After spending a month in Dahab hostel in downtown Cairo, I was beginning to get bored. I had already hurled stones at the police and experienced the full power of tear gas but I needed something more. I needed a challenge.
All of a sudden, I recalled a German girl who I met on the ferry from Sicily to Tunisia. She told me how she had rode her bike all the way down to Sicily from Munich. And that’s when it hit me. I should buy a bike and ride it down to Sudan.
Though I never have been much of a biker, I figured, “how hard could it be?” The distance from Cairo to Aswan was only 700 kilometres and that distance looked so miniscule on google maps.
After nearly being shot by a crazy man with a home made gun for thinking I was Israeli, I finally found my bike. It was a bright orange, 300$ Spanish made, Orbea mountain bike, rigged up with a rack and everything.
I was so stoked to have a bike, that I rode it everyday. I pushed myself to the limit. I would peddle full speed the wrong way down one way highways. I explored Cairo from garbage city to the protests at Tahrir Square. Although I got hit by a taxi and later by a pedestrian, they were only minor accidents and could not dissuade me from my mission. That being, to ride to south, following the Nile, across ancient pyramids, and to Sudan.
One morning at around 10 o’clock, I rather randomly decided I would go. Though I hadn’t even had breakfast, I was too excited to feel hungry. I took off at top speed through the morning rush hour. After only 1 hour of hard peddling, I grew fatigued and took a rest along the Nile.
As the day drew on, my legs seriously began to burn. I couldn’t stop though. I had set Beni Suef, a town around 100 miles away, as my first check point and I had to get there.
After cycling nearly all night on a poorly lit and partially sand covered highway, I made it to within 30 kilometres of Beni Suef. It was 5am, I was cold, hungry, and my legs felt like death. Though I had not trained but just a week, I was disappointed in my lack of stamina and will power. I finally gave in to the pain and hitched a ride on a truck rickshaw. As I was trying to fit my bike in the back, some local kids managed to smear poo on me and my bike. I was too tired to care.
Long story short, I realized I wasn’t cut out for the whole cycling the world business. I jumped on a train to Luxor, cycled a bit more towards Aswan, and then hoped on the train again. When I arrived in Aswan, I couldn’t get the visa for Sudan. So, I got right back on the train and headed back to Cairo.
Although I didn’t make it all the way, it was a great experience. I became well acquainted with the highways of rural Egypt. I got to experience what it’s like to be covered with local dung at 5 am. I got to hit the dunes at the Valley of the Kings and ride through elephantine island in Aswan.
Was the 300$ price tag of the bike and all the extra train fees worth it? Definitely.
Would I do it again? I don’t think so.