Today is 14 days since the four cyclists, two support crew, a jeep, and a ford ranger left Johannesburg with an ambulance escort and about thirty friends cycling some of day one of o71-
At the moment I’m lying in my hammock in a bush camp in the middle of Botswana (somewhere, 180km South of Kasane). A bush camp means that we have driven off the main, but quiet A3 highway that we’ve been cycling on for the last four days into an area that is off the road with no other infrastructure except what we bring with us. No power. No toilets. No running water.
The national parks in Botswana all have “Big 5” animals (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino) but they don’t have fences around the parks like most of the other parks in Southern Africa. Today from our bikes we saw five elephants just off the road. The area around our camp for the evening has broken branches and trees as well as about 2-day old elephant dung as they moved through this area recently. We also found lion tracks close to where we are camping. We set our tents up close to one another and made a fire in the middle so
The past fourteen days have been incredible and I currently have that strange feeling where I can’t believe how quickly the last two weeks have gone but it also feels like an age ago that we left the Jeep dealership, our friends, family, and press behind as we started our journey.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt since heading out on the Joburg2Kili adventure:
- Living in very close
proximity withsix people that were almost complete strangers at the start of this trip poses challenges. I’ve always said that the best way to get to know a person is to travel with them. As challenges arise, plans change, and the irritability scores start to soar, you quickly work out if your travel companions are the type of people that you want to spend your time with. If you decide to test that theory on a non-negotiable 10 week trip across one of the toughest continents on a bicycle with 6 strong willedpersonalities – shit is going to go down. At least once. With two heated conversations, one team meeting and a few whispers between some of the team, we are doing well, but I expect that there could be a few more in the future.
- Doesn’t matter how fit you are you’re going to hurt on some days. The single speed, 23-kilogram bicycles that we are riding aren’t made for over 100
kilometersper day, and there will be times that you feel uncomfortable and frustrated to the point of wanting to spit and cry a little bit. Despite some long, hard and tough days of riding being mindful of where I am and the entire experience, as well as the amazing places that we have spent overnightsmakes all the pain worthwhile.
- If you’re not a little bit afraid of your dreams you should probably reconsider them. When I was initially invited on this trip, I gave myself so many reasons that I wasn’t going to join. Africa is dangerous. I don’t have the time. I’ve already got plans to go back to Asia. And. And. And. “I will think about it and let you know next week”, I said to Warrick. The following evening
catchin up with some friends who asked what my plans were and I mentioned that I might be cycling from Johannesburg to Mount Kilimanjaro and just like that, my decision was made. It doesn’t mean that some of my fears weren’t still there, it just meant that now I had to face them. You don’t grow until you challenge yourself and go outside of your comfort zone.
- Doesn’t matter how much sunscreen you use, and we’ve been using a lot – you’re still going to get dodgy tan lines spending so long in cycle kit in the African sun each day.
- You’ll always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things that you did. Old. Cliche. Heard this shit a million times. I know. If I had been waving goodbye to a team cycling to Kili two weeks ago in Johannesburg, I wouldn’t be sipping an ice cold beer in a hammock surrounded by elephant shit and “strangers” that I know will be in my life forever.