We have entered Ethiopia and bad news…Deb lost EFI. But the good news is that Dave still has his and since there are only 3 women racers, (and all 3 are no longer EFI) she is still guaranteed a podium finish. Dave is doing amazing keeping the EFI going for team D!
This was a really tough week. 4 days of 140 km days with head and side winds followed by 2 grueling days of mountain climbing equalling 2500 metres on loose gravel with 12% grades.Yesterday was the hardest day on the tour with constant climbing and no relief on the downhills because of the rough road conditions. For my capabilities, we really messed up with our bicycle choice. Should have gone for a triple chain ring to have that “granny gear.” Dave managed fine, but I was out at lunch. A couple of days earlier, my entire body seized up at the end of the day due to losing too much salt over the several days of riding in 42º heat. Yes, it is no longer cold, the minute we left Khartoum the weather changed. Thank God for Dr. Janet (number one women’s rider). She is a strength coach for Xtreme Athletes and she patched me up by loading me with all of my electrolytes and calmed me down by explaining what was happening to me. Every move I made caused intense cramping, be it in my calves, thighs, fingers, ribs etc. It was awful. The only problem is that it takes a couple of days to recover from that depletion, and I just couldn’t get my legs back. It was with a lot of tears and frustration, but I finally had to board the bus.
Once again though, the other riders were so supportive Thanks Maria, Janet, Joya, Deb, Ashleigh, and sweet nurse Amandine for your support that day.
I can’t believe that another country has come and gone. This isn’t exactly turning out to be the African that I thought it would be. We are doing so many km each day that there is no time to stop and take it all in. I don’t think that we are being the greatest ambassadors to our countries. People line the sides of the road yelling questions at us and asking us to stop, but you can’t stop because you have 120km to go still and then you have to set up your tent, check your bike before tomorrow, get some soup (if you are not in early, the soup is gone and that sucks. I really love the soup as it is great for replenishing the salt) and try to relax and recover a bit for the next day. I would just love to take some time to explore these interesting villages that we race past.
At the beginning of the tour, Dave and I were stopping a lot to take pictures and video, but now we have started to ride straight through from Coke stop to Coke stop, snapping some photos while we sip our drinks. Ahh, the Coke stops.You start to live for them.
It has gone from freezing just before Khartoum to 42º heat. Dave took a photo of Alex’s bike thermometer that was baking in the sun during one stop and it reached 52º. Impossible, you say? Take a look at the photo. So, these Coke stops become very important. The water in our camelbacks is hot by mid morning and the awful Fast Fuel that they provide is completely undrinkable in the afternoon. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that I might get a lukewarm coke somewhere in the coming km’s. I actually become a little desperate when I haven’t seen one for awhile.
So, we are here in Ethiopia for 21 days. Our rest day today is in the northern town of Gondor. Looks like a nice town with a great history, but we won’t be seeing much of that because we have to change our tires for pavement, do our laundry, repack our red boxes, and tune our bikes. Rest days are really workdays. I know, I know, my blog isn’t the most positive this week, but isn’t that what these are all about? The good, the bad, and the ugly.Well, today it is a little ugly. Sometimes, you just can’t find the humour in things. Maybe by Addis Ababa I will be feeling better.
I did have a really great dinner at the hotel tonight. The contrasts are really amazing: 2 days ago at the border, we camped literally surrounded by cow manure, and now we are camping on the grounds of Gondor’s finest hotel. Dave and I splurged on a room for our sanity. He also deserved it for riding and finishing the toughest day on the tour.That was after hanging back with me almost all morning. It cost him a lot of time, but he made it up in the afternoon. He finished in 9 hours and that would have been 8 or less if he didn’t have to wait for me. But that’s the type of guy he is, he won’t leave his lady. There, now I am positive.