First of all, I am full heartily apologetic that I have neglected this blog. I know I have a small following (though I'm not sure how frequent you all come here now-a-days due to my lax mindset) but a following is a following and I need to take that into consideration, right?! Right.
So here are 23+ photos from our 23 day bike tour we cycled our asses off during the entire month of September. We completed over 1,850 km over the course of 23 days (including two rest days each a week apart). It was one of the hardest things I've done in country but also I am so glad I decided to participate in the entire tour and COMPLETED it. :]
*Note: The distances posted are the projected distances, many times they were 10-15 km longer but some days the gods of google gave us a few km off
Day 0: Karfigula!
We (Kelsey from AMERICALAND, Rob and I) were on top of one of the few tourist-y spots here in Burkina Faso, the cascades! No swimming for us due to Schistosomiasis... look it up, it's something you don't want. Tomorrow's our first day of biking.
Day 1: Karfigula - Orodara :: 65 Kilometers
Bike Glove Club: Missing a few key players (Jon, Anne, myself, Rob and Chris)
We're clean, excited and don't quite know how over our heads we are at this time...
Day 2: Orodara - Bobo Dialasso :: 80 Kilometers
We're in the South West region of the country where hills and valleys plague the roadways. I'm sure this is me exhausted and just wanting to show the world how much my legs are working. A picture doesn't do it justice...
Day 3: Bobo - Bereba :: 102 Kilometers...
This is the day Google Maps decided to lie to us all and add on about 30 kilometers. We (Rob and I) got lost on the way to Bereba (Ali's site) and ended up having to call the car due to the fact we road out 20 km, then had to ride 20 km back to where we took a wrong turn. Needless to say, it was a long long long day.
Day 4: Bereba - Dedougou :: 119 Kilometers
Photo Credit: Sara
I was officially in the back doing my thing. This is the front of the group (Chris, Jon, Rob and Ali) leading us to Daniel Doval's site in the big city of Dedougou.
Day 5: Dedougou - Tenado :: 106 Kilometers
All dirt roads today but according to Jon and Daniel that's just fine. I had stopped to take a break a the fork in the road and these two were only about 2 minutes behind me... Dani showed up shortly after that. After stopping in Tchiriba (spelling is completely wrong, sorry) and buying my oh so special fat man, Rasheda and I biked at a very leisurely pace to Tenado.
Day 6: Tenado - Koudougou :: 45 Kilometers
Dusty dusty sandy hot roads. Ew. One of our few short days... We made a stop in Reo to make some Neem Cream (anti-mosquito cream) with Lindsay's association. Met some Brits and all was well in the world.
Day 7: REST
Day 8: Koudougou - Latodin :: 100 Kilometers
Perks of leaving at 5:30 in the AM... beautiful sunrise ALWAYS.
Downside... getting up at 4:30, and packing the car at 5:00
Day 9: Latodin - Bissiguin :: 106 Kilometers
Stopped on the side of the road and found these kids with Chev. She asks if I want to take a picture of them... I say, "no, not really" and then I pull my camera out. I make sense.
Day 10: Bissiguin - Koussouko :: 65 Kilometers
Dance parties are always necessary with my life partner, Chev. This was either Wiz Khalifa, Tupac or Rhianna. Yea, you're jealous.
Annnd Rob's bike is more than half my size. My hand points to where his seat hits my waist. I don't understand how tall he is. He later took my bike a rode around. He looked ridiculous.
Day 11: Koussouko - Sabce :: 48 Kilometers
My two favorite people in this country. The last 4 km to Sabce were a bitch: rocky, sandy paths up and down (mostly up) hills. Not fun. Not fun at all.
Good news, got to show off my fat man (and friends) in order to repackage him to go off to Ouaga where he waited for me 'til the tour was finished.
Day 12: Sabce - Kaya :: 65 Kilometers
Pavement for a few handfuls of kilometers and then dirt road from there... and water? This is how all the bike tour participants caught schistosomiasis. Just kidding, mom (and country director)... but no, really. We rode through lots of water!!
Day 13: Sabce - Boulsa :: 78 Kilometers
Another medium sized day. Chev and I took a good amount of breaks this day for dance parties and photo ops. This is her being quite deranged due to the fact that our driver hadn't checked up on us in quite a while and our water was so LOW! Contemplating using this dirty rain/excrement/onion watering water...
Day 14: Boulsa - Bilanga Yanga :: 80 Kilometers
More water that we crossed over... I literally believed I would be washed away as I was biking through the overflow from the dam. This is us celebrating our survival.
Day 15: Bilanga Yanga - Fada :: 70 Kilometers...
The projected kilometers would have been correct if we had been able to take the direct route from Bilanga to Koupela and off to Fada... but instead we had to go this absurdly long way due to construction on a dam or road or lake. Anyway - the road was flooded into a oceanic lake. We ended up riding 134km that day.
Needless to say our day off was much needed.
Day 16: Fada :: DAY OF MUCH NEEDED REST
Along with sleeping in a bit, we were privileged to participate in a mostly Burkinabé run fair which was set up by the three musketeers in Fada: Joey, Louis and Scott. They're real troopers setting this thing up.
ps. Rob is a creeper
Day 17: Fada - Nakaba :: 83 Kilometers
This is the infamous day Hilary learned how to ride her bike without hands through my persistent coaching and encouragement. Good job Hil!! You're doing it, you're doing it!
Day 18: Nakaba - Tenkodogou :: 80 Kilometers
Good ol' drafting mentality finally came into play this day. We had lines and lines of us just drafting off of one another. Great most of the time, bad when people follow a little too closely and then eat pavement. Ouch!
Day 19: Tenkodogou - Beka :: 108 Kilometers
I was really excited about visiting Beka (for my second time!) and seeing how Josh and Ashley have survived their first (many) months of marriage life and living together. The village had lots of music and dancing when we arrived and (of course) Ashley fed us oh so well when we got to their place.
This was our escort to Beka... huge guns are always necessary?
Day 20: Beka - Po :: 82 Kilometers
Another VERY early morning. I especially love this photo. Everyone is working by headlamp, flashlight or by your phone light. Bike maintenance and packing the support vehicle.
Day 21: Po - Leo :: 124 Kilometers
This was the second longest day of the tour... and to make things even more intense it was ALL (except for maybe 20km) on dirt roads. We left Po and went into Nezinga Park and hoped to spot some elephants (no luck) and went out towards Sourou via the Diallo - Po road and cut away from Sourou to get to the main road and down to Leo we went. Bright side of things: Rob and I found this guy in the middle of the road and got distracted for about 7-10 minutes! He then decided to hiss and attack my head due to the fact that Rob tried to take him off my sleeve... it was, perhaps, the most frightening moment of my life.
Day 22: Leo - Gallo :: 80 Kilometers
Chev's house has a major mouse problem which just got worse... her evil mice (who eat EVERYTHING: even fake grapes and then die on the floor only to be found a couple weeks later, ew) had babies!! I found one. Rob and I named him Fifel. No, I didn't eat him. We let him go to nature... he was probably a great meal for a large bird or cat.
Day 23: Gallo - Ouaga :: 80 Kilometers
Photo Credit: Scott
Well guys. We made it. It was great sunny weather all throughout the tour except for our last day heading into Ouaga... around 8AM it started to down pour and didn't stop until we got into Ouaga around noon. This is a picture of *most* of the riders throughout the tour. Yellow is for all the permanent riders and the red or green and white shirts are for people who joined us.
I hope you all enjoyed this. I am sorry I took so long to put this up. I've been thinking about posting it for a while but I've been busy with all kinds of other things that I'll go into when I write my next post... which might be tomorrow! :]