters

Brakes - Avid - Single Digit 7s

Brake Levers - Tektro RL520

Stem - Nitto UI-85EX

Bars - Nitto Noodle 46cm

Seatpost - Thomson Elite

Saddle - Brooks Imperial

Pedals - Time MTB Atac

Everything performed perfectly apart from the Brooks saddle which collapsed on one side and couldn’t be fixed by tightening the laces. This was replaced by my cheapo Charge spoon which is still going with maybe a total of 15,000km on it. The gear cables used an extra-long under tape path on the bars which meant that after 10,000km they felt a bit imprecise. A new set of cables fixed this.

I’m impressed that the bottom bracket, rims, hubs and pedals are still going strong after 16,000km.

Other things that broke were bottles cages and my Lezyne saddle bag. I got through 4 bottle cages which fatigued & snapped on the rough roads. Luckily I had spares and could buy others from sectional riders. I’d suggest buying expensive cages. The saddle bag’s Velcro wore out and the bag had to be zip tied on to make it to the finish.

 

Bike Spares

 

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I took 20kg of spares including tyres. See http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/blog1.php/2011/12/25/panic-about-packing-stuff-no-2-bike-spares for full details. That was probably a bit much but I would rather have been prepared. Our dry weather meant the bikes lasted pretty well with lack of wet weather wear. Wear would be way worse in a wet year.

 


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The bike had the drivechain replaced in Namibia (chain, cassette, big ring 50T changed.) The 34 T chainring only saw action in Ethiopia so didn’t need replaced. I had done 2,000km on the old one prior to the tour so it was changed at 12,000km. I probably could have lasted the whole way but as I had a spare I changed it out. It also got a full new set of brake and gear cables at the same time and new brake pads.The tyres all lasted the full tour but the duranos were looking a bit chopped up at the end due to the amount of crap on the road and the amount of rough rocky riding that you would have to do as part of road sections. When we reached camp after a road section sometimes we would have to ride a few hundred meters on gravel or dirt.

I got through 2 4oz / 120ml bottles of Chain Lube and then had to borrow more from others in the final weeks.

 

Equipment & Drugs n stuff

 

See packing lists –

http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/blog1.php/2011/12/25/panic-about-packing-stuff-no-2

http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/blog1.php/2011/12/25/panic-about-packing-stuff-no-2-bike-spares

http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/blog1.php/2012/01/01/panic-about-packing-stuff-no-3-electronics

Stars of the tour equipment wise were the tent, the cot and the headtorch along with all my electronics (every single bit of it).

The cot was outstanding (luxylite). Get one. This was as comfortable as a bed.

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The Contour HD camera got some good footage but I stopped using it as footage doesn’t capture scenery that well. It’s good for action. But in 5 – 8 hour stages how much action is there.Africa is hard on electronics. Assume that it will break on tour so I wouldn’t take anything you would be really pissed off with losing or breaking.

My netbook lasted OK but several people had issues with hard drives or screens.

The solar charger was a dud. It took about 18hours of full sun to reach full charge so was pretty useless. It was handy to have as a backup battery though. I managed to get about a charge and a half for the GPS out of it which made the GPS last about 6 days which was enough for most unpowered sections. I think we only had one section where my GPS ran out of power and I couldn’t charge. I would advise getting a good fold out solar charger if you want electronics the whole way.

I don’t normally use chamois cream but this was a must for the tour. I used it most days.

I ended up never use the mossie- repellent. I normally use this a lot in SE Asia so I was surprised I never used it. Mossies weren’t that much of a problem most places possibly because it was a dry year. And even when they were around most of the time I just went into my tent and hid from them rather than rub another layer on crap onto my skin which had enough from sweat and sun cream.

A large plate is advisable for piling up food at dinners. My original little plate was just too small. Luckily Andrew could supply me with a spare Giant one he had.

 

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Check the size of that badboy platter

 

 

Clothes

Of all the clothes I took (http://more-erratic-wanderings.com/blogs/blog1.php/2012/01/02/panic-about-packing-stuff-no-4-clothes) the only thing I didn’t use were my waterproofs. Sometimes I wanted more especially on the bike after wearing the same things for so long. An extra top might have been nice. Make sure you like all of your cycling gear as you will be wearing it a lot. I had two favourite tops and two that I didn’t like so much which meant I wore two to death. I’d rather of had 4 tops that I liked a lot.

Off the bike is never really an issue. Camps are relaxed and even hotels in Africa are pretty relaxed. Minimal off bike clothes are required.

 

Campsites

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al">Desert camps and bush camps were actually really great. No toilet tents and generally lots of space for setting up tents.

The camps that were bad were where people were around like football pitches. Some of these were OK too but the toilet tents were really horrible.

Up north some sites that were used for camping had toilets already but they weren’t built for so many people so they quickly became unusable.

Many a time we wondered at how disgusting people quickly became, piling shit on top of a blocked toilet without a care... And also the fact they didn’t seem to know where their arse actually was. This eventually even prompted a staff demonstration of how to shit in a hole!

It really was a shocking reminder how feral “civilised” people can be!

There were some really amazing sites as well. The camp overlooking the rift valley gorge was stunning and as we got farther south the campsites became better and better. Working showers, toilets and some even had pools.

Up north it was normal to go all section (up to 8 days) without a shower or even a bucket of water. Farther south buckets were possible and surprisingly refreshing. Where there were showers most were cold until past Nairobi and not regularly warm until Namibia.

 

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Buckets with audience

 

 

Despite my initial enthusiasm, wet wipes are terrible and don’t allow you to get properly clean. Your skin ends up cakes in grime from sweat and road dirt. After the long sections without a shower it was amazing to see the colour of the water coming off you when you hit the shower at first. I still remember at the hotel in Khartoum the water ran red brown grey for about 10 minutes. It does make you appreciate the shower though.

 

People

The tour director warned that this was not so much a tour through Africa but was in fact a social experiment. This was fairly true.

It reminded me of being back at school and spending the entire day with people. You made close friends and had great times. When the tour ended, even the people that you didn’t love or even like were part of your daily life so you ended up missing them.

The great thing about it was people on tap. You could go and spend time alone or if you fancied a chat you could always just wander and plonk yourself down beside anyone and have a chat.

Groups formed but not exclusively cliquey groups it seemed. The groups mainly formed around riding speeds as you would end up spending most of the days riding with the same people or passing the same people again and again.

Our group was fairly well natured and there were no major arguments or falling outs. For such a large group pending that amount of time together that seems a bit rare to me. It may be something to do with being reasonably like-minded people. It may even have been a fairly homogenous group. Not many small minded, misogynists, racists or bigots choose to go on a self-propelled tour through Africa. The other similarity was obviously money. The tour is not cheap so it is fairly self-selecting. The participants tend to be educated, intelligent and prosperous.  There was no arrogance and only some selfishness. I think that again comes from the fact it is a bike tour. These types of people wouldn’t choose to travel by bike. Just my view, and possibly rose tinted.

The daily dose of cycling induced endorphin euphoria also helps cement relationships and chill people out. More often than not people were in a good mood despite some winging about the hardships.

There were petty annoyances which came up as in any part of life were mainly around fair allocation of resources. Food queues, best campsite, shops running out of stuff, hotel running out of rooms. Any grievances were quickly forgotten though.

A bugbear of mine was treatment of local service industry staff like waiters and hotel staff. Some people really treated them like a lower form of life. You need to remember it is Africa and it has its own rhythm which is slower. Add to that 50 riders descending on the same place at once and it caused some major delays at some points while waiting for food or service. Just chill out people!

Money

Cash is king. US cash is not despite advice from the TDA organisation. It’s not like Cambodia in the 90s. You can’t spend US dollars many places. The local shops want local currency. One rider acted on advice from the TDA to bring lots of $1 bills and ended up having major issues changing them at banks. He couldn’t use them without changing to local currency. You get better rates for large bills like $50 and $100s.

Cash machines work (with varying success) in Egypt, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Tanzania (only in large towns), Lilongwe, Lusaka, most of Namibia (most camps had one but some didn’t work or would be quickly exhausted) and all of South Africa. There was a lot of borrowing going on as some people ended up with more cash than other. Credit cards worked in roughly the same places. That leaves a lot of places in between with no access to money so make sure you get enough cash. I spent approximately $4000-$5000 USD in the 4 months but I was staying in hotels where possible. These become expensive in Namibia and South Africa some costing $200 a night. There is a healthy black market for exchange in Sudan and Malawi with much better rates on the street. Malawi may be a bit different now with the devaluation of the Kwacha that took place in June 2012. For changing US dollars is the best currency.

 

Health

 

Your arse chafes. Even on a brooks! My brooks imperial flopped on one side and ended up chaffing one side. I think it's a personal arse shape problem though. My arse always chafes on one side. The distances on TDA just don’t allow it to recover properly. The lack of washing facilities doesn’t help the infections. A lot of people had no issues but a lot had recurring issues the whole way. My saddle sores luckily only lasted a couple of weeks.

You will get ill (unless you are very, very lucky). I got ill for about 6 weeks - I think it was giardia. Low level diarrhea, bloating, nausea that meant I couldn't eat properly. I was picking at breakfast, not able to eat lunch apart from a couple of bananas then picked at dinner for about 6 weeks. Occasionally I would feel strong but most of the time I felt about 60%. On the plus side it made me lose 10 kilos so when I got my strength back I found that all of a sudden I could now climb fairly well.

You will get skin infections. Falling off on the offroad or even small scrapes from camp all got infected. There seemed to be a lack of tolerance to African bacteria and most people over 40 ended up getting skin infections at one point or another. After a small stack in Kenya I had a couple of scrapes on knee and elbows that started out OK but then refused to heal and got infected. I had to get on the anti-bs to clear it.

And talking of falling off - you WILL fall off. Most people did at some point or another. Some were pulled off by mentals (Shona in Egypt), some crashed into overenthusiastic children (Carla & Nola in Ethiopia), some crashed into donkey carts in youthful exuberance (Adam in Sudan), some were crashed into by cars (Doug in Egypt), some were knocked over by trucks (Lisa and Holly in Namibia), some were attacked by sand (many people), some came a cropper changing from one lane to another in the rough stuff in Sudan and Kenya, some came a cropper on rough descents (Gennesse in Namibia).

The injuries included serious issues like separated shoulders, broken hips, broken ribs, hematomas on legs, arms, ribs, down to the usual road rash and also some face puncturing. The staff handled all of the serious injuries very well.

There was a case of pneumonia that required hospitalization and evacuation and also a fair few cases of UTIs that prevented riding for a while.

Fitness

 

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al">As someone who has trained and raced and generally kept fit for 25 years, I thought I knew my body. Turns out I underestimated some aspects and overestimated others.I never thought I would ever react like a “pro” to the lifestyle but I ended up realizing that my body was reacting exactly like the pro-cyclists (apart from the ability to ride my bike really fast of course).

I underestimated my mental stamina; I was easily able to ride long distances on my own or in groups and keep it motivation. It appears I can switch the active part of my brain off. Some days when I had had enough of people I would ride off on my own and twice I rode to stage wins over 185km and 160km. It was basically a 5 hours individual time trial that I ended up enjoying the solitude and tunes obviously.

You learn what your body is capable and not capable of. I overestimated my recovery abilities. Until this tour my limitation had been training. I naïvely expected my body to have no endurance limits. In previous multi-day races of up to 7 days I continued to get stronger to the end. On the TDA, my body soon let me know that I needed those rest days to recover. You can't just ride for 6 hours every single day and keep getting stronger.

At the end of the tour I was as fit as I had ever been but probably lacked some of the upper end as there wasn’t very much sprinting for me. Most days we would avoid major efforts but occasionally there would be really fast sections that would help the upper end. The climbing legs came with Ethiopia and went with the transition to flatlands of Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

 

Favourite Countries

In order

Tanzania for its breathtaking scenery and views and friendly people. Not for shake-shake.

Ethiopia for its stunning landscapes, stunning looking people and lively kids. And fruit shakes. And the food. Pity about the stomach issues.

Namibia for its stunning barren otherworldly landscapes and good german apple pie and baking.

Kenya for its colourfully dressed people and beautiful north.

Sudan for its friendly reserved people and desert heat.

Zambia was hospitable and good looking verdant country but didn’t leave much of an impression in the short visit.

Botswana had long roads and elephants and a very good coffee shop in Maun.

South Africa was pleasant but we weren’t there for long enough to get much of an impression. The main impression was of well stocked supermarkets and off-season seaside towns that felt depressingly empty. Maybe it was just the cold weather and the fact we were about to finish the tour.

Malawi is second bottom only because it didn’t make much of an impression and because of the naughty hobbits in northern Malawi. It’s tough because the other countries were so amazing.

Egypt is bottom for the disappointing pyramids and stone throwing locals who seemed genuinely aggressive to ferangi. Also the roads are straight and flat and boring. 3% inclines are marked with truck low gear warnings. It was still fun and the locals we met properly like the riders who joined us were friendly and truly hospitable.

Favourite Tings – too many to list

The moveable village.

Camaraderie.

The staff.

Riding my bike every day except rest days.

Rest days.

Lunch truck! Best meal of the day.

Fruit shakes.

Ngorogoro.

The rift valley.

Mashed potatoes for dinner.

Pasta for dinner.

The Intercontinental Hotel in Addis.

Internet in the desert in Sudan.

The kids in Ethiopia.

Getting chased by kids everywhere:

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al">Too many more to mention.

 

 

Most Annoying

The Lockers

Stew!

Puff.

Toilet tents.

The daily routine of packing and unpacking.

Actually not that many more..

Weird learnings

You can't fart while pedalling.  You need to put in a half pedal until it comes out. (Learned over many days)

You CAN fart pedalling while standing up. (Only learned after 2 months of TDA and 35 years of cycling)

Racing

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Racing was surprisingly serious. The pace was fast and unrelenting until Zambia. There were true race tactics in Egypt and Sudan with cross wind breakaways and sprints. There were pelotons, pacelines and rotating pacelines. After about 30 stages a few including myself gave up on the racing aspect but the true racers in 2012 of maybe 6 people kept the pressure on the whole way. Occasionally those placed 4,5,6 would have a can’t-be-fecked day, but the top 3 didn’t let up the whole way. The race ended up being decided by illness and the off-road days. On road a group formed and there was a sprint at the end. If you want to win you need to be strong off-road and put the effort in to make time on your rivals.

 

TP for my bungholio

Toilet paper – Don’t listen to the scaremongering blogs on this. You can buy it pretty much everywhere and it’s not that bad. Unless you can’t live without your plush 20ply cotton wool style paper, don’t worry about it...

If you are tempted to do TDA, go for it, you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Subblog in action

scotland beer sampling

midnight sun porter is espacially good.

Deuchars IPA is good too. Less "flavour" though..

Dark island is pretty tasteless. Not a fan.

Old Jock is pretty good but lacks pleasant aftertones.

bike makeover

My brake levers were worn out so I decided to makeover the braking system for the next leg of the journey. TRP levers and TRP cx-9 cyclocross brakes to match. Bryce had used cx-8.3s  on the TDA with SRAM levers and they worked well so I decide to try them out.

This required a full re-wrap of the bars and full cable change again so that in turn required the first bike wash and clean since australia.

Looks sparkly!

You can actually see the gold of the chain again..

Levers look and feel great with tons of power. It may be a little soft and a little powerful.. Detailed review later.

The levers are way more comfortable than the previous levers; standard tekro levers.

The gears were feeling terrible and now feel light and like new again.

Kitty added some tape to hide the Ug surly decals.. and put her rack back on.

We are going to be heading up north touring for a few days as the weather has turned hot. Hot is scotland in may is 20 degrees.. It's stopped raining though..

Stage 94 - Yserfontein to Cape Town - It's all over

can't believe it!

Bikes of the TDA - pt 1

Stage 93 - Elands Bay to Yserfontein

later

Stage 92 - Strandfontein to Elands bay

the end of the race

Stage 91 - Garies to Strandfontein

later