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Cirencester to South Africa by Bike

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On October 1st 2009 I will depart from Cirencester on a 12,000+ mile (19,000 km) cycle South across France and Spain and down the West coast of Africa before arriving in Lesotho or Cape Town (England fixture dependent) at the start of June 2010. The bike leg represents the core element of Tri4Africa and will take me through 2 continents and 21 countries crossing a hugely diverse range of climatic conditions, landscapes, wildlife and cultures in the process. The route has been devised according to the availability of suitable roads, the safety of travel through certain countries and information available from other overland travellers. The route also incorporates visits to Re-Cycle's charity projects based in Mauritania (tbc), Ghana and Namibia and will conclude with the donation of my bike to a project based in either Lesotho or Cape Town. With 8 months to complete this journey I will need to average close to 100km per day on a fully loaded bike while overcoming the many exciting challenges that West Africa has to offer.






> Road Conditions
> Climate
> Wildlife
> Tropical Diseases
> Visas
> Human Dangers
> Bike Maintenance
> Nutrition 





With a bit of luck, help from Africans and relentless pedal power the cycle promises to be a hugely rewarding adventure of discovery down West Africa.  

Road Conditions 
The road conditions will vary markedly from the smooth tarmac of Europe, North Africa and Southern Africa to the pot holed and corrugated dirt roads and sand tracks of Equatorial Africa. The main impact of poor road conditions will include slower progress, greater wear and tear on the bike and saddle sores, not to mention a reduced sperm count!


Travelling over such a long period through a range of latitudes will mean that I need to be prepared for a vast range of climatic conditions - not an easy task when attempting to travel as lightly as possible by bike. Firstly I will need adequate clothing and the hospitality of friends and family to deal with the cold conditions of autumn in the northern hemisphere and night times in the desert. Then there will be the arid and hot desert-like conditions of Morocco, Mauritania, Angola and Namibia where dehydration and sunstroke may pose a problem. Heat and humidity in Equatorial Africa will also make riding unpleasant and heavy tropical downpours may render roads impassable.


Biking through Africa will provide a great opportunity to see some of the continent's spectacular wildlife first hand and this is one of the journey's aspects I am most looking forward too. However, there are some dangerous animals I will have to look out for including snakes, scorpions, rabid dogs and hopefully even the odd member of the big 5 in Southern Africa. Biting insects are likely to provide the biggest danger, not least because of the tropical diseases they transmit. The habits of Tumbu flies and jiggers / sand fleas, which set up home under the skin sound particularly unpleasant.

Tropical Disease

This is going to be one of the biggest threats to a successful cycle as Africa is blighted by a vast array of tropical diseases including malaria, bilharzia, giardia and river blindness to name a few. I will be taking all preventative measures available which unfortunately for anyone that comes across me en route will mean that I may not take the opportunity to wash in rivers and lakes.

Travelling through such a large number of countries inevitably means obtaining a large number of often expensive visa’s on route. This can often be a problematic and time-consuming process and I am bracing myself for some frustrating visits to foreign consulates and anxious waits in capital cities. However, with the help of friends, family and charity contacts on my side and dollars at the ready to line pockets I hope to be able to follow my desired route through Africa.

Human Dangers
Crime, mines and other road users are perhaps the biggest dangers on route. A vigilant approach, fake wallet, phone and passport combined with a grimy and crazed, travel-worn appearance should help to minimise the risk of crime, while I will ask permission to camp in villages when travelling through mine-ridden countries such as Mauritania and Angola. 

Bike Maintenance
Rugged conditions, a fully loaded frame and substantial distances will mean that the bike requires frequent repairs and maintenance. This could be particularly problematic when travelling through remote areas and unable to get spare parts. However, bikes are widely used in Africa and I’m sure there will be local mechanics who can provide innovative solutions to any bike issues. Fortunately Ride 24/7 in Cirencester and The Bristol Bike Project have taught me some essential maintenance skills for which I am truly grateful.

Staying well fed and watered will be essential to covering large distances everyday in the saddle. I will need to at least double my current calorific intake which may not be good news for African food shortages. The availability of water and food is not guaranteed and as such I will have to carry plenty of supplies on the bike and maximise fuelling opportunities as they arise (even road kill might make it on to the menu!). On the plus side this provides a fantastic opportunity to try the local cuisine and hone my fishing skills using the basic tackle I’ll have with me. 


Where Am I?


Triathlon Completion: Day 255 - Sat 12 June
-20,293km Rustenburg, SA

Click here for blog, videos, photos & GPS location

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