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Desert Margins

Stage 17: Desert Hut to Abu Dolooa

Started under clear skies just as the sun starts to appear over the horizon; possibly the coldest start since leaving Egypt. Our luck holds re the northerly tailwinds; what a relief as I really didn’t feel like burning out before we get to the mountains in only a few days time. About 90 minutes into the day’s ride, the sun is high enough to really warm us; it’s as if someone threw a switch, and the heat floods into my body.

At about that same time, I start to notice changes in the desert; occasional grasses appear, as do some goats. And I can see scattered acacia trees dotting the plain, steadily increasing in number as the day progresses. We must be nearing the southern limits of the Nubian Desert.

I’m surprised to see a collection of rondavels this far north; very common in the southern half of Africa, these are the first I’ve seen on this trip.

And also, several groups of camels; feral or wild, who knows, but they’re roaming freely, un-hobbled.

The day steadily warms but the tailwinds make it easy cycling through the morning; traffic is moderately low, at least until the lunch stop. True to established pattern, crosswinds kick up after that break, as does the traffic, but overall it ends up being a relatively fast run and I make camp at Abu Dolooa about 1:00 pm.

Abu Dolooa is not much to speak of; essentially a police check point / toll point with truck stop cafes on either side of the road. Also a mosque and two soccer pitches, and a scattering of huts. I believe we’re camping here because the police insist upon keeping an eye on us. It’ll be an ‘earplug night’ given the trucks rolling in/out only a few hundred metres away.

We wander over to the café strip in the afternoon to check out the action. Not much. A series of cubicle shops, most seemingly selling the same packaged goods. We end up having tea and telling stories at one of more comfortable looking places for an hour or so.

Back to camp, organize tent, riders meeting, dinner, washing up... and that’s another day done.

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