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Nile Bike Ride Journal

Cycling Day 2

Tuesday 12th February, Edfu-Aswan (120km).

A very long and tough day. Up at 6:30am today, the standard waking time for the rest of the week, and started with some stretches. Grabbed the bikes (see image) then set off at 8am. The first 20km was pleasant, despite already being saddle sore after yesterday's ride. (This was to get much worse later in the week!) We had been told there there was one hill and a couple of "bumps" on today's route - we soon realised that Theo, the tour guide, had been keeping the whole truth from us, as there were a number of quite strenuous hills. Today was also a lot hotter than yesterday. The haze had gone, and from early in the morning the sky was blue and the sun bright and hot. Everyone began at a slightly slower pace today, all very aware that there was a long way to go.

The first stop was very welcome. The by now familiar array of fruit, nuts and water was present, and we all gladly partook. The sun was already quite high in the sky, and the scenery here was beautiful.

Immediately after the break we hit a 2km hill, which took us away from the Nile and out into the desert. This stretch was very barren and, with the hill, the most challenging on the ride so far. We soon discovered that we didn't even have the promised tail wind; thanks a lot, Theo!

The second stop of the day was extremely welcome. Here I, along with a large number of other women, braved my first wee in the desert - I fear nothing now! It was actually quite comical, wandering through the sand and rocks to find a private place, averting my eyes from the woman crouched behind almost every decent-sized rock! This kind of thing really brings it home to you just how much more convenient it is to be a man!

I have included a number of desert pictures, to illustrate how beautiful and desolate it was out in the desert. The first few were taken with the Nile still in view; as you can see, the further we got from the river, the more barren and isolated the scenery became.

This break was followed by a long stretch leading up to lunch. We were still in the middle of the desert, it was even hotter now, and Jason and I had once again become separated from everyone else and were riding alone. This made the barren empty space seem even bigger and barrener, and at times it felt quite soul-destroying. Eventually we began to head back towards the river, and finally made it to the lunch stop, absolutely exhausted, very hot, and ravenous.

Lunch seemed quite surreal (see picture on right) - a few small buildings in the middle of the desert, and some chefs, complete with silly hats, presiding over some vats of chicken and beef. The chicken, as usual, wasn't up to much, and a small wild cat that was hanging around had a tasty dinner! As we ate our lunch, we were able to watch our boat sail past on the Nile (far right). A few of us were slightly tempted to make a swim for it, but if anyone actually did, they stayed very quiet about it.

The toilet here (not that anyone got obsessive about toilet facilities during the week) was a hut with no door. The more resourceful among us asked a friend to stand guard for us!

The next stretch was the longest yet, and for me particularly challenging, as I always find cycling immediately after lunch quite difficult. It was by now extremely hot (in the high 20s), and my legs seemed to have turned to jelly. Whenever I stood in my saddle to relieve the aches in my arse (as we were all doing regularly by now), my legs shook. I took this as a bad sign, and stopped to stretch my legs, drink a lot of water, and eat an energy bar. Luckily I still had Jason with me to protect me from the big bad desert!

This stretch of the road had a bumpy ridge in it every yard or so - extremely painful, and this only added to the headache that I already had from dehydration, exposure to sun, whatever - at this stage, it was hard to tell. The ridges seemed to go on forever - must have been at least 15km. At times, I seriously wondered whether I would complete today's ride. The next stop (see picture on right) didn't come anything like soon enough. Everyone was very tired by now, and a number of people turned up at the stop on the bus, having been unable to continue.

And so, the final stretch - at last! This was a tough 25km, but the conditions were much better - it was cooler now, there were no more ridges in the roads, and we had the knowledge that this was the last stage of the day to spur us on! For the last part of the ride we were organised into groups in an attempt to avoid trouble with children in the villages we rode through. The fact that we had to do this seemed a bit scary, but we didn't have any trouble at all. Jason and I, who had been riding in a twosome all day, realised how much easier and more fun it is to ride in a group, and the last 10km or so approaching Aswan went much more quickly and easily.

The joy when we turned the final corner and came upon Aswan, the Nile and the finishing point for the day! Most of us had never cycled anything like 120km in one day before, and there was a definite feeling of exhilaration that we had made it. Even better, there were cakes - and they were full of yummy cinamonny goodness. Jason excelled himself by eating 5 of them. I only managed a meagre 3!

Waited a while for the rest of the group to gather, and some people rode on camels. The bikes were loaded onto boats (shown here on the right) and were ferried with us across the river to our boat. Dinner was chicken and beef again, followed by a tasty briefing in the bar again. Then it was thunk! into bed for me and straight to sleep again. Exhausted. Some of the group went into Aswan for the evening, but although I wanted to I was just too tired - I know my limitations.

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