Stage 18: Abu Dolooa to Khartoum
The city lights of Khartoum had been readily visible through the night on the southeastern horizon, a real change from our typical nights since leaving Cairo. They were still visible as 5:00 rolled around and time to strike the tent yet again, and roll everything up into the dusty bag, grabbing that initial coffee to help alleviate the desert’s morning chill.
Today would be a short run of ~67 kilometres to the lunch spot and starting point of the convoy of bikes, TDA vehicle and Police escort for the final 19-20 kms into town. Some crosswinds at first as we were rolling mostly east, but settled into more tailwinds as we swung southeast toward Khartoum. Tarmac generally good; traffic, moderate to start, steadily increased to become unpleasant in the last hour or so. Cities not the favourite place of this cyclist.
Passed increasing signs of agribusinesses, but seemingly not yet completely realized or developed? Perhaps the road too far from the presumably irrigated fields. My attention primarily on the road, the yellow line, narrow if any shoulder and the two-way traffic; didn’t stop for photos after the first hour, and made it safely to the lunch spot without any real incident.
We waited only a short time for all the riders o rendezvous, threw down some ‘lunch’ and we were off again, now in convoy. Certainly the longest cycling convoy in my experience, and while one really had to focus on the situation at hand, it was great fun to be riding through the cacophony of sounds: people, horns honking, kids yelling, going down avenues into on-coming lane, police clearing that and holding the intersections, through the dusty outskirts of Khartoum, then giving way to the much more citified-centre. Some stoppage by the Military Guard as we started to go past the Presidential Palace, but that quickly sorted out and we kept on, arriving after about an hour at the Blue Nile Sailing Club, our camping spot on the Nile for the next two nights. There we were met and formally welcomed by the Minister of Tourism and the Chief of Tourism Police, and of course, politicians being politicians, camera crew from the Sudanese Press. So quite the Welcome.
As this would be the end of the ride for Enrique, and Francis’ birthday, the riders all met again for dinner at Assaha, a Lebanese restaurant; very very good, and even better to include two new riders, Alice from the UK and Vincent from the USA, both whom will be aiming for Cape Town. A great evening.
Rest day tomorrow!