155km camp near Rufaa to camp near Sennar. The Chinese smooth paved roads ceased after Khartoum but we continued to have rough pavement until today when the black top ended and the construction zone began. We were warned yesterday, so many riders had switched out their tires to wider, bigger, more traction style tires. The change of terrain shook up (literally) the ride a bit – traditional road riders were complaining a bit and mountain bikers were cheering. My trusty Trek 6000, Leialoa, did very well (especially after I remembered to unlock the front suspension) and I really enjoyed the thought that was required in dirt riding – good thing because we have a lot more ahead!
The ride day was like yesterday, but with a little less wind and thus more intense heat. My wonderful EFCB team of Kim and James humored me with a lovely chai stop in the morning to refresh with tea/coffee/yoghurt/chocolate bon bons underneath a billboard and next to the railroad tracks on plastic stools. The afternoon coke stop had 5 times as many riders trying to escape the heat and a very nice local man speaking French who invited us all back to his house. Then at camp, the town leader arrived with free drinks for everyone and a hearty welcome.
These nice gestures of humanity were in contrast to a few really disheartening incidents today of stone throwing children, lewd men, and 200 gang-like school boys blocking the road. I was very saddened by these as until now, the people of Sudan have been very hospitable. Why do people do these things? But, the saddness was washed away in the current of the canal (or part of the Nile) – a most wonderful surprise that our camp was 20 meters from the water. I took two swims and then taught the yoga class soaking wet! After dinner, Bastiaan, James, Liam, Wendy, Paul, and I sat by the water’s edge and watched the stars and moon appear and listened to the emerging insect sounds of the night. All felt so refreshing after a hot and frustrating day.