Le Tour du Senegal Part 1: Preparation

Tuesday 27th October 2009

by Dan Smith

I recently returned from a reasonably successful Tour du Senegal where I represented the French composite team ‘Loire et Sillon Cyclisme’. Following is an insight into what’s involved!

Preparation for a bike race in Africa is a little different to what is required for racing in Europe or other developed countries. The most important thing to think about before going away are the health issues whilst over there.  Up-to-date vaccinations and anti-malaria drugs are a must! My facebook friends might have seen the list of medication and health products that I took away with me… Betadine, betadine-gauze, greasy gauze, compresses, anti-bacterial spray, anti-sceptic spray, diarrheoa tablets (lots), Smecta, rehydration tablets, ibuprofen, antibiotics, strepsils, indigestion tablets, insect bite cream, eye wash, anti-malirial drugs, mozzy repellant for clothes and skin and a mosquito net to sleep under.

The best bet is to assume that there will be nobody there to look after you, and to take everything you might need to treat yourself! There was a nurse following the race (normally a race should be followed by an ambulance!), but apparently she didn’t even have what was needed to treat road rash!  Most of what I took was needed either for myself or for my team mates.  Fortunately for me I didn’t get sick until the day I arrived back in France.

This year was my 3rd time in Africa, so when I arrived in Dakar I was ready for the heat and humidity.   I set off in search of my bags…  and here’s where things stopped going to plan, my bike bag was there but my kit bag had been left in bloody Casablanca where we had to change planes!  My kit bag contained all my clothes, wash bag, cranks, pedals and cycling shoes!  Heureusement je parles francais, because I had to register my lost baggage and impress how important it was that I got the bag back in time for the start of the race!  As you can imagine I was a none too happy bunny whilst waiting for my kit to arrive.  Apart from anything I only had one pair of boxer shorts and one pair of socks!

National Football Stadium

The photo above is the National Football Stadium at Dakar, and is also where we slept for the first and last stages of the Tour.

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