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19/02/04, stage 15, Dongola to Dead Camel Camp

We rode again today! To dead camel camp, whicb sounds very ominous. However, during the ride it became clear why the camp has the name it has: for some reason there were just dead camels everywhere. On some other blog I read that caravans of camels pas through here on their way to market, and that many of them just die. The Sudanese don’t dispose of them, they just leave them where they died, leaving a trail of dead camels.

Besides the dead camels the ride was pretty boring today. More desert and a 143k long busy flat road with tail and cross winds. I got to lunch at 80k at around 930 and took my time to enjoy my burgerless burgers. However, there were falafals at lunch, so today the burgerless burger came even closer to being a real burger then on the other days. 
After lunch I set off and stopped again at a cokestop at 100k. I was there with some others and Richard let some local Sudanese ride his bike, which was fun to see. At some point the others left while Vikas, Fiona and Paul just arrived. I stayed to have cokes with them as well and after that I rode with them.
At 111k there was suposed to be a gas station with cokes and we saw one bicycle at the gas station. I went to check it out while Vikas, Fiona and Paul waited for me. It turned out that it was Nick. There were no cokes, but he was taking a nap in the shade. After he confirmed all was oke I followed Vik, Fi and Paul again, but 500 meter after the gas station there were some shops. The local Sudanese waved and cheered enthusiastically, but Vik, Fi and Paul just kept going. I hesitated for a bit but then decided to stop and have a tea. 
As always the local Sudanese were very happy to have me. I figured there must have been still some 18 riders behind me, so I was not in a rush to get going again. Nick inspired me to take it slow and there was no need at all to get to camp early. I figured that as I was first out of camp this morning (together with Tim and Ashley) I might as well be last to get back to camp as well. So that became my new objective for the day. First out last in.
I ended up spending some four hours at the cokestop. Most of the time I was accompanied by other riders that came and went away again, and at the moments that there were no other riders I talked with the local Sudanese and smoked the waterpipe with them. Later in the afternoon I was joined at the cokestop by a last bunch of riders, accompanied by staff member Steph who was the sweep rider for the afternoon. 
After the last bunch finished their drinks and were ready to go again, I joined them for the last 30k stretch. After 15k, Lucy requested a stop because she wasn’t coping with the heat very well (some 36-38 celcius). The other two riders kept going but my personal directive for the day was clear: I wanted to be last back to camp. 
I stopped with Steph and Lucy. She drank some water and rested a bit and then we set off again. For the last 15k I let her draft behind me. Unfortunately we turned east into the wind and the road became quite bad. We started out on a 20k/h speed but against the end we dropped to some 12k/h. At the end of the ride she was clearly done and she  was very happy to see camp. Cycling in these temperatures is not easy, even for the stronger riders. After arriving, Lucy got of her bike but had to sit down on the ground directly afterwards. Steph attended to her and I got ahead to get Jen the medic. They gave her water and soup and cooled her down and 15 minutes later she was up and running again, attending the rider meeting.
I really tried, but unfortunately I was not last into camp today 😦 None of that matters though. Lucy welcomed by the group with applause and everyone appreciated her efforts! They had even already put up her tent and they helped me put up mine!
So this is what our group is like! I’m glad that I got to know all these people! I couldn’t wish for a better group to continue this adventure with…

Passing through some gate in the morning

There was a lot of sand today…

Apparantly camels don’t like sand…

It makes them die… like collectively…

Someone from Sudan on Richard’s bike…

And more sand…

Great sunset over dead camel camp though…

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