Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 2111, Qena – Safaga: Crossing the Sahara

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Dec - 13 - 2016

Distance: 84.7 km
Ride time: 4:29:09
Average: 18.9 km/h
Max speed: 34.2 km/h
Total: 53036 km

I woke up at 5 and was ready to cycle by 5:30, trying to beat the crazy Egyptian heat. After checking out of my hotel I was waiting for the police to show up. They came before too long, and once again I was being escorted out of town by a police car driving a few meters behind me. Oh well, on the bright side no kids are throwing stones at me anymore 🙂

After half an hour of police escort I was told that I was allowed to cycle by myself to the next checkpoint some 25 km up the road. I enjoyed the freedom as I headed into the real Sahara desert on my way to the Red Sea. The road climbed from near sea level at the Nile Valley to more than 600 meters of altitude. I enjoyed the climb – mostly because the extra altitude meant a couple of degrees reduction of the relentless heat.

In the middle of the day I passed a tiny desert settlement and was surprised to see a simply restaurant next to a very remote gas station. Seldom have I enjoyed a cold coke this much.

Later in the day the police found me again, asking if I needed a lift to Safaga. I replied that I was happy enough to cycle, but the middle aged police man let me know in no uncertain terms that it was better if I got a lift, after which he ordered his younger assistant to lift my bike into the back of the car.

I have a strong principle of cycling as much as possible during this trip, and I never accept lifts. Now, this time the lift was more like an order, and I couldn’t do much but accept the fast ride down towards Safaga. I asked the police if this stretch of road was particular dangerous which surprisingly didn’t seem to be the case.

I was driven right to the door of the hotel in Safaga which the police had once again selected. After a shower and a bit of rest I wanted to go out for a bite to eat. As I entered the lobby the receptionist stopped me and called the police. The cyclist wants to go out to eat” was what I imagined the staff told the police”. The arrangement became that the hotel security guard would follow me to the restaurant after which I was asked to return to the hotel immediately.

The town seemed safe enough, and once again I was rather surprised about the reaction from the Egyptian police. I surely haven’t tried anything like this elsewhere. The security guy didn’t speak much English, but we had a nice and improvised form of conversation over dinner. On the way back to the hotel I shook hands with several of Ahmed’s friends – I got the feeling he was pretty proud of showing up with a foreigner under his protection.

Now I wonder how much I will be able to cycle tomorrow before the police catches up again. Cycling in Egypt is a very unique experience.

Categories: Egypt
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One Response so far.

  1. On the run from the rozzers again? 🙂