This site best viewed using Internet Explorer
Journal front page Outward Journey Cycling Day 1 Cycling Day 2 Cycling Day 3 Cycling Day 4 Cycling Day 5 Free Day Homeward Journey sponsors And finally...

Nile Bike Ride Journal

Cycling Day 5

Friday 16th February, Esna-Luxor (80km)

Last day of cycling! Didn't sleep too well because of the cold, and also felt aware of impending Pharoah's Revenge. Got up feeling pretty ill, but determined to cycle. After a cautious breakfast, we left at around 8am. After leaving Esna, we turned off onto a quiet, long road to Luxor that ran alongside a little stream and seemed to go on forever. (In fact, it did go on for 60km or so.) This was the same road the coach drove down early on Monday morning when we first arrived, but I'd been too tired then to take much notice of it

There were little villages dotted along the route, each one full of welcoming children, and at one of these we made our first stop, shown here. (See far right for a picture of these children staring at us as if we were from another planet - well, we must have looked unbelievably strange to them!). We made this first stop fairly quickly, but I was feeling dire with my cold, and really needed the stop. Today was very much a case of gritting my teeth and getting on with it.

More of the same all the way to the second stop. It was actually quite tough going, and the cold certainly didn't help. We stuck to our by now well-established group - me, Jason, Connor, Susan and Liz. At the second stop, stocked up on tissues and steeled myself for the final stretch of the morning - the last 20km stretch of the entire ride, as the 20km after dinner was to be split into two smaller sections.

There was an accident just in front of us on this stretch. The handlebars came loose on one of the bikes, and its rider was propelled uncontrollably into his neighbour. Our group came up behind, and we stopped to help. Luckily, Liz (the nurse) was with our group, and she and Theo quickly took charge. Most of our group rode on, but Jason and I hung around until both of the riders involved in the collision were ready to go again. The accident looked very nasty, but thankfully there were only minor injuries. (One of the bikes, however, seemed to have suffered a painful death, and was replaced.)

This, of course, made the stage even longer, and standing around in the hot sun was almost as tiring as doing the actual cycling! We were right at the back of the entire group when we started cycling again, but were able to overtake about half of the riders before arriving at the lunch stop.

Lunch was at the Colossi of Memnon (right - shame about the scaffolding) - absolutely fantastic. I remembered seeing these last time I was in Egypt, but somehow having cycled there made the experience even more incredible! We had a covered spot with chairs and tables and an actual real toilet that flushed, with a seat and everything! (It was a bit dirty, but by this time it felt like luxury.) Spirits were starting to lift, with everyone knowing that there were only two short (10km or so) stretches left now. The fact that the first one was almost entirely uphill was something we were trying to push to the back of our minds.

Lunch finished, we ascended to the Valley of the Kings, in many ways the climax of the ride for me. Although short, this stage was extremely tough. The temperature had soared to a massive 31 degrees C, and with the exertion we were putting in to get up the hill (or as Gideon insisted, an "incline", not a hill, as a hill involved going down the other side as well!), it felt still hotter. It was an exposed spot and I could really feel the sun beating down on me. I don't think I've ever felt so hot in my entire life. It was as close an experience to being in an oven as I will ever have (hopefully!).

We stayed for an hour and a half at the Valley of the Kings, and were given guided tours of two temples and the option to visit a third. The Valley of the Kings is a truly fantastic place, but most of us were just tired and hot and wanted to get on with the ride, so the visit didn't seem to go down too well. I was unable to visit the first tomb due to its small size - I had an attack of claustrophobia at the entrance and had to make a hasty exit. After that, my bladder started complaining bittery, so I had to find a toilet, and then I just waited in the shade with a number of other people who were also too tired to wander around tombs.

As we prepared to start the very final stage of the Nile Bike Ride, I was intensely aware of the fact that the Pharoah's Revenge was going to get me very soon, but I implemented extreme willpower to make sure that I was able to do the rest of the ride! The cold was still bothering me too, and I really didn't feel well, but with only 10km to go there was no way I was getting on that bus!

So, the final stretch - virtually ALL downhill, and quite steep, so we all bombed down, feeling quite exhilarated! After a short flat stretch, we turned a corner toward the Nile and the entire group was collected together for the final half mile or so. Those who had been awarded yellow t-shirts (one was given each night to a worthy participant) led the group, and all together we made our way slowly to the finish line, carefully avoiding some fantastically-placed last minute obstacles - a brick in the corner of the road and a big pile of sand. At last, the finish line! As we approached there were whoops of joy (and relief!), and once over the line, lots of hugging and happy squealing ensued. Water bottle were emptied, mainly all over people. Thanks, Jason, for the surprise element in this first picture. I got my own back by emptying my almost completely full hydration pack over his head - you can see the result in the picture on the far right.

Many photos were taken. Personally, I alternated between feelings of euphoria, relief, and anti-climax - quite a weird moment. After a group photo, we crossed the Nile on little boats, and after a short walk made it back to our boat. Jason and Connor jumped fully-clothed into the not-very-full-at-all pool on board, then moved on to the jacuzzi, where they were joined by Susan.

I sat on deck watching a gorgeous sunset across the Nile against the backdrop of the Valley of the Kings - couldn't resist adding a couple of pictures of this.

I was still feeling ill, so after a shower I had a lie-down before dinner. Ate a lot at dinner because I was extremely hungry, but couldn't taste a thing because of the cold, which made me very annoyed. I was also very aware of an increasingly delicate stomach. Retired to bed while pretty much everyone else went to the sound and light show at Karnak Temple, followed by a belly dancer in the bar on the boat. Fairly annoyed at feeling so ill, but really I was just glad that I'd been able to complete the whole ride.

<<- Cycling Day 4 | Free Day ->>
Journal front page Outward Journey Cycling Day 1 Cycling Day 2 Cycling Day 3 Cycling Day 4 Cycling Day 5 Free Day Homeward Journey sponsors And finally...

Send email to Amanda Williams