My family has always been into bicycling. I can honestly tell my daughter when she asks for an Audi on her 16th birthday that I rode my bike to school 5 miles each way in rain, snow, and hail, every day until I graduated. It wasn’t actually uphill both ways, but it felt like it. When I was a teen, my parents rode their bicycles from Bellingham, Washington to San Francisco with a group of friends. A few years later, they did a cross Canada trip from Victoria to Newfoundland with my younger sister. They invited me to join them on that trip, but at the time I was enjoying motorcycling, and couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to pedal a bike that far if they didn’t have to. It seemed a little too Forrest Gump to me. Now I regret that I didn’t spend that time with my family, bonding over a gruelling challenge. I admit to feeling a little left out when they reminisce about it.
Share The Adventure
I recently heard about the trip a family friend took a few years ago, and it blew my mind. A four month long bicycle trip from Cairo to Cape Town. She rode 7,500 miles through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. It wasn’t a cheap trip, about $14,000 US plus the airfare to get over there and back. It had to be absolutely life changing sharing this adventure with about 50 other riders. http://tourdafrique.com/
I’ve travelled all over North and Central America, New Zealand, and Europe on a motorcycle and I’ve always described seeing the world from a motorcycle as an IMAX experience. If motorcycle travel is raw and intense, then it’s fair to describe bicycle travel as a slap to the senses. Traveling along rough roads, slowly enough to taste everything you smell, this trip is a test of endurance, not only physically, but mentally as well.
The Roads Less Traveled
A support team including a great chef and a mechanic, makes the experience safe and comfortable. That doesn’t diminish the fact that it is an adventure. The four months are spent sleeping in tents in some of the most remote areas of the world. Riders are almost guaranteed to suffer from intestinal distress at some point in the journey, and they have to keep moving. Like a strange tribe of nomads, this group of about 50 cyclists will cover on average 125 km a day and arrive at a new campsite to set up their own tents while the chef prepares a hearty meal.
In an interesting reversal, the tourists become the spectacle, and locals will come out to stare in wonder at the parade of bicycles as they pass by. If you’re lucky, all they do is stare, wave, shout greetings. The children along the route can be a handful, and it’s not uncommon for them to chuck rocks at riders. In some places, the tour hires a police escort. There are challenges every day, and no section of the ride is a cake walk. One section is described by a guide as “ass pounding corrugation”, a description that needs no further explanation.
Elizabeth Evans Lau is a world traveler and mother to a beautiful toddler. She loves sharing stories of her adventures on land and sea. Elizabeth is helping her daughter learn Wolof, Italian & French.
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