I’m not sure how I missed this one, but one of my favorite annual events got underway last week when the 2011 Tour d’Afrique launched from Cairo, Egypt. For those who aren’t familiar with the Tour, it is a four month long bicycle ride that runs the length of Africa, north to south, ending in Cape Town, South Africa. it is also both an adventure travel opportunity and a race as well.
Over the course of the four months, the participants in the Tour d’Afrique spend 95 days riding with 23 rest days built into the schedule as well. There are also two days of travel by ferry, bringing the total time on the road to about 120 days. During that period, the riders pass through ten different countries, and glide past some of the most amazing settings on the continent, including the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Masai Steppe, Kilimanjaro, Victoria Falls, and so much more.
The Tour d’Afrique seems, to me, like the the ultimate way to explore Africa. On the back of a bike you are exposed to so much of the culture and landscapes of the place, and it seems like it would really give you the opportunity to take in the setting at a perfect pace. Most of us can’t escape our work for four months however, so the Tour can also be broken down into smaller segments, 18 days in length, that allow for riders to join the event for preset sections of the route that offers smaller doses of the over all adventure. If you’re interested in doing that, you can see the various stages by clicking here.
As I mentioned, the Tour d’Afrique is a race as well as a cycling tour of the continent. There are some riders in the event who ride for the competition as well, dashing for the finish line each day to pick up precious seconds on their competitors. While most of the riders are content to enjoy one of the most unique ways to see Africa, a few form a peloton of shorts that work towards becoming the fastest riders to reach Cape Town. But on an epic ride like this, I say “Why rush?”
All told, the entire ride covers approximately 11,700 km (7270 miles). The riders average about 123km (77 miles) per day, with some days being long and others shorter depending on how demanding the terrain is. Either way, it is one big adventure and remains on my life list of things to do. Maybe in 2012!
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