Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rest day at Abu Simbel

Sorry that you haven't heard from me. It is Tuesday January 20 and I am in Abu Simbel. I think the place I am staying at has wi-fi but I was lacking battery power when I had the password and I am now lacking the password but has power. Some power. 

It has been an interesting few days. From Idfu we biked to Aswan and stayed in a Nubian village camp. The ride was rather stressful due to some incidents with kids in the towns along the way, but the camp was beautiful and homey. A couple of us went into Aswan to explore. Ended up grabbing some wonderful falafel and taking a felucca across the river to look at the tombs in the valley of the nobles. By then it was time for dinner - yes, eating again - in this crazy posh hotel. We weren't allowed into the fancy dining room but the food was incredible. Got some great photos, looking rather scruffy in such a fancy place.

From Aswan we rode to a desert camp along a long flat straight road. The desert is flat flat flat and it is really hard to find a pee spot where you aren't giving people quite a show.

Made it into Abu Simbel yesterday, our ride was just over 150 km and once again my long day was stretched even longer due to flats. Not my bike, the poor soul I was riding with had a slow leak and we played pump and go for the last 50-70 km. Getting into camp felt wonderful. Showers were cold and the beers expensive but there was paper in the (flush!) toilets and that makes everything okay. Great timing for a rest day too.Went into town for breakfast and to visit the temple this morning. The temple at Abu Simbel was moved, piece by piece, up away from the water when Lake Nassar was created by the Aswan Dam. My brain understood this until I saw the temple. It is astonishing. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that it was disassembled entirely.

Today has been a lovely slow day. I have done at least one of my chores - laundry is done but I still haven't patched my spare tubes. Lovely sunny day and starting to get hot during the day, stil, cooling off at night but not so much. It's a bit of a change from the snow at home but I may be dreaming of it soon. We cross into Sudan tomorrow and I think I may melt riding during the day. In the sand. Who signed me up for this shit. 

I'm kidding, I am having a fucking riot and never want to leave. I will see you all in 2025.

I am getting Internet! Hope it posts :)

Catching Up - Update from Idfu

I have been on tour for a full week now and it has been awesome. We rode through the desert for the first few days, that's why my post about the first day came on about the fourth. Tailwind and sun, then the nights got quite cool. Our second day was the longest yet. I wouldn't say the hardest though. It was long and flat, we ended up cycling around 170-175 km that day. I got flat after flat and couldn't figure out why, especially the last 30 km. I ended up racing the sun into camp, there was no way I wasn't riding the full distance. We got to the Red Sea on the second day and followed it until Safaga where we camped on a beautiful beach. Short day (84 km) into Safaga so we got to enjoy the sun and beach all afternoon. Day five was a big climb in the morning and a headwind after lunch - a bit of a push but the scenery was gorgeous and I was fortunate enough to ride in a group for the afternoon, that helped a ton. Day six was short again - just over 90 km - and that brought us into our first rest day in Luxor with all afternoon to get chores done and see some sights. 

Luxor was amazing. The afternoon we arrived there a few of us went to check out Karnak and dear god was that beautiful. Everything is positively huge. We hired a guide at the entrance and he talked non-stop for an hour. Pretty funny dude, he was very secretive about things he knew and the other guides didn't. He liked to wait until no one was around to tell us or show us some things about the temple. I took about a billion pictures of columns that no one will want to see simply because there are so many of them. Beautiful columns though. We went late in the afternoon and ended up being the last group in there, as I was walking out it felt like I had the whole temple to myself.

We have been relying pretty heavily on Nate in Egypt. Probably because he lived in Cairo and speaks Arabic. He took us to a wonderful restaurant for dinner and we wandered around after dinner for a bit. Found a bike shop and tried to buy tassels for handlebars. They were only on the kids bikes though. We were all admiring this extremely impractical horn though no one actually bought one. I bet I have one by the time I get back though. Looked at Luxor temple but didn't go in, it was really close to closing. It is light up beautifully at night. 

Up super early the next morning for hot air ballooning. Yep. Over the Valley of the Kings. It was indescribable. I am so so so happy that I got to go. Spent the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon on the West Bank checking out Valley of the Kings and getting in trouble at Hetcheopsut's (spelling?) temple - you need a ticket to be in the parking lot and we didn't have one and didn't know. By the time we got back to the east bank it was a little later than we expected so Will and I went on a short walk into town and got hassled continuously by taxi drivers. Besides that it was a great wander. It would have been great to have a day or two more to poke around a little but, hey, that's not what I signed up for this time.

Today (Friday, Jan. 16) we biked to Idfu, just over 100 km. Fucking beautiful day, incredible landscape and lovely weather. I've been riding in a group for the last few riding days and as much as I did enjoy riding alone sometimes, chatting with different people and having some company has been a lot of fun. We got in pretty early and went to (another) temple. Idfu is home to the temple of Horus, one of the most complete temples. It is huge and beautiful. My favourite was still Karnak, although I had so much fun exploring all the twists and turns of this temple. I am going to get lost inside one of these, just because I have to see every corner and the end of every weird staircase.

I will try to write a post for photos separately so that this goes up even if the internet sucks and pictures don't. Hopefully I can post this soon because I know I've been bad at keeping home informed of my doings. If you want to see more about the tour check out the TDA website, they have a tour blog and other riders are blogging too - some have links on the tour blog that you should be able to find with a bit of hunting. I think I am just going yo get worse and worse at posting so checking up on other blogs and #tourdafrique on Twitter and Instagram are pretty good ideas. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

First day out

First day of riding today (Friday January 9) and it felt great. Fairly flat road, about 130 km, beauty of a tailwind. I was flying. We started from the hotel in Cairo and in a convoy made our way to the Pyramids. There we took a few pictures and officially started! We stayed in a convoy for the first 30-40 km then we were on our own! Day went by so fast and it felt great to get going. Camping in the desert tonight and I think close to the Red Sea tomorrow. No pictures today, I haven't gone through my camera or anything yet so that will have to wait.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Merry Christmas!

So it's Christmas. Coptic, I believe but I could be wrong. 

After many hours of travel I arrived in Cairo but without my bike. Still dealing with that. Got in late so went nearly straight to sleep. Yesterday I tried calling the airport about my bike but couldn't get through so decided to go to the pyramids first and deal with the bike later. Pyramids were pretty cool and I had a lot of fun, but it was crazy windy so sand got everywhere. As well as the pyramids we saw kind Cheops boat and I think I was more excited about that than anything.

Getting around at the pyramids a few of us were on horses, a couple were pulled by horses and one rode a camel.

 I loved looking at the camels face it was so droopy and wrinkly and I thought it was just great. 

After we got back to the hotel a couple other people who lots luggage and I went to the airport to deal with it. Apparently it takes 67 times longer than you would think to get that done so I couldn't get mine last night. I think things are happening today though so I'm praying that I will have it built pretty soon.

Cairo has been good so far! First day of riding is on Friday - I'm getting really excited to head out. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Holy Sh*t

Am I allowed to curse in my post title? Apologies. I am leaving. I am also freaking out. I know I'm not actually flying out until tomorrow but I have said goodbye to my house and mountains already, and to the cold and snowy weather! In the last couple of days we have FINALLY got some real winter. A bunch of snow and it was -37 this morning! I'm glad I got one day of it, plus the sun made it over the mountains today so it was gorgeous.

Yes, packing has been crazy but my bike is bundled up in its box and my duffle is stuffed full of crap I think I'll need, all ready to go. I assume I will be re-packing stuff in Cairo, yuck. Packing blows. Thank god for all the little mesh bags I have, they make me feel like I can pretend to be much more organized.

My last glimpse of those monstrous mountains for several months was sponsored by a dear friend who may have chased me down an icy road a little to say goodbye. Goodbyes have been a little gross, somewhat frantic and hurried and very sad. My mom and I were talking on the drive to Whitehorse today about a Winnie the Pooh quite that we find applicable. I don't have the exact wording correct but it describes how lucky one is when goodbyes are so sad. I got a lovely and extremely appropriate card from my grandparents today:

A little redhead on a bicycle! It must have been made for me.