Category Archives: Race Reports

Catching up on blogging! Cape Town and the End of TDA 2014

Well! OK, this post should’ve been posted 2 months ago, but I’ve been busy (lol, ok not *that* busy), and just generally lazy posting it. But it needs to happen so I can continue on with other things!

I left the tour with about 3 weeks left and fast forwarded to Cape Town, definitely the favourite big city I spent any time in in Africa, and possibly one of my favourite cities in the world now! It was pretty incredible!

Day 1 started with me looking for a bit of food and trying to find a spot to take a picture of Table Mountain from. I kept walking closer and eventually found a trail up the mountain, then a sign telling of two routes you could take, one hard and one easier. The hard route recommended being well prepared and not doing it alone and talked of hand-holds and climbing rocks to get up… All I had was my phone and a 500mL bottle of diet Coke, but I chose the hard route. I figured there’d probably be people on it and any poor weather that surprised me would still be pretty good for a Canadian… lol. 🙂

Anyways, some 3 hours after I left my hostel I found myself on top of Table Mountain looking down on the most amazing views of both Cape Town downtown (and port) and Camps Bay. It was AMAZING! 😀 One of the best hikes of my life, and I was so ill prepared for it. 😉 On the way down I took the easier route, which had about a billion steps in the rock and 100s of tourists climbing up asking me how far it was… It was sad to tell people it’d be at least 45min more when they were clearly suffering… But I hope they did it! It was well worth the climb! I’m just so amazed that I could leave my hostel downtown and find myself on top of an 1100 meter mountain a few hours later! 😀

The next day I walked down to the water and around Lions Head to find myself in the richer part of town and eventually Camps Bay, though really Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton, etc were all rich areas of town. I was pretty flabbergasted by the show of wealth here in CT after months in the rest of Africa where poverty was everywhere.

After exploring the beach and relaxing in Camps Bay a bit I decided that it was too great an opportunity to not run through the pass between Lions Head and Table Mountains, and did just that. I followed Kloof Rd up the 250ish meters to the pass and then came down the other side, I think about 5 or 6k to the hostel from there. A great run, and my last run in Africa. I ran at least once in every country I spent at least a night in (ie. not Zimbabwe, though I did ride my bike there).

The next day I had signed up for a tour of the Cape Peninsula, mostly to see the penguins, but also semi-excited about what else this tour had to offer. I was not disappointed! 😀 Such a great day! I met a great new friend, Nathalie, on the tour, and finally had someone to eat a dinner with on Long Street that night. Along the way in the day, we went on a small boat ride to see seals, followed by the penguins, a 12k mountain bike ride along paved roads in the national park at the end of the Peninsula, a climb up to the Cape Point Lighthouse, and then a visit to the SW-most point of Africa… Cape of Good Hope. Pictures of all this follows! 😀

Overall I’m glad I left the tour when I did. I missed some fun times it sounded like, but the riding got hellish and offroad again, which I would not have been ready for (remember people, if you’re reading this thinking about doing a TDA trip in the future, make sure to install cross-brakes on your bike if all you’ve got are roadie ones, omg! Could’ve saved so much trouble for me)… I’m glad I got to experience Cape Town in the warm and sunny time and not the rain that it sounds like TDA’rs got…

The tour was a great experience, and I met a lot of great people and saw a lot of great things. I just don’t think I was ready to do 4 months of the same thing every day, and it killed me in the end. 😉

While away I chatted almost daily with Danielle from back home here in Calgary, who started as a friend from tri club (Talisman) and ended up as a girlfriend, and since returning most of our days have been filled with training for Challenge Penticton, the old Ironman Canada course (3.8k swim, 180k bike, 42.2k run), coming up August 24. This has included going on the Elbow Valley Cycling Club’s 3 day 320k ride from Castle Mountain to Radium Hot Springs to Golden BC to Castle Mountain, a weekend in Penticton for Danielle’s birthday where we rode most of the Challenge bike course, and about 10 other workouts per week. My swimming is at an all-time best, I’d say, at least since I was in Cascade swim club as a little kid (circa 1992). Two weekends ago we ran Chinook Triathlon at Midnapore Lake (Olympic distance) and I set an 8 minute PB off last year’s time, even with a horrible T1. More on that later. Looking forward we have the Sinister 7 relay race, Calgary 70.3, and then Challenge Penticton on August 24. Hopefully life will settle down a bit more then and we’ll have more spare time. We get about 3-4 hours together a week of complete downtime where we’re not training actively or wolfing down a meal starved for calories. Long rides on the weekend have now hit 160k (a daily ride in Africa, sure, but tougher when combined with speed, interval, run, swim workouts, etc). And trying to have a life too!

PICTURES! And then later, more updates on my life and training!

Table Mountain Shrouded in Cloud
Table Mountain Shrouded in Cloud
Getting closer..
Getting closer..
Lions Head, which I didn't summit.
Lions Head, which I didn’t summit.
Hike in a group, take supplies, be careful, omg! Ok, I'll bring some diet coke.
Hike in a group, take supplies, be careful, omg! Ok, I’ll bring some diet coke.
I was rewarded with some awesome rock!
I was rewarded with some awesome rock!
Looking back at what I'm climbing up.
Looking back at what I’m climbing up.
The super easy way up. I avoided! ;)
The super easy way up. I avoided! 😉
Follow the yellow footsteps... Even when they're completely vertical.
Follow the yellow footsteps… Even when they’re completely vertical.
I will!
I will!
Climbing Aids!
Climbing Aids!
Oh man, I forgot how rough those shoes were by now.
Oh man, I forgot how rough those shoes were by now.
Looking back again.
Looking back again.
Some of the side of Table Mountain.
Some of the side of Table Mountain.
Another view of the Gondola.
Another view of the Gondola.
Looking down on Camps Bay and the other side of Table Mountain.
Looking down on Camps Bay and the other side of Table Mountain.
Nice Clouds. It was a bit cold and windy here but worth it!
Nice Clouds. It was a bit cold and windy here but worth it!
Nor up!
Nor up!
The top was foggy at first.
The top was foggy at first.
I've still got Diet Coke left! I also bought a water up here for the walk down. ;)
I’ve still got Diet Coke left! I also bought a water up here for the walk down. 😉
Me and the City Bowl
Me and the City Bowl
Another view towards Camps.
Another view towards Camps.
Me and Lions Head.
Me and Lions Head.
Starting the trek down.
Starting the trek down.
Great Valley!
Great Valley!
Another..
Another..
More City Bowl
More City Bowl
Looking up at my way down.
Looking up at my way down.
Looking up at my way down... again.
Looking up at my way down… again.
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
I saw a bunch of classic cars there... and a fair number of Crucks.
I saw a bunch of classic cars there… and a fair number of Crucks.
OMG delicious. I think this was at the Royal Eatery.
OMG delicious. I think this was at the Royal Eatery.
Truly western.
Truly western.
Kosher Diet Coke!
Kosher Diet Coke!
The sea wall somewhere around Sea Point
The sea wall somewhere around Sea Point
Look at how sad this puppy is!
Look at how sad this puppy is!
So many runners and cyclists around, so nice!
So many runners and cyclists around, so nice!
Listening to music while I walk...
Listening to music while I walk…
Lions head, and some dude on a scooter as I took the pic.
Lions head, and some dude on a scooter as I took the pic.
Dem views! Nice apartments!
Dem views! Nice apartments!
Wouldn't it be nice?
Wouldn’t it be nice?
Love it!
Love it!
Clifton Beach, I think! Amazeballs
Clifton Beach, I think! Amazeballs
What to do with a stranded marine animal!
What to do with a stranded marine animal!
Table Mountain from the other side.
Table Mountain from the other side.
My hostel's rooftop patio. Penthouse on Long.
My hostel’s rooftop patio. Penthouse on Long.
The morning of the Cape Point tour...
The morning of the Cape Point tour…
Seals!
Seals!

52-IMG_2808

The bay where our boat departed to go see seals..
The bay where our boat departed to go see seals..
Boulders Beach, African Penguin time!!
Boulders Beach, African Penguin time!!
So many tourists! And Penguins!
So many tourists! And Penguins!
Fuzzy!
Fuzzy!
Me and some Penguin friends!
Me and some Penguin friends!
Walking lonely across the beach.
Walking lonely across the beach.
Oh, you want me to pose? Ok then!
Oh, you want me to pose? Ok then!
Rider Meeting! haha... day tour style.
Rider Meeting! haha… day tour style.
Me and my borrowed bike for the 12k ride. ;) I convinced Nathalie to join me, but I think she'd have been fine with the 6k option.
Me and my borrowed bike for the 12k ride. 😉 I convinced Nathalie to join me, but I think she’d have been fine with the 6k option.
Nathalie taking some photos
Nathalie taking some photos
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me (different angle)!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me (different angle)!
This was a cool idea! Apparently it's all over the world though. Before I die...
This was a cool idea! Apparently it’s all over the world though. Before I die…
YES! Stop it!!
YES! Stop it!!
On the plane to start my journey home! And it runs Linux. :D
On the plane to start my journey home! And it runs Linux. 😀

First Days of Riding, 528km or so from Khartoum to Dongola, Sudan

So, onward we go! There’s a lot of text here, but 50 pictures below, so just scroll down if you’d like to see the pictures and captions. 🙂 Read the text if you’re interested!

We’ve had 4 ride days and most of one rest day at this point. They were not easy.

The first day was 87km total, including 15+ km through the city riding double file behind a police escort. Birgit and I were partners and rode together and chatted for this time, eventually leading to 4 days of riding together… It was alright, lots of people out waving etc, but most of us were interested in speeding it up and going a bit faster on the open road. Weather had a different idea for us.

30-50km winds, I’d guess… Pretty much all the way from Khartoum to Dongola. The first day of 97km took us something like 7 hours. Not what I expected. Birgit and I ended up on our own and I pulled her whenever practical.

The next day was an absolute slog. Fuck day 2. 148km of extreme headwinds the entire way. Eventually we got into a double line of about 8 people and it became my personal mission to get us all to the checkpoint before sunset cut off our riding. Phil and I pulled that line 90% of the way and we got everyone in! Success! But then the sun set immediately and we hardly had time for camp! lol. Off to bed. Every day bed is like 8pm, and I’m out like a light. Wake up a few times maybe, but always drift off again… 5am wakeups.

Day 3 was more hell. There was some times of light wind and we had a few more pullers in our little peloton but the peloton grew far too big and had too much inexperience probably, so a little after a delicious peanut butter bun lunch stop (seriously just put the whole jar of PB on that piece of bread for me please and I’ll eat it all, just lather it!) we had our first accident. Birgit motioned for Mateo to pass and there was a misunderstanding and the bikes collided. Luckily no one was seriously hurt, but Birgit’s shoulder has been bothering her since, Mateo’s helmet was cracked hardcore and, and everyone was a bit shaken up. I added 6km to my daily total by riding the 3km back to lunch as fast as I could to get a medic. Mateo was still lying in the road when I left and I feared the worst, but he was up and going by the time I got back (and the medic got there). Both their days were over though and Mateo’s been borrowing helmets, and will continue to do so until a new one flies its way here from Canada.

It was sad losing my riding partner Birgit, but we found some tailwind as we reached the Nile and the road turned slightly East (and maybe the wind shifted a bit too)… We clocked close to 30km/h for a while, and it was delicious! I hit 150k this day due to my 6km addon, and it was about 8 hours total, giving me a few hours at Dead Camel Camp to sit back and chat with friends and family back home (we do a lot of chatting on the road, it’s ok to spend some time on the phone in the middle of 1000s of miles of sand, lol).

Day 4 the end was in site, but I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. We had a time trial 20km into the day and the TT was 20km itself. I was feeling competitive and yappy, but as I’d find out, I had nothing in the tank.

Somehow there was a miscommunication again and my group thought I was ahead of them, so they left without me and thus I had no drafting group for the first 20km to the start of the TT. Just Birgit, Sonia and I, and no one was really pulling, we were just chatting. We got to the TT with minutes to rest, something like 3, and then I took off and immediately ran out of energy. The 20k ride to the TT was faster by far! I got in a bad mood about being left behind at camp and being alone on the bike (more and more evidence stacking up about my extrovertness), and my spirits were really down for the first time. Luckily I turned a corner and saw a group of camels sitting together and it made me smile and remember I was in Africa to cycle through Africa and the race was nothing. I stopped for a photo and my time was horrible, but I did it and was happier in the end. Birgit’s spirits were lifted by beating me, something she bragged about for the rest of the day. Nice work, Birgit! lol.

The day ended up very long and void of any kind of energy. I felt like shit coming into camp, I could hardly be excited about it. I had a cold shower, unpacked my locker into my tent, and got to the falafel eating. FALAFELS ALL THE TIME. Jennilea gave me about a dozen falafels, Ina gave me a few more, I slept, woke up, ate 5 more for breakfast, went into town, had a falafel sandwich, walked a bit, had a bag of falafels… Man, I love this stuff!

Oh yeah, an aside about food! I’ve tried so many foods it’s impossible to remember them all now. Hot peppers, random beef dish, soup (I know, right? What’s wrong with me that ‘soup’ is something I’ve never had), pasta with some sort of taco meat (delicious, though I don’t like the pasta texture still), crunch peanut butter, palmello (a new favourite, thanks Michael! He found me just to make me try it), curry (on chickpeas – also new!), Spanish Lamb Stew (too many bones, but delicious too), falafels, everything!!

So today we got to see Dongola, which was awesome. It was nice to be walking around and get to talk without wind sound… Everyone was looking for food but most of the food was falafel, so falafel we had! The pictures kind of explain the day better than I can.

Overall I think even the tour staff agree that the first days were too hard. They didn’t plan on the wind, even though Northerly wind is common for the area. 10 hour days 3 days in a row is just too much for everyone. EFI is a status of riders that finish and have cycled every ‘faboulus’ inch of the tour without getting on the truck for a ride. We basically lost most of the cyclists in those days. Myself and about 11-12 others still hold on to EFI, but man, for the first days of the tour!

The 4 days on Strava/GPS: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Today I’ve missed out on the town-going supper groups, so I guess it’s falafels and burgers at camp. And hopefully a shave. In cold water. In the dark. This sucks, lol. I’m dumb.

Anyways, onwards and upwards! Next days’ kms before break in Atbara: 112, 110, 130, 124. Those numbers look so small! And with a tailwind. Man, we’re gonna fly!!

Maybe I’ll go for a run! 😉 See you later, friends! Message me on FB, Twitter, etc! Always nice to hear from you.

Getting ready to ride out in the morning of day one. No idea what's in store for us!
Getting ready to ride out in the morning of day one. No idea what’s in store for us!
Randy giving a speech to everyone
Randy giving a speech to everyone
Some riders listening to Randy's speech
Some riders listening to Randy’s speech
We're all lined up for a group photo and getting ready for our police escort through the city.
We’re all lined up for a group photo and getting ready for our police escort through the city.
The police escort is over, and we're getting ready to go out on our own. I don't think anyone's worried about the wind yet. It'll come.
The police escort is over, and we’re getting ready to go out on our own. I don’t think anyone’s worried about the wind yet. It’ll come.
Lunch stop! Just 7km down the road from the escort. Easy day! lol.
Lunch stop! Just 7km down the road from the escort. Easy day! lol.
Basically this is the view for the next bazillion hours.
Basically this is the view for the next bazillion hours.
Our first camp! We finally made it!
Our first camp! We finally made it!
Staff messing around on top of the truck.
Staff messing around on top of the truck.
Helen and Phil on the road having a laugh
Helen and Phil on the road having a laugh
More desert... Always desert.
More desert… Always desert.
Ack! Our first accident! Day 3. Birgit is down.
Ack! Our first accident! Day 3. Birgit is down.
So is Mateo. He hates having his picture taken, but I took it anyways. ;)
So is Mateo. He hates having his picture taken, but I took it anyways. 😉
David coming in to a rest stop at the end of a terribly demoralizing 3rd day. One of the trucks in the background.
David coming in to a rest stop at the end of a terribly demoralizing 3rd day. One of the trucks in the background.
Dead Camel Camp... legit.
Dead Camel Camp… legit.
Sunrise on Day 4.
Sunrise on Day 4.
The camels I stopped to take a picture of during the Time Trial. I said I wouldn't let the race interfere with my Africa trip, and I meant it!
The camels I stopped to take a picture of during the Time Trial. I said I wouldn’t let the race interfere with my Africa trip, and I meant it!
Birgit and Cam passing by on the road.
Birgit and Cam passing by on the road.
We found a neat little gate thing, but have no idea what it's about.
We found a neat little gate thing, but have no idea what it’s about.
CAMP!!! 528km in 4 days and we made it. Shower time!
CAMP!!! 528km in 4 days and we made it. Shower time!
Camp is an amusement park! lol
Camp is an amusement park! lol
Birgit and Phil washing some clothes.
Birgit and Phil washing some clothes.
Both the trucks together at camp... Two peas in a pod.
Both the trucks together at camp… Two peas in a pod.
More clothes washing.
More clothes washing.
We're off to town to explore!!
We’re off to town to explore!!
OK, Dongola is a crazy place. People, cars, dirt, and falafels everywhere. Everyone sells falafels. I must've had 50 falafels in a 24 hour period, and still may have more tonight.
OK, Dongola is a crazy place. People, cars, dirt, and falafels everywhere. Everyone sells falafels. I must’ve had 50 falafels in a 24 hour period, and still may have more tonight.
The women get creative with their dresses here... There's some nice colours in some, really!
The women get creative with their dresses here… There’s some nice colours in some, really!
Donkeys are a common site everywhere. It's strange seeing Donkeys on the same highway as super modern looking busses zooming by at 150kmph+
Donkeys are a common site everywhere. It’s strange seeing Donkeys on the same highway as super modern looking busses zooming by at 150kmph+
Man selling oranges down the road...
Man selling oranges down the road…
We bought some fruit from this guy. He was happy to pose for a picture.
We bought some fruit from this guy. He was happy to pose for a picture.
This guy was jealous of the first guy and also wanted a photo!
This guy was jealous of the first guy and also wanted a photo!
Mosques kind of dominate the landscape.
Mosques kind of dominate the landscape.
Birgit and Jennilea being tourists. Like me. haha.
Birgit and Jennilea being tourists. Like me. haha.
Birgit challenging me to ride across Africa on one of these trikes, not this wimpy supported tour of ours.
Birgit challenging me to ride across Africa on one of these trikes, not this wimpy supported tour of ours.
We stand out in the crowd.
We stand out in the crowd.
More of us and more of the Sudanese!
More of us and more of the Sudanese!
A hotel we found. There's a cafeteria where Birgit and I had some tea. Or Chai, as they call it... Indian word, but they use it.
A hotel we found. There’s a cafeteria where Birgit and I had some tea. Or Chai, as they call it… Indian word, but they use it.
Here's the tea being made!
Here’s the tea being made!
And here's the tea! I didn't add any extra sugar since she already put a heaping tablespoon of it into a glass that size.
And here’s the tea! I didn’t add any extra sugar since she already put a heaping tablespoon of it into a glass that size.
Birgit enjoying her tea.
Birgit enjoying her tea.
More donkeys in use. Some sort of Taxi stand behind.
More donkeys in use. Some sort of Taxi stand behind.
This guy also wanted his photo taken. He was interested in where we were from.
This guy also wanted his photo taken. He was interested in where we were from.
Lunch! A little sketchy, but it worked out. Their word for Beef here was Burger, but it wasn't a burger that I got. The sign had pictures of many food items but they sold about 5 of them.
Lunch! A little sketchy, but it worked out. Their word for Beef here was Burger, but it wasn’t a burger that I got. The sign had pictures of many food items but they sold about 5 of them.
Well, if we get sick from this drink at least I'll be sick with someone else.
Well, if we get sick from this drink at least I’ll be sick with someone else.
Kam and Claudia take some pictures on the walk back to camp.
Kam and Claudia take some pictures on the walk back to camp.
Plowing the fields oldschool style.
Plowing the fields oldschool style.
Cam and Mateo attempt to exchange some US dollars in front of a mosque in Dongola
Cam and Mateo attempt to exchange some US dollars in front of a mosque in Dongola
An advertisement for the amusement park we're camped at. I wonder if they licensed the use of this Mickey Mouse picture. LOL. Likely.
An advertisement for the amusement park we’re camped at. I wonder if they licensed the use of this Mickey Mouse picture. LOL. Likely.
They do have cattle!
They do have cattle!
HEY, another Donkey!
HEY, another Donkey!
The Nile as the sun sets behind me. Almost full moon in view!
The Nile as the sun sets behind me. Almost full moon in view!
The view of the sun going down behind me. Man, is it lush near the Nile. Just a few kms out, nothing but sand!
The view of the sun going down behind me. Man, is it lush near the Nile. Just a few kms out, nothing but sand!