2 February 2016 // Berefet to Banjul // 95km // highest temperature: 40°
Last ride today and it is the longest one so far. Everyone is mentally preparing for the 95km we have ahead of us, packing energy bars, bananas and water for the road. Before we even realize it everyone has set off at 7h30 sharp. We don’t want to lose any of that cool weather time. The pace is high this morning, everyone can already smell the finish line, it seems. One stop on the way to lunch for a quick banana and off we go again. The morning was filled with some splendid offroad tracks again, zigzagging through small hut villages where children welcome us and joyfully yell “Tubab, tubab” all together. “Tubab” means “white person”, but they mean it in the kindest sense of the word. They reach out their hands to high five all the bikers, which we gladly do.
At lunch, our friends from Nouvelles Frontières (who organize all the logistics and food and drive the cars who follow the bikers all day) are loyally waiting for us, giving us the best of care, together with our great support team Jana, Anne, Ilse, Wim and Bianca. They deserve a medal for patiently answering all our questions: “I forgot my sun cream last night, have you found it?”, “How many kilometers until the next stop?”, “can I get an extra energy bar?”, “Can I get an extra bike outfit?”,… They sometimes felt like they were our mothers, but always with a smile.
After lunch we did a last part of the off road track, before riding 20km over the road, with A LOT of wind holding us back. All of a sudden we have to turn left, a steep downhill, and what we see then is beyond our expectations: a beautiful forest of palm trees, the beach and the sea. Our final 5 km are over the beach, which is very tiring when you pass just in the high tide, but the view and the feeling of knowing that you are biking on a beach make up for that entirely.
From far way we can see the Brussels Airlines flag. It doesn’t come one second too early, because the tide keeps getting higher and the wet sand is getting very tiresome. We are welcomed by many people during that last stretch who clap at us and wish us congratulations. Of course the frontrunners have arrived an hour before the biggest part of the group and they are already relaxing by the pool. Everyone hugs each other and congratulates each other for this great achievement. Friendships for life have been made here, that’s for sure.
Talking to everyone around the tables at dinner, all we hear is that this was again a great experience, getting to know Africa and its people up close, its generosity, its smiles, its beautiful faces,... This truly is a once in a lifetime experience.
After a great last dinner by the beach at the Senegambia Hotel, Piet (Ozark Henry) treated us to a mini concert. We’ve never seen the entire group so silent and in awe. Piet was one of us from day one in the Bike For Africa adventure, as if it was his third edition. After Piet a local band The Nightingales comes on stage and gives us some great tunes to dance to, but as was to be expected everyone is knackered at around 1AM from the long but great day. Tomorrow we sleep in until 8AM and then we visit Horizons Clinic, the second humanitarian project we support with Bike For Africa.