(36) Anyone for desert?
Friday 7th December
We got up around 8, most of our things were packed and we just needed to have breakfast. We still had lots of things to do but with no internet connection they weren’t possible. Mark, the guy we met when we arrived was sat on the balcony. He was one of those people you could sit and chat to for ages.
Tim and Mark outside the hotel
He had a wifi connection which he said we could use which was fantastic. One thing we needed to do was find out how to repair Tim’s front dynamo hub as the bearings were getting loose on one side and as it was something that only the producers, Smitt could do; it could be tricky. They had replied to an email and said they would send us a new hub and once changed over we could just send back the worn one. This was an amazing service and a breath of fresh air. The next problem was where to send it. Sharon emailed D in London as she kindly would let us have a reliable address to send it to. So far so good. The next problem was our Go Pro was not charging the batteries properly. Mark had one too and in an incredible act of kindness he offered us his. He said he would check ours out and if it didn’t charge he would just get it fixed. This was unbelievable.We thanked him for his kindness and got on the road.We tossed a coin as to which road to take. The desert or the valley road. The valley road would take us past several more pyramids but would be busy and the desert road would take us behind the great pyramids and on a quieter road. The valley road won and we made our way out of Giza.
We stopped for baked sweet potato and were invited to share their lunch of falafel and bread. It was good going and we passed through great scenery passing Sakarra Pyramid.
Tim passing one of the 104 Pyramids that exist in Egypt
As we were riding along Tim noticed his back wheel was a bit buckled. When we stopped he took a look and squeezed a few spokes only to find one was slack. On closer inspection the spoke was fine but a chunk of metal had been come out of the hub. This was a suprise as it would nomally be a spoke that would break. This was bad news as it left a weak spot in the wheel and could be a problem to get repaired. We continued on and with the sun setting it was beautiful but with a river one side and crops or houses the other we hadn’t seen anywhere to camp all day. We rode on into the dark and found ourselves in a town at a T junction. We headed to the highway and kept looking. It took another hour before we saw a long concrete wall. We walked down the side of it away from the road and found it opened out to a large flat field. We plonked ourselves in the corner, pitched the tent and got tea on the go. As we sat eating we could see a wedding going on in the distance with cars driving round beeping their different tuned horns and distorted Egyptian music playing at full blast. With the temperature dropping we cleared up and had a quick wash before heading to bed.
Saturday 8th December
Our quiet spot hidden from the road
Our ‘neigh’bours for the night
We woke up in our walled camp spot and had breakfast. The farmer came over and welcomed us. We headed off on the flat road and soon after spotted a crate of tomatoes on the side of the road. We pulled over and asked how much for a kilo? The guy started filling a bag full. Thinking he had misunderstood Sharon got the wallet out but he insisted we didn’t pay, putting in a couple more for good measure. Just as we left a kid on a motorbike came over to us and asked us for money. We politely turned him down and rode on.
We turned off the main highway and headed for the desert road hoping to see a few more Pyramids that were marked on the map. With the kid still hassling us Tim stopped next to an older man and told the kid to go away. He finally got the message when the man had a go at him as well. We asked at a garage for water. It was interesting to see that they kept all their fuel in containers. We ended up having tea and chatting with them. We were also invited to their place to sleep but needing to get on we soon joined the desert road passing many brick works with chimneys everywhere.
Shaz on the desert road
We rode along on for an hour or so before spotting a large Pyramid (Maidum) off to our left. Not looking that far away, we turned off the highway. It seamed to take forever to get there and after a good 30 minutes of riding we arrived at the base of it.
The magnificiant Maidum Pyramid
Managing to get in for students price, we climbed the steps to the base of the main Pyramid to find we could descend deep inside to a large chamber. It was totally unexpected. We went to the next one and with a tiny tunnel also came to a large well built chamber. It was well worth the £2 each. We made our way back to the entrance and asked if they minded us cooking our lunch there. They said it was fine and said something about a police escort. One of the guys asked if we felt safe on the road and did we have a gun? We replied we have always felt safe and that no we don’t need a gun. They then went on to say how safe Egypt was but there was a police car on its way to escort us. We explained we didn’t need a police car and were confused about why we needed one. They said it was ‘the rules’. They were really nice guys and we all chatted while having dinner. When it was time to go we said goodbye and quickly got going before the police saw us leave.
We headed on tracking down the desert road again and rode until the sun set. It was good going but being the desert road everything was starting to get covered in that fine layer of dust that you find on old floor boards in the loft of a cob house. It got everywhere and was as fine as flour. We spotted some bushes off the road to the right and pitched our tent, hidden for the night.
Riding into the sunset
Sunday 9th December
We woke up amongst the olive trees. Sharon had slept badly so had an extra 15 minutes (as it makes all the difference) It was a hazy day around 22 degrees which suited us fine. We got on the road and joined the trucks heading to Aswan.
We stopped after 15 miles feeling tired and needing a quick break. We had a cold drink and chi and bought a large box of biscuits to keep us going. Soon after we went through a police check point. They stopped us and asked to see our passports. They asked us where we were going, we told them Aswan. They walked off with our passports and said they needed to call the chief. After quite a lot of persuasion we convinced them we didn’t need an escort. We stopped for lunch having done 32 miles. It was another police check point /garage and there was a good shelter out of the sun. We headed off an hour later full of noodles and tea.
A while later we went through another check point. This time we weren’t so successful in convincing them we didn’t need an escort. They followed us for a while and we came across a truck that had spilt its load of tomatoes. We simultaneously stopped both wanting to help put their load back in the many crates that were scattered on the road. The police vehicle stopped and one of the policemen got out shaking his head and said ‘what are you doing?’ Sharon replied ‘Egyptian people help us so we want to help them’. He replied ‘I think English people are nice people’ They stood around for a while and started to look bored. Eventually they asked if we needed them and we said no thanks. They headed off and we were grateful to be on our own once more. We continued to pick up tomatoes off the road for another 20 minutes or so before heading on.
Tim helping out
It was getting dark and we eventually found a spot behind some trees. Tim wasn’t feeling well and struggled to eat his dinner. He got an early night while Sharon packed up. We both fell asleep as soon as our heads touched our pillows.
Riding into another beautiful sunset
Monday 10th December
A hidden spot in the sand
We woke with the sun on the tent. Tim still felt unwell, didn’t sleep that well and felt a bit detached from everything. The farmer came over to see what we were doing and was a nice guy offering us to stay at his house. Needing to head south we pushed our bikes through the sand up on the road. Tim gave the bike chains a good clean before setting off. The going was good but we took it steady.
As trucks passed, they would beep their horns encouraging us along. Nearing lunchtime we spotted a petrol station and they said we could cook in a side room. We laid our things out and had lunch. Noticing our food was getting low we needed to pick up a few bits which was tricky as most places only sold biscuits. We did manage to pick up enough to last a day so continued on.
Celebrating passing our 7,000 mile –
Tim is sporting his new Okehampton Cycle Club jersey!
We passed through a couple of police check points managing to avoid being spotted. The wind picked up and we found ourselves in the middle of a sand storm.
Can you spot Shaz?
Tim riding the storm
With the sun going down we called in at a cafe where the owner offered us to sleep in a room. We really needed to do another 15 miles so we declined.
We had only ridden 2 miles when we passed through another police check point. They pulled us over and asked where we were going. We told them Aswan and they pointed to the dark sky asking where we would sleep. We said the desert and before they could say anything we said goodbye. We shot off and pulled off the road 200 metres on, just to check where we were on the map so we didn’t overshot a junction putting us deeper in the desert. Confirming where we were we rode on to see the police waiting for us in the middle of the road. They insisted they escort us. We found it frustrating but quite funny as they drove at 10 mph right behind us. Sharon tried making them stall when going up a hill by cycling slower but they just about kept the engine going.
We rode on for about 8 miles when we were pulled over by another police car coming to take over. Sharon had a word with them saying we didn’t need them and thinking we had got rid of them, we found make them driving closer to us. We pulled over finding a great spot to camp but they were adamant we weren’t allowed and explained we had to go on another 4 miles to a police checkpoint. They said we could camp there on a sandy triangle right in the middle of a major road junction lit up by about 8 street lights. We insisted on camping off the road away from the lights and staring traffic. We wheeled our bikes down the bank and started to set up. Before we knew it we had 6 policemen and 2 paramedics (who were stationed nearby) all interested in the life of a cycle tourist. After many surprised faces and showing everyone the inside of our tent they all left so we could eat tea. Feeling much better then this morning the only challenge left for the day was to wash at a road junction….
Thank you for reading!