Sunday, 16 May 2010


This is it, this will be my last and final posting on this blog, so let me first thank each one of you who have read and followed my African ride. Thank you for the many messages of support and encouragement. I can now tell you that they were times when I seriously considered if it was worth going on riding, feeling sick, tired and at the worst pissing blood. But knowing that you guys were out there following me and cheering for me often gave me that extra courage one needs to ignore the pain signals your body sends you and to keep riding. keeping this blog updated was a challenge I enjoyed tremendously and I tried all along to do it as soon as I would reach camp, sometimes starting to write in my dirty cycling shorts in order to share it with you guys while it was "hot". They were many technical challenges too, especially in Sudan and Ethiopia where access to electricity was just as short as to clean water and Tanzania were I sometimes had to walk a few kilometers with my computer in order to find a weak cell phone signal on top of a hill in order to connect to Internet. Another challenge was to keep all these equipment running in the dust and the heat of the Sudanese desert, the humidity of the equator, the shocks of thousands of km of corrugated roads in the truck, the leaks in my tent in Botswana and so on... Eventually it was gonna be a smart virus that would give me the most trouble and destroy my computer....  Anyway as a token of consolation, my blog won the honorary price of "best TDA 2010 blog", a nice confirmation that our efforts to keep this blog going despite the many challenges have been appreciated.

I have done it, I have made it EFI to Cape Town, 12 000 km on my bicycle without ever getting on the truck or missing a single inch. Out of the 60 who started in Cairo,12 of us have achieved this. It is something, I am particularly really proud of, especially given the fact that I am the oldest EFI of the group and given all the physical troubles I went through, it makes this performance even more enjoyable afterwards. I am also the first French citizen ever to join the EFI club since the creation of the Tour D Afrique 8 years ago.

I am not going to bore you with long and  philosophical conclusions about this tour, it is impossible anyway to wrap it up in just a few words, but here are a few impressions I would like to share with you.

Tour d Afrique makes you look older but feel younger, it is also very stressful. It is like a 4 months long marathon. You need a holiday after this and a lazy one. Jumping back into a "normal" life is my next challenge. I started immediately yesterday afternoon by throwing away the one and only set of clothes I have been wearing since January and dressed myself from toes to top at one of the waterfront shops.  I also went for a hair cut and shaved. The images of all the places we went through are now starting to roll in my mind and for the first time this morning I started talking about this race using past verbs.

Africa is an amazing continent, it is poor, disorganised, corrupted, but yet so friendly, so full of delicious surprises and again as I have stressed so often in this blog, people have very little but they still share it. Africa loves singing, Africa loves dancing, Africa lives on the hope of better days and it often gives you the impression that it accepts its faith a bit too easily, "God willing" as you hear so often. Riding across Africa is not easy, there are still plenty of barriers against cyclists: a bicycle is still far too often seen as the method of transport for the poor and African drivers have very little respect for cyclists, making it difficult for us. I had to jump off the road at numerous occasions to save my life. The real danger in Africa is not the last few free roaming lions or poisonous snakes as many still believe, but simply bad drivers.

I was forced to witness the rapid expansion of China in the continent, building roads and infrastructures in most places we passed. I was also surprised by the strong influence of South Africa, especially south of the Equator. South African companies are opening retail outlets all over. I am more optimistic about that one than about the Chinese presence...

Africa did not disappoint me, it scared me, it made me laugh, it gave me joy, it made me dream, it also taught me new things about life and even about myself.

To conclude, here are a few logistical numbers,
Number of kilometers ridden on my bike 12 035 (including extra kilometers when getting lost)

Number of punctures: 10 (from which 6 took place the same day in Tanzania)

Total budget for this trip: about 15 000 euro

Total of bribes paid: 1 (5 dollars to a chef in Malawi to skip the one hour queue at a restaurant and get my T-bone within 5 minutes, it is amazing what an hungry stomach can make you do...)

Weight lost: 10 kg (out of 72) at the worst in Ethiopia. I have now regained most of it

Number of Cokes (and Pepsi) drunk. estimated 250 to 300

Most water drunk during one ride: 12 liters (worst day in Sudan)

Fall of my bicycle: only once in Dinder park Sudan, not bad for such a long trip.

Stolen things: 0 yes, nothing was stolen from me during this trip!

Toughest country: Ethiopia
Most exotic country: Ethiopia
Best T-bone: Namibia (Felix Unite camp)
Most exotic food: Sudan and Ethiopia
Highest temperature during a ride: 45 degrees Celsius (Sudan)
Lowest temperature during a ride: 7 degrees Celsius (South Africa, Springbok)
Cheapest meal: Ethiopia (2 dollars including drinks)
Best fruit juices: Ethiopia
Friendliest people: Malawi

Biggest danger: Traffic riding into Nairobi

The question most asked to us: "Where are you go?" (Every Ethiopian kid)

Longest day: 207 km in Botswana, but longest saddle time was 10 hours in Ethiopia

Best money ever invested: 50 cents for a bucket of fresh water in Zambia to wash myself

Most beautiful part of the trip: Tanzania, between Arusha and Iringa, 700 km of pure beauty!

Worst day of the tour: a 130 km long stage in Ethiopia that took us to an altitude of 3100 meters and where I was sick as a dog with fever, stomach bug and bladder infection.

Highlights of the tour. An Ethiopian nurse giving me her lunch in Addis and seeing Table mountain appearing in the horizon had both water filling my eyes.

12 000 km on my bicycle and 120 days since I took a similar shot in front of the pyramids...

Finally, we are gonna get our lives back..

The locker 9 club tired but happy...

Last group photo with the beautiful Table mountain in the background

The male race winners from left to right, Stuart (1st) Tim (3rd) and Jethro (2nd)

The female race winners from left to right Juliana (2nd), Gisi (1st) and Jen (3rd)

Me passing the finish banner. I bought it for 2100 USD at the found raising auction dinner that evening, adding 21 bicycles to the 120 already donated. I reached a whooping total of 141 bikes, an all time record for the TDA charity...

The official arrival ceremony at the Waterfront included speeches, medals and flag carriers for each country represented. It felt like the Olympics...      

                               Me receiving my EFI medal from the deputy mayor of Cape Town

                         Hardy and myself in the VIP tent celebrating our hard earned EFI medals

      The members of the famous locker 9 brotherhood as they look in normal life at the gala dinner party.
      From left to right, Éric, me, David, Gabriele, Jos and Peter

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Gerald is finally in South Africa, they have had some heavy days with cold and windy weather on the west coast of South Africa...He is fine and only two days to go...His computer does not work any more so he told me this evening on the phone that tommorrow they will have 146km and the arrival day to Cape Town Waterfront about 80km and the last 30km they will ride together... So we all are getting exceited about Saturday...I will go and see him tomorrow at Yzerfontein where they will stay their last night... Thank you for everybody for all the lovely messages... Greetings from windy Cape Town...Jaana

Sunday, 9 May 2010


I can see it! From my chalet I can see South Africa, on the other side of the mighty Orange river….

This time we are now closing in big time to the end of this fabulous adventure… We finally finished the 1000 km dirt section between Windhoek and the Felix Unite camp nested in a magnificent spot along the Orange river on the Namibian side. The Orange river marks the border and we will have to wait another day to cross as we have our last rest day of the tour here at Felix Unite camp. A great place, serving delicious T-bones in the most scenic restaurant overlooking the Orange river gorge.
After spending 9 days crossing the Namibian desert, without any contacts to the world (even cell phones did not work in most places) it is nice to watch South African rugby on a flat screen TV while downing Gin and Tonics at the bar next to the pool… This really feels like a rest day. The vibe is kind of different today from previous rest days. I suppose each one of us realizes by now that this is the end of something you get to live only once in your life and last night as most of us were getting drunk at the bar, we all got very philosophical, talking about our lives and our future projects. There were a few exceptions though, like Rick who got philosophical by stripping and jumping into the pool…
Even the air feels different, it has a cool and slightly humid feel to it just like a European late summer morning while a gentle breeze adds to the melancholic vibe. TDA 2010 is now 6 days from its end and about to enter country number 10, South Africa. Only 800 km are separating us from Cape Town. Last night people were already making phone calls for return flights to their home countries and finalizing travel arrangements in Cape Town. An atmosphere of wrapping up things hangs around camp… Nobody is unhappy about that, as we are all either tired, exhausted or seriously missing families friends and simply home…
It feels a bit like a hangover of adrenaline has already kicked in. It is going to take a while to get back into a normal life again, but I am looking forward not to have to get on my saddle for a while. (and so is my bud). I am also looking forward not to have to live on one bag and having to pack and unpack it each day… The idea to have access to a choice of more than one T- shirt and onepair of trousers to wear is something even I, look forward to as well.
OK, let´s not get carried away here, I still have 800 km to ride to reach my goal, arrive in Cape Town EFI and have ridden “Every Fucking Inch” between Cairo and Cape Town. If nothing goes madly wrong 12 of us will have achieved this. There are no more major difficulties except head winds that can be ferocious in this part of the world. So we will ride in pelotons if that is the case.
Namibia has offered us some of the most fantastic rides of this tour. It has come exactly at the right time as well. The long solitary stretches of riding I have enjoyed here have given me plenty of time to reflect about this adventure, about myself, about life in general. It has been a relief to my soul after the busy sections like Ethiopia and Malawi to be able to spend hours alone without seeing a single human being without the disturbance of any sound. I feel relaxed and recharged after Namibia, despite the hard riding on the dirt. It is amazing how much being mentally relaxed can help your general physical performance. One of the many things this trip has taught me, it is the incredible interaction between your mental well being and your physical aptitude.
South Africa is my second home as I have lived here almost 10 years and I am looking forward to cross the border. The small isolated town of Springbok will be our first stop there. Having no more computer has made the updating of this blog a bit challenging, but I will try to keep you guys posted as we head south!

                                In the middle of the Namibian desert, I came across this farm plate
                                address which also happens to be my race number… 113…
                                Some of the riding here can feel a bit long with endless stretches
                               of straight dirt roads under intense heat and wind
                                  Namibia is full of surprises. In the middle of the desert, we found
                                  this amazing road house which served the best cheese cakes
                                  I have had in a long time. What a cool place!
                                               Inside the road house, a really cool deco as well

                                  The Fish River Canyon is the second biggest in the world after
                                  the Grand Canyon. It is 160 km long. What a site!
                                              You feel very small at the edge of the canyon…
                                On the road again for another monster day…. 176 km today, but
                                the target is exiting, tonight be will be at the South African border!
                                                          Gabriele is back in pink fashion
                           Namibian vegetation is so different from any other place we have crossed
                                   You feel very small when you ride alone on these beautiful but
                                    endless Namibian dirt roads
                                    We did a fair bit of climbing in this last mando day of the tour,
                                     but what a nice ride!
                               Marcel having yet another puncture, I told him that this could be his
                               last one of the tour, so I decided to document it…
                                                        The restaurant at Felix Unite
                                       The chalets at Felix Unite are facing the Orange river.
                                       On the other side….South Africa! But we will have to
                                       wait another day to get there as we will have a
                                       (well deserved) rest day in Felix Unite camp site

                                            For the ultimate time, we are changing our tires.
                                            The last 800 km are almost all on tarred, so we
                                            switch back to slicks… here, David, Laura and
                                            Gabriele at work

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I have seen more German tourists than Namibians over the past 5 riding days…. Namibia is so empty, it feels really strange riding hour after hour through such emptiness only crossing some flashy 4 x 4s with German tourists waiving frantically at us…

On a bicycle you really have time to appreciate how vast and how empty this country is. It is a great experience and I have to say, I am loving it. After super populated Ethiopia and Malawi, Namibia offers a brake to the soul and leaves you with a sensation of calm and peace.
Namibian beauty can be appreciated only if you have time to stop, put your bike down and sit on side of the dirt road. There is plenty of life here, insects, lizards, birds but also plenty of big game like Orix , Ostriches, Springboks etc, etc… when you stop for a few minutes and look at what is surrounding you, it feels like you have been reduced in size, even the perfect blue sky looks bigger… Oh, yeah… I forgot to mention that we have had good weather now for 3 days and the sun is back…
We have done big days riding 410 km on dirt in 3 days…. Hard but nice and nobody was complaining as the beauty of the landscapes we were passing matched the technical challenges of mastering sand pitches and rolling gravels…
One thing has changed though, since the return of clear skies, it has been freezing at nights. We are now back where we started. It is even colder than in the Sahara… We have to ride out of camp geared with warm cycling clothes and have to stop 2 hours later to strip them off as the temperature soars.
So, here we are with only 8 riding days left and exactly 1000 km to go, the great countdown has now started. In 2 days we will be at the South African border where we will enjoy the last rest day of this amazing adventure. To get there we are going to ride along the Fish River inside the famous Fish River canyon which is only second in size to the Grand Canyon… so guys, stay tuned as they say on CNN and expect some amazing shots to come!

                                                            David anxious to have his gears fixed
                                                        On board the small Cessna we hired

                                                The mountains take a different look from the air
                                                                   The famous dune 45
                                                                       Endless dunes
                                                                      The Atlantic Ocean
                                            From left to right, Jos, David, me, Gabrielle and Eric
                                        Riding on Namibian dirt roads is tough but so pleasant
                                                               Ruben, Jason and Paddy
                           We cover huge distances each day on these gravel roads (up to 173 km)
                                   It is freezing cold in the mornings here and riders are using warm
                       clothing for the first hours of the ride, some are quite exotic like this one from Dave…

                                 Tonight we sleep in the middle of nowhere again in a place called
                                  Seeheim, and this is it... Seeheim is just a few houses and a train
                                  station…. The big house is the Seeheim hotel

Monday, 3 May 2010


Have look, there is a nice article about the Tour d'Afrique on the Canadian news paper called Clobe & Mail...


Namibia is normally hot and dry at this time of the year, but for the

70 TDA riders who have battled cold headwinds and heavy rains since we
left Windhoek it has been a bit of a shock. Namibia is tougher than I
expected. We are doing the longest section on dirt of the tour with
almost 1000 km of uninterrupted gravel roads. Namibia is not flat
either, so when you mix, rain, sand and headwind on steep up hills,
the cycling gets pretty hard… To make things even more challenging,
the tour organization has planned very long sections here with riding
days up to 173 km long. Such distances on tarred are already painful,
but on dirt, they turn into something close to masochism….
But we have plenty to look forward, firstly this is some of the most
exotic and surreal cycling landscapes I have ever traversed, secondly,
Cape Town is now really close… As I am writing this, we have 11
riding days left and about 1500 km to go. (half on dirt)
Namibian landscapes are so unique and so different from what we have
seen over this long journey. Even if the cycling is tough, it is with
a sense of excitement that most of us are feeling as we get on our
bikes at the early hours of the morning. The morning light on these
colorful desert backgrounds is just magic. I have never seen so many
riders stopping for taking pictures, even the racers in front have now
understood how privileged we are to cross such places on a bicycle and
many of them were stopping for pictures yesterday.
The thunderstorms we went through over the past 3 days added some
dramatic dark blue colors to the sky making the whole landscape even
more dramatic. I must have spent more than 2 hours taking pictures
yesterday alone.
The clear skies have returned to compliment our rest day in Sesriem ,
a tiny place that reminds me of the “Bagdad café” movie. One petrol
station, one camping and a lodge in the middle of the desert. A
beautiful and calm little oasis lost between the red sand dunes and
the mountains. The visitors are mostly South African and German
tourists equipped to the teeth with flashy 4x4 vehicles. We don’t
really fit into that category of people and I find it hard to
communicate with these very pale and fat people. I have cycled over 10
000 km to get here and I simply cannot identify myself with a tourist
that has flown to Johannesburg and rented a 4 wheel drive car there. I
just feel that an entire world is separating me from these people.
They also seem a bit scared about this big loud group of cyclists and
only a few of them are actually making an effort to ask us some
questions about our trip.
Here is a first warning about things to come, in less than 2 weeks we
are all going back to our normal lives and some of it already scares
me a bit. How do you explain what we have just lived, how do you ever
look at overloaded supermarket shelves again without having a thought
at how we struggled to get hold of simple products like toilet paper
or toothpaste. How will it feel to see people eating twice what their
daily food requirement is when our obsession has been to match our own
calories deficit for the past 4 months? What do you respond to the
“How was it?” question????.....
On the other hand, I am really looking forward for not digging a hole
in the ground to have a crap and packing up my wet tent in the dark at
5 h00 am. I only have to pack my stupid locker 11 more times and that
is definitely something to look forward to. This locker queuing and
packing is one of the most irritating part of this trip. I hate it and
so does every rider…
My computer has been infected with a virus. This has resulted in a lot
of complications for me, especially for keeping this blog running. I
have helped so many people with Internet connection, lending my
computer. Unfortunately, somebody has managed to infect it with a USB
stick. Luckily, just about each TDA rider started the tour with one
working laptop. By now, many have been either stolen or have broken
down due to the horrific conditions we have gone through, from heat,
sand and dust to humidity and plenty of physical abuse especially when
the trucks went over corrugated roads for hundreds and hundreds of
km's. David’s computer has survived every above mentioned threat so
far, and that’s where from I am now doing this update.
The next 5 days are seriously hard and all efforts are going to be
needed to remain EFI. Namibia is an easy place to lose EFI. The gravel
roads are in good condition, so you tend to ride relatively fast, but
there are many things to watch for. Most dips have thick soft sand in
which it is easy to make a mistake and fall. One bad wipe is enough to
hurt yourself and it is therefore important to remain focused until
the end. On such long days, with the fatigue adding to the routine you
tend to make more mistakes as you are nearing the end of your riding
I am not sure about when I will be doing the next posting, but most
likely from the South African border where we will be enjoying the
last rest day of this tour on May 9.


                               David and I with a dramatic sky at the back. We are heading for it...
                                                          Who said Namibia was flat?