day 0: The prologue

… sometime in December …

This year’s XmasEpic is brought to you by T.E. Lawrence; “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”.

“For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us, at night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars. We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in the glare.” 7POW;pg11

Life has become increasingly complicated as the chances of a cyclist returning an “adverse analytical result” spiral ever upwards. The constant struggle with UCI officialdom negates any possibility of acquiring the “proper preparation” for the type of tour on which we are about to embark. This year we are forced to go to Tanzania, where the meat is untainted. As “black riders” we decide to secretly tamper with our equipment rather than our blood profiles.

I give you the “Phoenix”.

With a pedigree originating from P.R.China’s finest heavy gauge steel, this bike subtly changes your musculature and power/weight ratio more efficiently than Spanish clenbuterol. A closer look reveals a Hindustani bus influence with no less than 13 rear reflectors for maximum safety.

And what appears to be a light generator is actually a Cancellara-type motor gives you that extra 5% when required.

We obtain the services of a Swahili speaking Kikuyu. And are guided firstly through banana plantations:

where we are shadowed by mechanics:

ready for a quick wheel change:

This gives way to acacia thorn bush, much feared for both causing punctures and attracting giraffes:

Finally we reach the famed Serengeti single track…

…lovingly maintained by a dazzle of zebra.

Alarmingly, this gives way to hippopotami tracks.

We quickly backtrack, but even as we reach the natron pavé of the Lake Manyatta, the edge is receding. Africa has some really



really big sky.

Our preparation is complete.


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