Stage 1: Cairo to Ain Sokhna
Alarms finally went off at 5:00 and we could rise if not shine. Much activity about the hotel with tourists and cyclists mixing it up about the breakfast buffet. Bags then loaded onto truck, cyclists milling about hotel entrance, waiting for the Go ... finally, a nod from senior policeman and with sirens and flashing lights, we swung out onto main road, all normal crazy Cairo traffic having being halted. Perfect timing with the sun just appearing.
Only a short distance to the Pyramids but all rather exhilarating. Lots of greetings from the sidewalk, photos by all and sundry, including group shot, before heading back down the hill to Sphinx for more photos before finally loading bikes onto a truck, and ourselves onto a large coach for the trip out of town some 70 kilometres to relative safety.
When all said and done, the day was effectively cut in half. Fine with me.
Once we’d unloaded both coach and bicycle truck, and had a quick lunch, the first 50 kilometres to the southeast was along a 10-lane divided highway, with a very wide shoulder / cyclists lane. Abundant police escort the whole way! We also had the benefit of a decent tailwind, so really good time. Only one flat (by Jim) in the group so far as I could tell. However, after that first 50 km, we swung more SSE and encountered definite head- and crosswinds, with the multilane highway now deteriorating to a narrow 2-lane, but at least we were running right along the Red Sea. Even a squadron of military Apache(?) helicopters gave us a low-level fly-by and no doubt tipped their rotors in honour of our procession. Top-off highlight to the day’s run were the police blocking all traffic on the highway so we could make the left-hand turn into the Dome Marina Hotel, our beachside digs for the night. Excellent dinner, too.