Day 1 – 134 km
Start – Cairo
Finish – the desert on the way to the Red Sea
In 1939 Britain declared war on Germany. But it wasn’t until May 1940 that the war started in earnest. During the first year of the war life in London still had a semblance of pre-war life. The first day of the TdA sort of felt like that. We had started but it didn’t really feel like it.
We left the Cataract Pyramid Resort in convoy with Police escort at about 7:15. It took us an hour to cycle the 10 km to the starting point at the Pyramids if Giza, where we hung out for an hour taking photos and doing the official start. We then travelled in convoy for another 30km until we were on the outskirts of Cairo. It was now almost noon. So about 4 hours of cycling to do 40km. We were then set free to cycle the further 94 km to our first desert camp. The sun sets sometime after 5pm. Some people didn’t make it before dark. I cycled with a group of 8 and then 4. We arrived about 3:40, including a lunch and a coke break. It was a good group. But none of us really felt it was ‘game on’ yet.
Our first camp was in the desert at the side of the road. There is an etiquette to desert camping that we all had to learn. It is all very sensible and designed to leave the desert in better condition than we found it. One of the first things you do in the morning is go get a shovel. You then walk out into the desert and look for a private spot – perhaps a little difficult on a flat plane with no vegetation. When you have found your preferred spot (comfortable, not too breezy, a good view) you dig a hole. You can picture the rest if you wish. When all of this is happening it is still not completely light so most people still have their headlamps on. So when you poke your head out of your tent in the morning the dots of light you see on the horizon are not constellations of stars with lovely Latin names. They are your fellow riders having a good dump.
Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.