Friday: Woke up early, as breakfast was at 5am, and we had to have our Daily Bags loaded by 6am; then waited to get onto to the bus to the Pyramids at Giza.
Due to the current security situation in Egypt, three major changes were made to the days festivities:
- No cycling to the Pyramids from the Hotel, so we had to load our bikes onto a truck, and we then made our way there by bus.
- Not allowed to start cycling from the Pyramids, had to be transported out of Cairo into the rural area for approximately 70 km, before we could start.
- No camping in the desert, we had to stay over in a Hotel (no complaints about this were heard from the riders).
|Myself & Judith at the start, in front of Pyramids at Giza.|
|Great spread of food at the start's 'Bon Voyage feast'.|
|Once this was completed, we rode down to the Sphinx on our bikes, had the necessary photo shoot of the Sphinx, this was followed by some interaction by the riders with social media, to ensure all and sundry were aware of the great moment.|
|Social Media posting before departing on the grand adventure.|
|Group photos at the start - all smiles.|
Lastly, we loaded our bikes onto the waiting truck and we boarded the bus for our trip out of Cairo. At a suitable site, we disembarked, collected our bikes and proceeded to get the proverbial show on the road.
Unfortunately, due the bus rides from Hotel to Pyramids and Pyramids to suitable start position and associated loading and unloading of bikes, we only started the ride at 10.15am. With 136 km to go, this put a lot of pressure on Judith and I as we are not really built for speed (have plenty of stamina but not so much speed).
To further increase the odds against us, we started the ride into a strong headwind which persisted for the rest of the day.
At the 70km mark we arrived at the Lunch Truck, and discovered that we were the last riders in for lunch. We soon realized that at our current pace we were not going to reach the finish before sunset. Judith then decided to stop at 70km and catch the truck to the finish. This enabled me to join up with Bridget, who allowed me to draught behind her for the next 66 km to the finish.
We finished the second half with just minutes to spare before sunset turned to darkness.
Thanks go out to Bridget, who ensured I finished at an average speed of 20km/hr for the 136km ride. And a huge thanks to Judith who gave up her EFI status to make sure that I finished the Stage. Judith was one of a few riders who had to give-up their EFI status. With the late start and nasty headwind, Stage 1 seemed to be a 'baptism by fire' for many of us.
Judith was waiting for me at the Hotel, having already booked us in and had organised our bags to the room. We then had a well appreciated dinner (a very tasty Spaghetti Bolognese, and as much as you could eat).
It was early to bed, with the First Stage finally behind us.