Why Tour d’Afrique?

101_0191.jpgLast January after returning from the typical Canadian vacation to Florida and a cruise to the Bahamas, Dave and I felt that it was time for a change. It had been almost 3 years since our amazing 8 month trip to Asia, and with the exception of a summer trip to Peru and a few ski vacations and getaways, we really hadn’t been anywhere that fulfilled our need to travel.

We were sitting on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves in the cold damp weather, wondering what we were doing. We had become couch potato’s watching reality TV and drinking too much wine. But it all changed when we saw a great segment on the CBC. It was about Ray Zahab an Ultra Marathon Runner who had turned his life around in 6 short years. A former heavy smoker and drinker, he gave all of that up for sports and soon won the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon on his first try. Dave turned to me and said, I would love to do that. I agreed, Dave is a great runner and would have no problem. I’m not a huge fan of jogging, but I was willing to give it a shot. I needed to get back in shape and find some energy again, and doing something together is a great motivator. img_0035.jpg

We were so excited to have the goal of running a marathon in 2007. We started jogging in the ice and snow and doing our workout that a personal trainer taught us a couple of years earlier. We were starting to feel much better about ourselves and were ready to sign up for a marathon training course at the running room. But that goal didn’t last long… A couple of weeks later, we read an article about Andrew Cameron from Ottawa. He was taking off to compete in a bike race through Africa and we thought, “hey we should do that.” We love to travel and we are big fans of mountain biking so this seemed more of a fit. Besides, I am better at biking than running, so of course it was a no brainer for me. Soon our little goal of running in the Toronto Marathon changed to a completely different goal of biking 12,000 km from Cairo to Capetown in 12 months time. We had better get a move on.

It was now mid February in Canada, so biking wasn’t exactly an option. We had let ourselves go flabby over the last year and it was time to get back on track. So we did what everyone else was doing. We joined a gym to work off the holiday calories. And like everyone else, we’d probably stop in a month or two. Our spinning club membership lasted for exactly one month. Because it was such an expensive fee, we had to get our moneys worth so we went every single day. 6 am and 10 degrees below zero and I was not happy. Dave took it better than I did. We bundled up in our big boots, down jackets and furry hats and off we went to spin our little hearts out. I am sure that the club was a little surprised when we didn’t come back after our month was up. We seemed so dedicated. But it was now March and time to go outside. Besides, we had a big bill of $20,000 coming up in a few months for the tour, so we couldn’t keep spending money on membership fees every month.
We bought some toe warmers, and a few more layers of Gortex and we were out riding regularly. After a couple of chain breaks and derailleur problems, we realized that we had better learn a little bit more about how to tune up our bikes. Thanks to the good old Toronto Bicycle Network, we found just the course. 8 weeks long and with a great teacher named Nani, we felt more secure about taking on the challenge.
One problem though, we learned that our beloved 5 year old Specialized Mountain Bikes couldn’t handle the trip. We will miss you guys, but the trails will be here next year when we get back.

The past few months have been all about buying bikes, bike gear, training and more training. We haven’t reached the goal of becoming super athletes, but we are in a lot better shape than that cold January evening. We feel ready to tackle anything Africa can throw at us and secure enough to fix our bike on the side of some remote highway.
Thanks to Paula and Danny, coming camping with us- if it were just the two of us, we would have opted for a hotel. But now we have found the right thermarest, changed a few things here and there and our camping gear is now (hopefully) ready for Africa.

Also kudos to Paula for forcing us into a triathlon this year. It was great cross training and of course, now Dave wants to attempt an Ironman in the next couple of years. I guess I will be running again.
The year that I thought would creep along has gone in a flash and we leave in 4 months. So much to do and so little time. But we are so happy that it is flying by. Stay tuned we will keep you posted on what’s to come.



  1. Hi Dave and Debra.

    I visit Tour d’Afrique site every day – guess why? My husband, Bernie and I are
    booked on the tour in Jan 08 – so we are pleased to see that you are both taking
    the challenge – and I see where there is another couple going as well. We have
    been following the tour since it began 5 years ago and have been planning for
    the past 3 years – so 2008 is our year. We have not submitted our profiles yet,
    but are working on such.

    Hope you get this comment.
    Our email address is:

    By the way, we are from the other coast of Canada – living on good ole Prince
    Edward Island.

  2. Just checked out your blog. Its great.

  3. Hi kids:
    Wow! your blog is great. Sounds like you have had a really busy summer – training and working. Just read your latest update – when do you leave for Cairo? January? Can’t believe it’s here already.Sounds like you are going to have a couple of Canadian couples riding with you – I know you will all do Canada proud – the people of Africa will certainly be appreciative of what you are all doing to raise money and awareness of their plight with HIV/AIDS. God Bless you and your tour – we’ll all be praying for your safety and your successul conclusion.
    P.S.Dave when you and Deb have an evening maybe we can get you hear for dinner before you leave.Are you going to be here for Christmas? Let me know – Love Mom

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