Riding a bicycle down the coast with the ocean on the East is a tad different than California. The Red Sea makes up the Eastern coast of Egypt and provides stunning seaside road one would expect from Malibu. (Just change to ocean to the other side of the road and read from right to left)
Having the Suez Canal past the Sinai peninsula, this uniquely blue Red Sea has been crucial in the geopolitical and economic condition of the planet. The waters provide a shipping lane and ideal location for global transport— as well as a great road for three bicycle tourists to ride.
A brand new paved highway leads from New Cairo to Ain Shokna, the seaport town. We rode on fresh pavement made possible as part of the newest development plan by Abdul el-Sisi, Egypt’s new president, who lives bicycles by the way!
The first ocean jump into the marvelous waters of the Red Sea was a refreshing cool down as we are getting used to riding in desert temperatures. Our daily intake of juice is about 3 liters- one pomegranate middle of the ride, one orange to start the day and one strawberry-banana or lemon-mint, on top of the 6 liters of water to stay hydrated while riding a hundred miles in hundred degree heat.
But the real difficult thing is not the heat, it’s the wind. I shutter to the sight of windmills facing the other direction you are riding and spinning rapidly in the gusts. It takes twice as many pedals to go against wind, and it feels as though the whole desert is going against you. But on a bicycle tour you must take the crooked with the straights. The tail wind that gently carries you across the land and to a beachside oasis is dreamlike—- and met with teal clear water that is the perfect temperature to take an hour soak and, better yet, maybe three!!
One repetitive theme in our conversations with the locals is that there has been much less tourism to these parts in recent years. After the revolution, many people have thought Egypt to be unsafe, and perhaps not the place to go on a vacation for chance of something bad happening to them. Many buildings have been abandoned or look as though they were never fully completed because the whole industry fell by the wayside. Our new friends biggest request is that we tell people back home how Egypt is actually full of friendly people.
We have been treated almost too well, with people trying hard to drive our bicycles down the road. Or, more appreciated by people crazy enough to turn down a bus and ride 200 miles through the blistering heat, new friends great us with a home cooked meal. A police colonel gave us liters upon liters of water at a military checkpoint at which we had to spend a lot of time waiting. He even called his friends to get us on a dive boat on the Giftun islands off the coast of Hurghada. A true welcoming to the Red Sea.
Under the surface of this teal water exists a world of pristine coral and fish of every color and more from Dr. Suede’ one fish two fish, red fish blue fish! We got to go on 7 dives over the course of three days, and every second contained its own magical view unlike anything I’ve seen before. A divemaster from Northern England said this is his favorite place in the world to dive, and spends two weeks in this area every year. I am grateful for the opportunity of being weightless in a field of thousands of rainbow fish, rays, and expanses coral more astonishing than the pointillist mural of La Grande Jatte. It goes hand in hand with the feeling of flying down alongside the coastal rode under my own power while on the bicycle.
It is true freedom to be able to ride our bicycles this far, and the dream continues as we meet up with the Nile River in Luxor, and follow its waters into Sudan.