Tour D’Afrique Update: Tough Ride Through Namibia

Our CEO Gerald Corniel left Egypt in January 2010 on a 12500 km journey (via mountain bike) to Cape Town. He’s currently competing in stages in Namibia (one of the countries neighboring South Africa). The Tour D’Afrique will finish on the 15th of May in Cape Town. We wish him the best of luck with  his travels. For updates about his progress in the Tour D’Afrique you can read Gerald’s blog, African Ride.

Here is the latest update from Gerald Corniel about his race progress:

“Namibia is normally hot and dry at this time of the year, but for the 70 TDA riders who have battled cold headwinds and heavy rains since we left Windhoek it has been a bit of a shock. Namibia is tougher than I expected. We are doing the longest section on dirt of the tour with almost 1000 km of uninterrupted gravel roads. Namibia is not flat either, so when you mix, rain, sand and headwind on steep up hills, the cycling gets pretty hard… To make things even more challenging, the tour organization has planned very long sections here with riding days up to 173 km long. Such distances on tarred are already painful, but on dirt, they turn into something close to masochism…. But we have plenty to look forward, firstly this is some of the most exotic and surreal cycling landscapes I have ever traversed, secondly,

Cape Town is now really close… As I am writing this, we have 11 riding days left and about 1500 km to go. (half on dirt) Namibian landscapes are so unique and so different from what we have seen over this long journey. Even if the cycling is tough, it is with a sense of excitement that most of us are feeling as we get on our bikes at the early hours of the morning. The morning light on these colorful desert backgrounds is just magic. I have never seen so many riders stopping for taking pictures, even the racers in front have now understood how privileged we are to cross such places on a bicycle and many of them were stopping for pictures yesterday.

Namibia

The thunderstorms we went through over the past 3 days added some dramatic dark blue colors to the sky making the whole landscape even more dramatic. I must have spent more than 2 hours taking pictures yesterday alone. The clear skies have returned to compliment our rest day in Sesriem, a tiny place that reminds me of the “Bagdad café” movie. One petrol station, one camping and a lodge in the middle of the desert. A beautiful and calm little oasis lost between the red sand dunes and the mountains. The visitors are mostly South African and German tourists equipped to the teeth with flashy 4×4 vehicles. We don’t really fit into that category of people and I find it hard to communicate with these very pale and fat people. I have cycled over 10,000 km to get here and I simply cannot identify myself with a tourist that has flown to Johannesburg and rented a 4 wheel drive car there. I just feel that an entire world is separating me from these people. They also seem a bit scared about this big loud group of cyclists and only a few of them are actually making an effort to ask us some questions about our trip.

Here is a first warning about things to come, in less than 2 weeks we are all going back to our normal lives and some of it already scares me a bit. How do you explain what we have just lived, how do you ever look at overloaded supermarket shelves again without having a thought at how we struggled to get hold of simple products like toilet paper or toothpaste. How will it feel to see people eating twice what their daily food requirement is when our obsession has been to match our own calories deficit for the past 4 months? What do you respond to the “How was it?” question????….. On the other hand, I am really looking forward for not digging a hole in the ground to have a crap and packing up my wet tent in the dark at 5h00 am. I only have to pack my stupid locker 11 more times and that is definitely something to look forward to. This locker queuing and packing is one of the most irritating part of this trip. I hate it and so does every rider…

Namibia

My computer has been infected with a virus. This has resulted in a lot of complications for me, especially for keeping this blog running. I have helped so many people with Internet connection, lending my computer. Unfortunately, somebody has managed to infect it with a USB stick. Luckily, just about each TDA rider started the tour with one working laptop. By now, many have been either stolen or have broken down due to the horrific conditions we have gone through, from heat, sand and dust to humidity and plenty of physical abuse especially when the trucks went over corrugated roads for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres. David’s computer has survived every above mentioned threat so far, and that’s where from I am now doing this update.

The next 5 days are seriously hard and all efforts are going to be needed to remain EFI. Namibia is an easy place to lose EFI. The gravel roads are in good condition, so you tend to ride relatively fast, but there are many things to watch for. Most dips have thick soft sand in which it is easy to make a mistake and fall. One bad wipe is enough to hurt yourself and it is therefore important to remain focused until the end. On such long days, with the fatigue adding to the routine you tend to make more mistakes as you are nearing the end of your riding stage. I am not sure about when I will be doing the next posting, but most likely from the South African border where we will be enjoying the last rest day of this tour on May 9.”

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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