Day 3, 26 March 2016
In my hurry to evade the Fun Police (and neglecting my usual maintenance checks) I woke up early, strapped the gear to my trusty mechanical steed and took off with my wheels spinning in a vague southerly direction along the Nile River. The police outside the hotel were shaking their fists at me, but I’m sure they will get over it.
(Unbeknownst to me I had loose bolts in my rear wheel cog just waiting to fly out, but that story will come a bit later…)
The Nile is an important source of life in this desert and it’s amazing to see the huge swarthes of green and lush palm trees that thrive along the length of this iconic river suddenly cease to exist and be replaced by one colour- the colour of sand.
If you look into the distance you can see the massive rock cliffs and desert appear, where the two meet. It’s just surreal.
Wrapping my turban over my face, I attacked this bustling farming road flat-out, getting air over the hundreds of random speed bumps that are apparently supposed to slow you down and dodging countless produce-laden donkeys, diesel spewing trucks and other traffic awesomeness.
As before, I blended into the surroundings and was paid little notice by anyone. Riding a cheap bike and dressing in simple clothes will generally let you slip on by, just another fella on a motorcycle.
Hitting a long straight I gunned it and admired the view unfolding before me. Spitting out a mouthful of sand and just as I yelled my usual “Allah Akhbar!” a loud metal crunching sound obliterated my happy moment.
As the offending bolts flew off and crunched in the chain, the rear wheel locked up and I flew into a power-slide onto the side of the road, barely missing a camel that was smoking a sheesha.
“HOLY FUCKING SHIT!” I thought out-loud in Arabic (I can’t quite pronounce the language yet, so I just release thought bubbles that sit above my head)
Inspecting the damage it seemed I had lost all four bolts with one remaining and the cog was flapping about like a soft cock in a hurricane.
Getting my tools out I set about repairing what I could. Covered in dust and grease, several passers-by stopped to help out. Even with the language barrier we had a great conversation.
I showed them my Gopro, said I was from Australia and received thumbs up and smiles from all. “Welcome, welcome to Egypt” was their response. Nothing but friendly Egyptian people here, an occurrence I am experiencing time and time again.
The media paints a picture that everyone here is seemingly out to kidnap and kill you . Well everyone I have met so far have been extremely friendly, mildly intrigued and downright helpful. You will be offered to drink tea wherever you stop, regardless of where you are from, it’s just another wonderful custom these lovely people have.
Having said that, you still have to keep your guard up and be ready for anything, so I got the job done quickly and limped 15km to the nearby town of Sohag, to get some replacement bolts and to properly inspect the damage.
At the hotel they offered to get a mechanic who came promptly, took my wheel, replaced my destroyed cog and bolts and even put it back on for me. For $10 bucks! ( It turned out these guys spoke no English either but the three of us went for a burn around town, weaving in and out of camels and cars, trying in vain to pop wheelies on our underpowered motorbikes and generally behaving like any reasonable adult male does, when in command of a motorized vehicle)
So it was good times in Sohag. Even when shitty things like breaking down happen, you get to meet new people and have a great experience.
So I will head off to Luxor in the morning and punch myself in the face for ignoring my daily bike maintenance. But right now I have a date with my friend the camel and his sheesha.
- kilometres travelled so far- 14 169
- flat tyres- 9 and 1/2
- incarcerations-0 (won’t be long now…)
- amount of police checkpoints I’ve ridden straight through without being shot at- 3
Asyut to Luxor (with a breakdown near Sohag via route #2 Eastern Agricultural Road)