19/02/05, stage 16, Dead Camel Camp to Desert Camp

Today was a hard day. For everybody…

After having quite a lazy day yesterday I started today quite easy as well. I woke up at 530 and only found the courage to get up and pack my stuff at 545. After that I was last in line for breakfast and one of the last to leave camp. 
Once we set off it became immediately clear that we had a strong cross wind. As we were following the Nile east I had already suspected that we would set out with a cross wind or even a head wind. I was quite sure however that once we would leave the Nile and head south again that the wind would start to push us again. So I took it easy and when I saw Ingela and Jacky having coffee on the side of the road I stopped as well. This was after 17k.
After the coffee I set off again and battled the headwind by myself for the next 35k. I stopped a few times to take pictures and to look around. I was quite relieved to see the road bend southwards, but as the road turned south it became clear that the cross wind turned into a fierce headwind. That bummed me out quite a bit because I still had about 93k to go!
After the bend in the road there was a cokestop and I saw a number of riders sitting there. I stopped, but because they were about to take off again I just loaded in some water and a coke and got on my bike again so I could ride with them to battle the winds. But even the train didn’t do more than 15k an hour because wind came at us in an angle and we couldn’t ride in a fan shape due to the traffic. Because I was faster on my own I decided to leave the train and continue by myself. 
Untill then the heat hadn’t bottered me too much yet, but a few minutes after leaving the train I got off the bike to remove my arm coolers and my buff. I was overtaken by the train. They signaled “all okay?” and I signalled “all okay!” Then came the light headedness and I threw up all the water and coke I had been drinking at the coke stop. I sat on the ground a bit to battle the light headedness. Fritz and Wolfgang passed. “All okay?” and I replied “All okay!”. Then Lucy passed “Alle okay?” and I signalled thumbs up “All okay!” After that I got back on the bike but the legs were just empty. I just wanted to go to sleep 🙂
After 5k I overtook lucy who was taking a drink of water along the road and I stopped next to her. I didn’t want to get of my bike. Lucy asked “all okay?” And i replied “all okay” but I was not really. She made me sit down. Some locals in a car stopped. “All okay?” “All okay!” They threw water on me to cool me down a bit. Lucy made sure that they would stop at the lunch stop so that the staff could come and pick me up. 
I got back on the bike and rode another 5k. As soon as the lunch truck arrived I got off. Steve the lunch truck driver poored some more water over me. While he strapped my bike to the roof of the landrover I just sat in the shade, trying to keep the rest of my watter down. Then we drove to the back of the group to find Jen the medic who was riding sweep, and she threw some more water over me to keep me cool. After that we drove to lunch, only to find out that 10 others had decided to call it quits for the day as well. Others continued after lunch, only to return to the lunchspot to get a ride to camp. Winds and temperature were just gruelling. 
I had a hard time keeping my liquids down and in the truck my muscles just completely cramped up. At some point we stopped at a water well where I was hosed down completely. I was soaked, but it was so nice. On the way to camp we picked up a few more riders. Eventually we reached camp at around 1600. Only 6 riders had made it in by then. I just collapsed in a chair, having done only 65k. I just can’t imagine anyone doing the full 143k. At the end of the day there were only some 15 riders (of 37) who completed the stage. 
I found some people willing to help me put my tent up. Then I attended the rider meeting and after that I went straight to bed. After diner Jen checked on me, followed by Vikash (who completed the ride, well done!) and Tallis to make sure I was alright! It’s just amazing how friendly and helpfull people were to me. I hate quiting and I hate asking for help, but apparantly sometimes both ar needed. And at somepoint you don’t get to decide by yourself anymore. You just have to accept it…
I learned from another rider that temperatures hit 37 degrees at 1000am and 42 degrees at noon. I stopped somewhere in between. According to Jen i was hit by a bit of a heatstroke. One of the riders that finished got off way worse than me though… 
I was able to sleep most of it off last night. However the nausea kept me from eating anything after breakfast yesterday, so I won’t be riding today. I’m glad that I got off the bike after the body said stop 🙂 I know I don’t do well in the heat. Quited on the CPC once due to the heat, and on the Rotterdam Marathon the heat killed my time 🙂 Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to ride my bike through the desert 🙂 One of the older riders of our group wore an appropriate t-shirt though, saying: if it isn’t miserable it isn’t memorable 🙂

Just sand, sun and wind 🙂

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