In January 2010 Gerald Corniel (Our CEO) was part of the starting line-up for this year’s Tour D’Afrique (a mountain bike race across the African continent). So far he’s traveled through Egypt, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, a little bit of Mozambique and Zambia. He updates his progress regularly on his blog.
Here’s the latest update from Gerald Corniel about the Tour D’Afrique:
“It has taken me 3 months and some 8500 km on my bicycle, but I have finally reached Vic Falls! It is a landmark in Africa as well as a crucial point for the TDA riders. This is the point when you realise that out of this extraordinary trip, there is hardly 4 weeks left. Now Cape Town is becoming a reality. When you start on such an expedition, you almost forbid yourself to think about the finish line, you want to focus on each stage and avoid mental fatigue. But Victoria Falls is the point where you can allow yourself to think about the end.
I am tired, but happy. Happy to have made it all the way to Vic Falls EFI (there are still 12 of us), but even more happy because I have finally rejoined my life time partner, Jaana. We have missed each other a lot and it has been a long 3 months and 4 days, but it has also been good to us as we have used this separation to think about our lives and the future projects we would like to engage in together.
When you live a normal life, the routine gets to you and rarely allows you to put things into perspective in your life. In many cases, it is unfortunately a big problem like a grave illness or a divorce that forces people to look back at their lives and take important decisions. Well, I feel very fortunate that I do not have to report on any grave problem, but thanks to this extraordinary adventure I am living, I am in the very fortunate position of having been detached from the material world. This has given me plenty of time to think about the bigger picture such as my personal future, the very meaning of happiness and what makes us happy. I have met so many happy people who owned absolutely nothing, but yet so nice and I also know so many people in the life I come from who have absolutely everything from a nice house to free access to medical treatment and yet they are miserable… So when I say that such a trip allows you to put things into perspective, believe me, it does. One thing I came to realise is that I stroke the lottery of life when I was born in a rich and developed country like France, and this trip has taught me that I should never forget that.
I am physically very tired and the 2 days brake we are given at this world famous site are going to be spent recovering. After riding 500 km in the last 3 days we have now reached the southern end of Zambia. The last 3 trading days have been fast with strong winds (mostly tail winds), so it has meant average speeds well above the 30 km per hour and long distances. We have done what we call pace lines which means that a group of riders get into one straight line and relay each other in front every 3 to 5 km. This is such an efficient way to ride that single riders have no chance and get caught very quickly, even if they are stronger riders.
Victoria Falls is one of the most beautiful natural sites I have ever seen. Jaana and I have been here several times before, but each time you get in front of this wonder of nature you get goose pimples. This is a truly magnificent place. When you are at the Vic Falls, there is one hotel you must stay in at least once in your life, the Victoria Falls hotel. Situated in the Zimbabwean side, it offers the best view of the falls in the distance and the bridge that crosses over the gorge between the 2 countries. Victoria falls hotel was built in 1903 and if you want to experience what Victorian living was about, well there is no better place in the world than this hotel. Nothing has changed here, you feel back in time a hundred years when you enter this wonderful hotel. One of the highlight of the day is the high tea served at 15h00 on the terrace facing the falls. Many movies were shot here. I can guarantee you that there is no better place in the world than this terrace to enjoy a Gin and Tonic. The service here is impeccable with neatly dressed white jacket butlers wearing a safari hat. Life in this hotel seems to be slowed down,a sensation of well being floats in the air, you feel emerged into history and pampered in a perfect Victorian style… Just what the doctor ordered for me, I am so looking forward for enjoying the 2 rest days in such a great place.
So, there are exactly 4 weeks left and 2 countries before we get into South Africa. My next blog post will be from Botswana, and from there we will be heading for Namibia. There are still plenty of tough days ahead, with some 3500 km remaining. The stages in Botswana are going to be long. We will do almost 1000 km in the next 5 days, so it is plenty of saddle time remaining. In Namibia we have a very long dirt section as well which is a tough one. So I want to remain focused and to tackle each days as if it was the most important one. In any case, there is no such a thing as an “easy day” at TDA. Jaana will join me again in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia in 2 weeks.”