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> End of the Road

Wednesday, 21 July 2010 - 11:00

Cruising at altitude over Africa with a cold beer in hand and the latest movie playing on my console, I really began to appreciate why fans chose to fly to the World Cup rather than swim, cycle and run. Not only does it merely take 16 effortless hours (much less if you’re not a cheapskate flying via Doha), which makes the psychological blow of England’s inevitable early departure less fatal, but you are also unlikely to lose your job, be left forever in your girlfriend’s debt (a more dangerous place to be in than anywhere in Africa), question whether you still have the ability to have kids, or develop a range of roadside habits that will ostracise you from civilised society. Fortunately I have very supportive family and friends who, on my return, kindly donned sympathetic ginger beards at a surprise party to help me deal with the readjustment process. Filling the hollow feeling in my gut left by the end of the World Cup and culmination of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure may not be so easy, although training for this year’s national mince-pie eating contest seems to present the perfect solution!.


I’ve summarised the contrast between my outward and return journey to SA 2010 below:



Outward Journey


Return Journey


255 Days

16 hours


20,293 km Cycling

14,000km Seated


25 km Swimming

1 Face Splash


89km Running

20m walk to toilet

Physical Effects:

Sleep deprivation



Numb bum


Sleep deprivation



Numb bum



Camel, porcupine, crocodile, rodent….

Chicken tikka biryani, omelette, chocolate mousse...


Warm chlorine flavoured Water

Cold beer


Sahara desert

Tropical rainforests


Latest films

Colourful seat rest



Alarmed monkeys

Angry elephant

Hungry lions

Obese primate with snoring disorder

Infant primate with ADHD

High Point:

Warmth and generosity of local communities

Air stewardess reaching across my lap

Low Point:

Running out of water and malt loaf in the Congo

Discovering my neighbour for the next 16 hours had chronic B.O.






In the last year I have been privileged to witness more landscapes and wildlife, experience more cultures and emotions, and been on the receiving end of more human warmth and generosity than I am likely to do in the rest of my life. I have far too many tales and adventures to possibly put into words now, so you’ll have to wait for the best selling book (!?!?). Special thanks to everyone who has shared this truly incredible experience with me - without your support and following I might never have got to see the wonderfully hosted World Cup in South Africa, or experienced having a vuvuzela blown in my ear! Attending a dramatic and atmospheric final last Sunday provided the perfect climax to an unforgettable adventure. I hope this trip also serves to inspire others to hop on their bicycles and explore the beautiful world that lies on our doorsteps (sorry, it felt like the moment for a cheesy sign off!).


Tri4africa may have reached the end of the road but its legacy will live on thanks to the incredible generosity shown by family, friends, businesses and even strangers in making donations to the charity Re-cycle. The trip was entirely self funded, with all donations going to Re-cycle to help with the collection and shipment of old bicycles from the UK and establishment of new partner projects in Africa (some of the proceeds have already been used to establish a project I visited in Ghana


Exceeding our wildest expectations, we have currently raised a phenomenal £23,000 thanks to your generous donations. A great deal of the credit for raising so much money must go to the fantastic support team behind the scenes - Helen, Joe, Nick and my folks who did an incredible job in managing the website. I can’t possible express how grateful I am to you.


Massive thanks to the many friends I made along the way, particularly those who overlooked my feral appearance and kindly invited me into their homes - please stay in touch. Thanks also to those that joined me and Bertha (my bike) on the road at various times – my three maxi- biscuit loving French amigos Romane, Gui and Mariamme (please send me your email addresses), long time tourer Hans, my Coke-addicted Brazilian friend Leo and of course my long suffering girlfriend Helen who gamely came out to share life on the road with me in an extremely ripe, romance killing, 1 man tent. Thanks also to Harry & Mike who yelled much needed encouragement from the support boat throughout the swim - I hope you’ve regained your voices.


Now all that’s left to do is work out how to get to Brazil in 2014! Has anyone got a pedalo I can borrow?  


If in doubt pedal it out…


Comment Count: 1 Comments




Rob, what a fantastic vicarious experience it has been for Sue and me to follow your progress. Congratulations again on the unique achievement! I hope the Arsenal/Spurs contest next season will give us the same excitement. Cheers and hope to see you soon, Clem & Sue

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Where Am I?


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

Click here for blog, videos, photos & GPS location

Latest Press:
JustGiving "Fundraiser of the Month"

Latest Press Coverage

JustGiving [29/06/2010]
"Fundraiser of the Month"

Times LIVE [17/06/2010]
"The World Cup's most extreme fan"

ITV4 [12/06/2010]
"World Cup Countdown"
(FF to 16min 45sec in)

BBC Breakfast [05/06/2010]
"The incredible Rob Forbes"
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Inside the Travel Lab [05/06/2010]
"Swimming to South Africa"

The Sun Newspaper [27/05/2010]
"Fan swims to World Cup"

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