DESPITE mechanical issues, medical problems and challenging terrain and temperature, the Cycle to Rwanda team arrived in Egypt this week.
Since leaving Bury St Edmunds on April 28, Pete White, from Great Whelnetham, Neil Dykes, from Tostock, and fellow cyclists Pete Goodwin and Julian Claxton have been through their share of ups and downs, with Mr Dykes dropping out after the European leg of the trip.
On Tuesday, Mr Goodwin Tweeted: “Today’s wishlist. A carbon road bike, car to carry my stuff, a fridge to sit in, freshly squeezed lemonade, ice cream. 20hrs sleep.”
The team set off in good spirits, aiming to ride 6,000 miles through 12 countries in 70 days to raise money for Sport For Rwanda, but by May 2 they were tired and feeling the effects of lack of sleep.
Mr Claxton’s bike got stuck in 10th gear for most of May 3 but, after an impromptu repair stop, the cyclists left Germany for Austria.
They reached Vienna on May 5 and within 24 hours were in Hungary, which saw them battle 110 miles into rain and a strong head wind before getting to Serbia, where they enjoyed a well-deserved day of rest, recharging their batteries with sports massages and food treats.
Then, on May 10, they decided to split into two separate teams.
Mr Goodwin explained: “Neil and I have a similar riding style and prefer a quicker pace – leaving later and finishing earlier.
“Pete W and Jules showed preference for an approach involving more time in the saddle and an alternative pace, but with the same aim of covering the miles.”
It was not long after the split that things took a turn for the worse, with Mr Claxton hit by food poisoning and father-of-one Mr White forced to go it alone while he recovered.
Meanwhile, Mr Goodwin received a nerve injury, known as cyclist’s palsy, and Mr Dykes decided he did not want to continue with the team to Africa.
Mr White said: “Although we had our differences in cycling, when we were not concentrating on the cycling we all got along well and I find this deeply sad.
“However, on a cycling trip this is a big problem, I guess.”
On May 14, the team reached Greece and, despite being ill once again, Mr Claxton saw the funny side of having a police escort for a busy 6km stretch of road.
Then, last Wednesday, the team arrived in Athens, Tweeting: “Over 1,800 miles done!! Absolutely elated. Buzzing.”
They even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Panathinaiko Stadium, in Athens, to watch the handover ceremony of the Olympic torch.
Mr White said: “Seeing Boris, Becks and Lord Coe rocking up was funny. Pete G was on TV and, although I was next to him, Lord Coe was blocking me from cameras.”
Since then, the team has continued on through Cairo’s 43 degree heat and hope to arrive in Kigali in time to accompany the Rwandan Olympic team on their journey to Bury, where their pre-games training will take place.
To support the cyclists, go to: www.justgiving.com/cycletorwanda