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Day 26 The last day in Iran. We set out in the dark and get one of the most impressive sunrises so far when the sun comes across the mountains on an empty desert road. We directly climb for 40km to a pass at 2000 meters before descending most of the afternoon. The temperature has risen again and makes cycling tough. After 250km we reach Shiraz, the end of leg 1. Time to prepare the bike for tomorrow's flight to Cairo and do some admin for Africa. 6.000km done now and very excited about Africa.
Day 27 Transfer to Cairo. We sleep until 8 am and then stay an hour at breakfast. We pack our bikes and our Iranian friend Hossein brings us to the airport. After a stopover in Sharjah, we land at midnight in Cairo and directly cycle out of the city to avoid traffic. Africa finally
Day 28 An Egyptian friend Helmy joins us for the first km until we reach the Nile Route. Road conditions are terrible and traffic too. The road first follows the Nile. It climbs out of the valley and into the desert. We get stopped at a police checkpoint and have to wait for an hour. They want to force us on trucks which we can’t of course. I call Helmy and he negotiates that can ride but with an escort now. 50km later we are stopped again. This time they want to bring us to a hotel off our route. Again Helmy helps out and negotiates a prison cell for us. Free to leave at 04.20 am.
Day 29 We slept terribly as the police talking loud on the radio transmitter all night. At least we can leave at 04:30 am after water and chips which they brought us for breakfast. We have escorts all day and they change at each checkpoint. Luckily our Egyptian friend Helmy had a few words with them and they are super friendly and organized. The police car and crew are always ready when we arrive and leave immediately. Zero problems until the evening. In the morning we ride in the desert with a strong tailwind, averaging 45 km/h until we are back in the Nil valley where the wind is weaker. After 308 km we reach a small town where we want to sleep. The police bring us to the station instead of a guesthouse. Unfortunately, no one is in charge and wants to take responsibility. This goes for one half an hour until I reach Helmy and he pushes for a decision. Now they escort us to the local mosque where we sleep. The mosque housekeeper is incredibly friendly and brings us dinner. Good to have a decent night of sleep after yesterday's prison cell.
Day 30 At 5 am the police escort pics us up and follow us along the Nile. After 30 km we reach the first checkpoint where they are supposed to switch. Unfortunately, Mahmoud, the checkpoint commander is sleeping and no one dares to wake him or take responsibility. 50 minutes later we can continue cycling with a new escort. We just cycle a few km until a new checkpoint with a similar leadership issue. I had enough and call our friend Helmy who intervenes. It worked and we cycle smoothly all day.
Outside Luxor, the police suddenly turn and we can continue alone. It's a tourist hotspot and apparently considered safe. We continue along the Nile to the village of Al Aydah where we get invited to sleep in the mosque. The major and city council all come to invite us for tea. Wonderful hospitality.
Day 31 Philipp wakes up with food poisoning. We ride out of the village and immediately into the Sahara. He feels weak but we continue riding as we want to get to Aswan before noon. After two hours we stop at the hut of a local tribesman. He gives us water and Philipp rests in the shadow. He feels too weak to continue riding and goes per Taxi to Aswan into a hospital. I ride to Aswan in the heat at noon and struggle heavily. I drink 4 Liter on 60 km and go to the hospital to catch Philipp. Unfortunately, the police have come to the hospital and worries too much about tourists. No one has taken care of Philipp and the only thing the police want is that I sign a paper stating that they have behaved ok. I bring Philipp to a hotel where we get some rest. We marked the position where he took the cap on GPS so he can take a taxi back and continue riding from there. Food poisoning takes 2-3 days to recover and we are going to a remote part of the Sahara. Rest days are not possible as the body and mind will shut down. Tough days ahead.
Day 32 One of the worst days ever on my bike. Philipp decided to scratch in the morning. He is physically feeling better but the prospect of crossing the Sahara made his decision after he had been suffering from day 2 on. I had out into the Sahara alone. After running low on water and suffering from dehydration, I accept Nile water from a tribesman. I get quickly stomach problems and suffer heavily all afternoon in the merciless desert. After 230 km I get stopped by police at a Checkpoint. I want to continue riding to Argen at the Sudanese border but they make me stay and pitch my tent at the Checkpoint. There is no food and I haven't eaten all day and it's loud as they are shouting around and have their radio transmitter on. Sleeping impossible. While I can go to the toilet etc. there is always someone following me. When I walk 2 meters in a different direction immediately someone shouts „stop“. Effectively I feel like a prisoner. 100 km to Sudan and I am so looking forward to crossing that border.
Day 33 When I want to set off at 4 am my escort is not there and they don't let me ride alone. One hour of negotiations and I finally set off. 250 meters later I am stopped at a military checkpoint. Different jurisdictions and they don't let me continue. 30 minutes of further negotiations and I can continue. A strong tailwind blows me to the border and I see a long line of Sudanese waiting in the sun. The border is closed and no one knows anything. At 11 am the border opens and the Sudanese storm in. It's the most corrupt border I have ever seen. The Egyptian officers make people wait until you pay to get your passport stamped. There is no water and after waiting another 90 minutes I am completely dehydrated when I finally cross to the Sudanese side. It's such a different world. Everyone welcomes me into their country and assures that this is not like Egypt. Passport procedures take 5 minutes and instead of corruption I am invited for lunch and tea. I had off into the desert on a small road that goes through a remote part of the Sahara with almost 1.000 km to the next city. There are no shops or anything for hundreds of kilometers and the desert heat my water supply diminishes too fast. At night I see a camp next to the road and ask for water. They are gold miners and invite me to stay. We sleep in beds that are put outside into the desert and eat a tina portion of food. I am still hungry but know that this is everything they can afford. There is no bottled water and I am back to drinking Nile water.
Day 34 Still in the dark the miners make breakfast. Tea and a few dry cookies but their hospitality are incredible. I make good progress until noon when the wind suddenly changes directions and comes at full speed from the front. It feels like I am riding with 12 km in an oven against a hairdryer. It sucks out my energy within minutes and I realize that I may get into a serious situation. I got the information that there is a little cafe ahead and make it with my last energy. I am completely knocked out and rest on the floor for two hours before continuing when the wind gets less. I feel absolutely miserable with stomach issues and not having eaten nothing but push through the night to get out of this remote stretch of the Sahara quickly. Despite my suffering, the night ride is incredible. Its full moon and the desert finally seems peaceful. After a few hours, I get to a police checkpoint and they invite me to sleep there on a bed under the stars. The invitation isn't Egyptian police-style but simply a kind gesture and I gladly accept. 260 km in the end after yesterday's 190. I am surprised by it after how I felt at noon.
Day 35 I set off before sunrise and feel miserable again. I haven't eaten properly for three days and am still relying too much on Nile water. I find a little shop that sells cookies for breakfast but at least I can stock up on bottled water. I push against the wind but feel the lack of energy and make little progress. Luckily the road goes a bit closer to the Nile now and there are a few shops although they don't sell any appropriate food for cyclists. At noon I am completely finished by heat and wind and sleep in a restaurant. I continue when it gets a bit colder and again struggles heavily. At sunset, I reach a little village that surprisingly has a hotel. When I climb the stairs I am surprised to be greeted by a Russian who is looking for gold in the desert and runs agricultural projects. We had out for dinner together and he shows me a restaurant that has delicious chicken, such a welcoming change.
Day 36 I feel a bit better and head out into the dark. At sunrise, the wind picks up and quickly builds into a strong headwind. The sand is blown across the road and gets into my eyes, ears, nose, simply everywhere. After 95 km with an 18km/h average, I stop for a Cola and a few cookies. I continue riding with equally slow progress in the afternoon and stop at sunset in a little village. The policemen invite me for dinner and the restaurant owner offers me a bed which I thankfully accept. Only 180 km and now behind schedule. Time to get out of the Sahara and speed up again.
Day 37 I wake up before my alarm since a sandstorm hits the restaurant which is just a shed. Sand gets absolutely everywhere. After the sandstorm, it starts to rain. Just a few minutes but the locals are all happily running around, its a big gift for them. At sunrise, I set off into the headwind. Quickly I realize that the landscape is changing. There are a few trees and bushes around and then the first farms. I am getting near to the end of the Sahara. I feel better today but still weak due to the lack of food in the past days. Lost a few kgs and my jersey is already moving in the wind. In the evening I get into the capital Khartoum. There have been barely any cars so far in Sudan and now arrive in chaos. It takes me 90 minutes into town until I find a decent hotel with an Indian restaurant where I eat three plates. I am out of the desert now and will speed up again.
Day 38 I cycle out of Khartoum at sunrise. It's nice to see the busy streets after so much time in the desert. I feel very strong again after the food in Khartoum. The road goes along the Blue Nile through farmland with fruits, drinks, and restaurants next to the road. It's also much cooler than the days before. I just stop for a quick lunch and otherwise ride all day. After 275 km I find a village and look for a hotel. Its 4 km oft the main road but on a terrible dirt road. When I get into the hotel there is only one room with around 50 occupied beds. Luckily there is a second hotel but the guy with the key is gone. Half an hour later I get into my room. Better than many of my last nights but no water.
Day 39 The way out of the village turns out to be challenging. The road is deep mud and I have to push. It takes me one hour for 4 km until I take up speed. The landscape is now changing with small hills and villages of goat herders that live in small round huts. In the afternoon I turn onto a smaller road towards the Ethiopian border. The road is in terrible condition and I Zick zack between the potholes. It slows me down and I reach Dhoka only at night. Unfortunately, my information that there is a hotel was wrong and I sleep inside a Restaurant. Its hot and the locals are talking that I barely sleep.
Day 40 I set off at sunrise. The road becomes even worse and I ride with 18 km. I reach the border at noon and have a long bureaucratic process ahead of me. After almost three hours I am across and immediately in a different world. There are people everywhere and the kids are shooting after me. Everyone is friendly but after 20 km a group of children throw their Flip Flops at me and is definitely hostile. I have been warned that every cyclist I know hated Ethiopia due to rock-throwing children and youngsters who try to pull you off the bike. We will see the next days. After only 120 km I stop at a hotel. I still have an hour of sunlight but I am now entering an area that currently has violent conflicts. Better not to risk getting into the dark and instead start early.
Day 41 I wake up with food poisoning, feeling miserable. When I get on the bike I notice that my crank is loosening. One of the bearings got destroyed and I need to change the bottom bracket. Luckily, I carry a spare and find a car mechanic to help. The kids there don't really know how to do it but they have basic tools and I instruct them. I got a bit worried when they hammer on it but it works. At 9 am I am finally on the bike heading up the first climb. There are military, police and private military everywhere, so I am happy I didn't ride at night. I climb almost the entire day until 2.200 meters. In the evening I feel a bit better but still sick and am happy when I finally find a hotel.
Day 42 Feeling a bit better, I head off at sunrise. The road goes constantly up and down through the beautiful mountain landscape. Now there are children everywhere and they all run after me shooting aggressively for money. Some throw rocks at me and others try to hit me with sticks or block my way. They are fast runners too, making an escape on the climbs difficult. I had been warned about this but didn't imagine it to be so bad. In the afternoon a group of children throws big rocks from above the road at me. They miss but those rocks definitively bring you to hospital. It is strange that the adults are very nice and only children and a few youngsters are aggressive. I manage to get through the day without any major injuries and find a hotel at sunset. Other travelers told me that this only stops when I reach Kenya, so not looking forward to the next few days.
Day 43 I wake up feeling very ill again but get on the bike at sunrise. I immediately start a long climb up to 2.600 meters. People are now very nice and simply greet me including the children. I feel completely out of energy and climb very slow. It's so hard to find any food to eat on the bike that I am in a calorie deficit since Egypt. The climbing continues in the afternoon but now also with constant attacks and thrown rocks by the children. When I reach a small town Felege Birhan there are children coming from all sides screaming for money. I need to stop to buy water but the shop owner asks for five times its value while the first kids are already trying to open my bags. I leave quickly and stop 100 meters further with the same result. I had enough and leave the village thirsty. I ride into the dark and almost collide with a donkey that's crossing the road. Luckily, I find the hotel soon and they even have Spaghetti on the menu.
Day 44 King stage. I am finally over the food poisoning and feel strong again. After 20 flat kilometers the road descents for 22 km into the Blue Nile gorge. At the bottom, there are monkeys playing around and a spectacular view of the canyon. Of course, the road equally climbs up on the other side at one of Africas toughest climbs. The pavement is horrible and the ascent steep but the views of the canyon spectacular. After 2 hours I reach the top at 2.700 meters and stop for Spaghetti. In the afternoon the road goes constantly up and down through a beautiful high plateau. People are super friendly and wave at me with only two occasions of thrown stones. Exactly with the last daylight, I enter a village and find a cheap hotel for the night. 3 Euro but no running water.
Day 45 I leave at sunrise and ride along a high plateau in the morning mist. Suddenly a big stone comes thrown from behind a fence. I avoid it in the last second but almost crash. After that people are friendly all day. At noon I descent into Ethiopia's capital Addis Abbaba and cross the city in an endless traffic jam. On the other side, the road is completely broken for almost 100 km and has 30 km of road works. Very slow going and I am happy my bike survives. In the evening the landscape changes. I have been riding constantly in the mountains and now a big Savanah landscape opens. Faster days ahead.
Day 46 I set off at sunrise and reach after one hour Zigay. There are demonstrations everywhere and no one can explain why. I make my way through but on the outskirts of the city, the road is blocked by car tyres and stones. There is smoke and a bit mob of a few hundred people come running towards me. I turn around a retreat to the next hotel. The whole day I can't leave the hotel. Everything in the city has shut down. There are road barricades and mobs with sticks and stones are running through the street. Apparently a political activist from the region has been detained by the police which caused demonstrations in the entire region. Others say that he was not detained but simply said so to cause violence. At night the action is still ongoing and I am happy to be in the hotel behind closed gates. The mob has turned violent and eager to destroy things while the army from Addis Abbaba has arrived trying to resolve the situation. There is no alternative route for me and I have 400 km more in this region. No idea what tomorrow brings and if I can cycle.
Day 47 When I wake up it looks like things have calmed down and also the hotel owner says I can go. After 50 km I reach Shashamane and the entire city is blocked. Burning truck tyres, barriers made of rocks and trees, heavy military presence and mobs running around with sticks. All shops and restaurants are closed and I struggle to find a safe place. In the center a mob gets aggressive and their attention quickly shifts towards me. Luckily there are some locals that form a circle around me and bring me to a gated restaurant which quickly lets me in. After an hour there is an opportunity to leave and I quickly ride out. 30 easy km later I hit a 70 km gravel section due to road construction. Children constantly throw stones at me and insult me. They all shout „China“ or „Ali Baba“, it's obvious who is the economic powerhouse in the region. After 200 km I find a hotel just when it gets dark. Very happy with that but again missing my daily target. Looking forward to Kenya and easier conditions.
Day 48 I get off before sunrise and immediately hit a very bad gravel road. I climb for almost 50 km, mostly in road construction going very slow. The landscape is changing again and I enter rainforest and big banana plantations. In the afternoon the road turns into the smooth tarmac and goes constantly up and down in rolling hills. There are much fewer people now and they are all super friendly. I push into the dark until I find a small and crappy hotel. Now I am in reach to cross into Kenya tomorrow.
Day 49 When I set off I can't find food anywhere. After an hour I get to a crossing where I get bread and some tea for a late breakfast. I am now in the sparsely populated south of Ethiopia with big distances to the next town. There are heavy military and private people with machine guns everywhere. The border region and city Moyale has had violent tribal conflicts for years. However, everyone is super friendly and it feels safe. I make good progress in the morning until the road turns east into a strong headwind. I reach Moyale at sunset and want to head across to the Kenyan part of the City. I charge my plan since several locals warn me that there was a gunfight on the Kenyan side and decide to cross in the morning.
Day 50 That basically sums up my day. A bit of delay at the border as the immigration officer wanted to finish his breakfast first but then I went onto the smooth Kenyan high-speed tarmac. 248 km in a strong crosswind and happy to be in Kenya. I finished in the dark after several locals told me its safe. The noises of Africa were exciting until I got to a police checkpoint and they asked me if I carry a gun to protect myself. Apparently there were some hyenas and elephants around. Well, the noises of Africa and the eyes in the dark somehow seemed different afterward.