Khartoum to Cambridge a cycling adventure
On Dec 14th 2001, Sally Schoolboy'sDream Haiselden cycled out of Khartoum,
'Why is she doing it?' I hear you ask. Well as a friend of her's put it, 'Why not?'
Sally has been teaching kids at Unity High School in Khartoum these past 2½ years, improving the English of diplomats at the foreign ministry, acquiring diseases (malaria dysentery etc), and has almost from the beginning harboured thoughts of cycling home at the end of her contract.
The End, and home in Cambridge
Dateline: 28th July 2002
The St Radegund pub, King Street Cambridge was reached on Monday 29th July and as planned I cycled into the pub and said those much rehearsed and dreamed of magic words: 'A pint of Pride please Terry.'
I had brought the weather from Khartoum; brilliant sunshine and sweltering temperatures. In the hold of the ferry waiting for the bow doors to open onto England I felt slightly nervous but knew I was home when I saw mum and dad's car drive past me and then a very relieved dad in an especially eyecatching loud shirt ambled round the corner. It was back with a jolt as the only place for breakfast was Safeway the local supermarket, complete with unwashed tables, smeary cutlery and grey tea. Welcome home to the Britain which is good at doing things bad! But as I cycled in the brilliant sunshine through the undulating Suffolk countryside I was reminded of how beautiful this country is and I began to think home is not so bad if you do not read the papers or watch the news; steer clear of trains; ignore Tony Blair; and hibernate in a quiet corner of so very green East Anglia. I had a delicious pint of Green King IPA in a pub with a sign outside saying 'PUB, OPEN' put there I suppose for returning long distance cyclists who might have forgotten what one looks like, especially when open.
I registered that I could now understand every conversation going on around me, even the good old Suffolk boys in the pub who had probably been sitting there with the same pint chewing the cud for the past 40 years. Did not feel they were up to the shock of learning I had cycled from Khartoum which to them would have to be somewhere near King's Lynn, as much of an exotic destination to them as Khartoum was to me 3 years ago!
After a great weekend of eating and burbling away to the parents with random stories from the trip, Monday morning found me rendezvousing with my two cycling gurus, Crabbo and Mike, at Brandon station to be escorted into Cambridge. An easy 36mile ride for me with all my gear but a few creaks and groans from them. Mike commented that passersby might be wondering why two men were making the woman carry all the luggage.....
We took the most beautiful route into the city, along the Cam tow path. None of it seemed real and absurdly enough I felt as though I was jet lagged. Before I knew it I was crossing the common to the Radegund then had crossed the road and had pedalled up to my destination of 8855.27kms and came to a halt.
Expected and unexpected people were there; applause, cameras clicking, comments, questions, feeling of the leg muscles, congratulations. Too much for me to take in and to respond to any of it properly or to really savour the moment. Of course the doors to the pub could not be opened to accommodate my bike and all its luggage so instead I rather hauled myself and it in through the side door. Then I could say what I had rehearsed on many a long day in the saddle, dreamt of, kept sane on bad days by acting it out in my head; A pint of Pride please Terry. And THE END.
Except of course it was not and is not. The night stretched on to many more pints. A special hash run was laid on for me which I was unable to run because of my knee. I was especially pleased to have 3 people there, Rob, David and Julie who had all seen me off in Khartoum. They were my reality check. David and Julie will be returning to Sudan this week with pictures and stories to satisfy the curiosity of friends there, some of whom thought I would be home for Christmas!
And today 2 days after the end I am itching to get back in the saddle and move on. I am going to cycle to friends 80miles away for a final fling to show Jonathan my godson that I really did use his Dennis the Menace bike bell he gave me. And after that and much nagging but good advice from friends and family I will have to give the knee a long long rest............ so I guess no real excuse not to start the book in the meantime!
So this is not the end of this website either. Keep a look out for more photos, end of ride statistics for example total number of hours in the saddle etc, some of my articles and advice on equipment and planning your own trips!
I have to end with thanks to 4 special people. Crabbo for all his hard work on the website. My brother Step for all the favours I asked of him. And Chris P and Eva in Khartoum for all their support and encouragement; I knew they were always there.
Click here to read Sally's preamble
. . . here for maps of the route
. . . and here for Sally's photo album
The webmanager is sorry for the break in transmission of the message board. This was the result of a technical malfunction and had nothing to do with the alleged multi-billion dollar fraud at WorldCom. It is now working again, but sadly we have lost all the old messages.
Old News the story so far
Sally (with Erik her companion for the first leg) set off on Friday 14thDec at about 8.35am to the strains of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Rob and Eva biked with them out to the checkpoint 25 kms away, took pictures, and left them to tackle the wind which would be against them most of the first week.
By Christmas Eve they had conquered (albeit with vehicular help) the Bayudha Desert and it's appalling sand, and were heading for Abri. They spent Christmas day camped by the Nile listening to the Queen's Speech on Sally's radio.
The next stage to the Egyptian border was less difficult but Erik's bike only just made it. They arrived in Wadi Halfa on New Year's Eve and stayed a couple of days with a Sudanese family befriended on a previous visit. Erik then returned to Khartoum, while Sally continued alone on the ferry to Aswan.
Spectacular scenery and hair raising cycling in Jordan, and eastern hospitality in Syria and Turkey were the highlights of the next seven weeks.
Click below to read old writeups in full:
The hardest part of the trip is the first leg, when I leave Khartoum and cycle north about 300km across the Baiyuda desert to the Nile. I will not be alone on this stretch as a friend, Erik has taken up the challenge and his family and the German contingent from Khartoum are going to be following with water and other refreshments. A final farewell will be had in the desert and after being escorted to the Nile we will be on our own. Erik will be with me for ¾ of the distance up to the Egyptian border, passing through a series of small villages along the Nile. Once he puts his bike on a truck to head back to Khartoum I will be totally alone facing the delightful prospect of a New Year in Wadi Halfa (a possible definition of hell on Earth), waiting for the ferry to Aswan which may or may not arrive on time (or at all).
Inshallah (meaning 'If it is God's will') as they always say in Sudan, the route will take me through the north of Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, parts of Greece, Croatia and Italy then some meandering through the rest of Europe, in particular to Germany to be guided round the eating and drinking hostelries of Bavaria and Cologne. Then it's across from the Hook of Holland to Harwich, a quick 'Hi' to mum and dad en route to Cambridge and the final destination, the St Radegund pub on a Hash night. The aim is to cycle into the pub, go on the run and then have a pint of Pride. Alhamdullilah! I'm home!
So I return to the original question; 'Why am I doing it?' I have been provided with lots of reasons not to do it by concerned friends in Khartoum; 'But there are snakes and scorpions,' 'What about water?', 'It is a long way!', 'You will be tired.' 'But you are a woman. You are alone'. It's not as though I have not thought about the risks but such talk makes me more stubborn and determined regardless even of George Bush's attempts to interfere with the route! I am sure at many stages along the way I will remember peoples' concerns and regret my flippant reply; 'I know, I know but I want to cycle home, write a book and retire.' Now which of those is the hardest to accomplish?
Updates will be sent at irregular intervals to Crabbo in Cambridge, my website manager and cycling guru.
A tally of the 3 Ps will be kept number of: