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Tour d’Afrique – Stage One Photo and Story

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FROM TOUR d’AFRIQUE: They’ve come face to face with the great pyramids and pedaled their way to the Red Sea. Sixty-one brave individuals have begun the first stage of their quest to travel Africa from top to bottom on a bicycle.

Tour d’Afrique is the world’s longest bicycle event, attracting a record number of entrants for 2010, including seven South Africans currently on tour. Riders from all over the world are testing their limits in this annual four-month, 12-thousand kilometer race and expedition from Cairo to Cape Town.

Now 170 kilometres from Hurghata, Egypt, the riders will pedal south to Safaga before moving west to Luxor and on to Sudan. Each day brings new challenges as cyclists adjust to the toil of spending five to eight hours a day on the seat of a bicycle. So far, fatigue, fierce headwinds and unexpected rains have given riders a taste of just a few of the many obstacles they’ll have to overcome to be successful in their mission. “I don’t think anybody could train hard enough for this, says South African rider Michelle Sephton. “The elements have been unpredictable. Expect the unexpected sums it up beautifully. Sephton and partner Andre Van Eeden are riding to raise funds for Missing Children South Africa. “We’re both so excited to be here,” says Van Eeden. “Today was a very scenic route for riding in the desert. The headwinds were nearly impossible, but we still managed to find a place for a beautiful cup of coffee overlooking the Red Sea along the route.”

On their journey through ten African countries (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa), the riders travel past ancient temples, through game reserves teeming with wildlife, across deserts and the foothills of legendary Mount Kilimanjaro, alongside the rugged and biblical landscape of Ethiopia’s Simian Mountains and through Botswana and Namibia’s most magnificent wilderness areas. The journey takes approximately 120 days of which 96 are cycling days, averaging 125 km each day.

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