After a few months of cycling in the sunshine, the novelty of being in it wears off. When you stop, you seek shade. You want to keep it off your skin if you can help it. It's not that you don't appreciate the good weather. It's just that the sunshine is so strong in the desert that you have to get into the shade to stop yourself feeling as though you are being slow-cooked.
While cycling through northern Algeria in a particularly flat and stony part of the desert, Dan and I needed to stop to eat lunch. We were hungry but there was simply no shade in which to stop, eat and rest up before the afternoon ride. For miles around, there was just the rocky plain and the road.
That is, until we came across the little building in the picture to the left. It was about four feet square inside with a flat roof and one open side. It was big enough for the two of us to sit inside with our knees up and in the shade. To keep the sun off the open side and us, we hung up a thin towel. It was cool inside and a relief to be out of the sun. I have no idea what that little hut was for. It might have been a small bus shelter but there were no houses for miles.
Nevertheless, it was a blessed relief.
Cheer up, Will. It could be worse!
I forget just how tough some parts of our journey were ss we cycled through Africa. It was not until I dug this photo out and scanned it to upload to Flickr that I remembered why I was looking so terrible.
Dan and I had been cycling along some incredibly dusty and corrugated roads from the border with Cameroon to the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui. The corrugations were impossible to avoid and jarred us for each of the eight hours we cycled every day.
To make matters worse, the logging lorries that came along the roads, and which caused the corrugations, threw up great clouds of orange dust. The dust covered us head to foot and tyre to saddle. It was hot, humid and not much fun.
But, then, suddenly, as we neared Bangui, we came onto a stretch of tarmac road. The sensation was was weird. Moments before, we had been fighting along every inch of the road. But, now, we felt as though we were gliding along effortlessly.
It was a moment to record. We got our cameras out and shot a photo of each other. The looks on our faces say it all. Our clothes were filthy. Our faces were caked with dirt. Our bikes and kit had turned colour from black to orange.
A little further on, the tarmac stopped and it went back to dirt until we get to Bangui.
But, it was a great experience and it was all part of adventure travelling.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family and is now a magazine editor and occasional adventure cyclist.
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