A few months ago we ran a story on an adventurer cycling home from London to KZN. We caught up with him in Zanzibar where he is currently nursing himself back to health after a bout of malaria.
Dedicated to his late mom who died at the age of 40, Calvin’s aim is to make it home by his 40th birthday. He’s lost 20kg in 4.5months and feels like he’s 21 again and nothing can stop him… well, except for the malaria that is currently keeping him in Zanzibar for a little longer than planned.
Rather than give you a blow-by-blow account of his incredible trip, we thought we’d quiz him on the highs and the lows experienced over the past few months since the trip began. For everything in between, go and check out his blog, www.calvinrideshome.co.za
Well there have been many but I will list my top three:
* Cycling the Blue Nile Gorge – That was a day never to forget… The total day trip was only 50km but when it takes 1hour to go down 20km and then 8hours to cycle back up 30km you get to see how great God’s earth really is… AMAZING.
* Cycling through the desert in Sudan – Killer hot desolate landscape and a tree line of palm trees to remind you that life without water is not worth living. The early mornings and late afternoon were the best with rich colours and textures amplifying the barren landscape. Breathtaking I tell you….
* Cycling with the wildlife in the Serengeti (Grumeti Reserve Sasakwa Lodge) – Late afternoon cycling with my cousin Tansy and good friend Martin to guide me through some of the best hot spots in the reserve. Water buck and giraffe darting across the road just metres away from us as we cycled at speed along the dirt roads. We were so close you could feel the energy from the animals as they ran in front of us. Priceless. You just don’t get that kind of thing happening every day…
Well again there have been a few but these are the top three:
* Crashing in Egypt was a make or break moment. I had set off for the day with a nice strong tail wind needed to cover 120km till the next town and started to crank the big gears. A truck full of kids going to school came racing past me at speed (I was doing about 35kmph at this stage) so I thought nothing of it when I looked down to grab my water bottle. As I looked back up he had come to a stop and I had less than 10m to grab the breaks and try to slow down. Too little to late… I hit the rear of the vehicle so hard that the impact snapped the frame in half. I was so lucky to get away with just a laceration to the inside of my thigh and lots of bruising all over my body. But the bike was totalled and at that stage contemplated ending the trip as a new bike was not in the budget. At great cost I managed to get a new frame shipped out to me from the UK, and managed to transfer the component from one frame to the other with very little issues.
* Traffic in Africa is generally unpredictable at the best of times and after surviving Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya I was of the opinion I was pretty good at reading the roads and their hazards. But I was mistaken big time. Tanzania from Moshi to Mombo was a day in hell. The roads have no shoulder and the buses and trucks mostly have bent chassis so the rear tends to crab along the road, which spells disaster for me. They are already very close when passing but the then the rear just slaps you off the road and that’s that. Wheel bent, punctures, snapped spokes and bent frames. Not to forget cuts, bruises and nerves that were shot to hell. This day I was driven off the road no less than three times and by the end I was destroyed and in tears. I just could not understand why people were so careless on the road and had so little respect and value for life….
* Malaria. Well it was going to happen. Whether you are on anti-malarial or not they will get you. Man down and boy it not fun. We need to do something about this killer in Africa and I hope that me raising funds for Malaria Consortium will assist in a small way.
The greatest surprise of this trip is how very doable it is to cycle through Africa. It’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, but growing up in South Africa for the first 21 years of my life you are always lead to believe that Africa is a dangerous place and travelling around is almost impossible. I have lived in London for 15 years and often on the flights home I would gaze out the window and wonder if I would ever get to really see Africa for real – on the ground meeting the people experiencing the culture tasting the food. I have always said I would do it before I am 40. Well I took the leap and I am now more than half way and what a trip it has been.
Calvin has self funded the entire trip and is raising money for the Malaria Consortium. To support Calvin in his quest to get home, head to www.calvinrideshome.co.za