January 26 – (Luxor, Egypt.) The first 700km of the tour have been more difficult than the riders had anticipated. Facing punishing headwinds, a rare desert thundershower and sleepless nights the riders have arrived in Luxor, Egypt for their first rest day.
All riders were able to maintain their Every Fabulous Inch (EFI) status through the first stage. The second stage took the riders 168km away from Cairo along the Red Sea. The winds zapped the rider’s strength all afternoon and many riders were forced onto the trucks as the thunderstorm rolled into camp just before dinner. 12 riders lost their EFI status that evening. Canadian rider Stephanie Sleen had to be pulled off the road just 3 km from camp. “In my mind I’m still EFI, EFI minus 3 km, I’ll ride an extra 3km around Cape Town if I have to” says Sleen. Peter Pizer from South Africa also lost his EFI status that night. In the spirit of African commerce Pizer attempted to negotiate with tour leaders for his EFI status to be restored “I was hoping if I could win a section then I could convince them to reinstate my EFI status.” Pizer is riding to raise fund for The Pizer Cancer Foundation.
Stage 4 provided the riders with some needed rest. The 100km ride was blessed with a tailwind, allowing the riders the opportunity to enjoy the splendour of the seaside resort town of Safaga. Most riders had arrived at the beach camp by the early afternoon. Giving them the opportunity to check in with home, enjoy fish and chips and sit in the cabana sipping on a well deserved beer. South African rider Jethro De Decker’s favourite moment of the tour so far was arriving in Safaga “Arriving early in the day, resting, chilling out and having a beer. We have to enjoy it because we don`t know when it will happen again” says De Decker.
After Stage 5 punished the riders with more headwind, Stage 6 and its shorter ride through the villages close to Luxor granted the riders an earlier start to their rest day. Many riders are taking advantage of the break from the bike seat with trips to the market, Valley of the Kings and an Egyptian feast complete with belly dancers.
39 riders are still holding onto their EFI status 767 km into the 11,707km ride. Riders are soaking up every moment of tranquility in Luxor before getting back onto the bike seat and heading into Sudan.
By Kelsey Wiens