Tour D’Afrique

The Tour D’Afrique is an annual race across Africa from North to South. I found it online by accident when I was looking for biking holidays in Africa and promised myself I would do it someday. Well, it was no holiday but it was the most intense, exhilarating and enriching experience. And it gave me material for my first book.

We cycled  through history as we left Egypt at the start of the Arab Spring, came into Southern Sudan on the day that the referendum results to declare it as an independent country were announced, and crossed Northern Kenya during one of the worst droughts in memory.

We also cycled in beating sunshine, driving rain, thick mud, desert sands,  and swarms of tsetse flies. Every day was longer than I thought it would be, either because my legs hurt and there was a headwind, or because something wonderful happened and time elasticated. Sometimes the days were horrific – cycling for 10 hours over corrugated sand ruts in 50 degree temperatures has left some permanent scars. And sometimes they were brilliant – whooping down mud slicks in Tanzania is hard to beat.

I was with 62 fellow competitors, who started off as strangers from a motley of nations and ended up being the TDA family. Above all, it is those relationships that made this adventure truly wonderful.

Training

Quite frankly, I did not do enough training before I went. This meant that the first stage through Egypt was full of extreme suffering. I had mountain biked regularly over the hills of the Peak District which meant I was nice and strong but I hadn't done enough distance. If you are thinking of competing, get the miles in your legs and get used to doing it day after day. That will stand you in very good stead.