Erin Miller took on the Tour D'Afrique this year, from February 13th through May 14th. We asked Erin about her experience.
I decided to undertake Tour D'Afrique because it was a great way for me to combine two of my favourite hobbies--- cycling and travel. I had always been interested in cycle touring but did not feel ready to do a self-supported journey so Tour D'Afrique was the perfect compromise. It was a great way to meet like minded travelers and cyclists from around the world and to get to visit many rural and remote parts of Africa that are more difficult to get to using other forms of transportation. As well, it was a great opportunity to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief, an organization which provides locally assembled bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs in Africa and other parts of the world.
Coming out of the summer triathlon season last year and starting to prepare for Tour D'Afrique meant more time on the bike and less time focusing on my running and swimming. I did however continue to swim twice a week as cross-training and also continued to do strength training when I could fit it in. Leading up to Tour D'Afrique, I was cycling 3-4 x per week mainly indoors because the tour started in the winter. I found participating in indoor group cycling (at Mindset and X3) very helpful to continue to build up my strength on the bike and increase my confidence heading into the tour.
The biggest challenge during the tour was dealing with the unexpected. On our longest day of the entire tour (208 km) it poured rain for the entire day and was very cold with a strong headwind, in an area of Africa that is generally very dry and warm. That was a tough day both physically and mentally but we had a great group of riders supporting each other to get through it. I also found the off road sections of the tour very challenging as most of my cycling experience has been focused around triathlon and I don't have much off road experience. I fell of my bike a few times during the off road bits but thankfully was able to get back on a keep riding.
The most memorable thing about the tour was definitely the people--- getting to bond with a group of riders from around the world, being supported by the amazing tour staff and getting to learn about local life from the people in the cities, towns and villages we visited all contributed to creating an unforgettable experience.
The biggest advice I would give to someone who is interested in participating in this event would be: Do it!!! While it wasn't always easy, it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever been a part of!
Here are a few pictures from the tour: