the 3 brave souls

Cycling 3,000 kms across Africa

From the coast of Mozambique to the coast of Namibia three friends, tri-athletes and ironmen are cycling their way from the coast of Mozambique, over the Chimanimani Mountains which form the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe and on to the coast of Namibia. They’ll cycle across Zimbabwe to the tip of the teapot near Victoria Falls and into Namibia via the Caprivi Strip. When the sand gets too deep they will continue on foot until they reach the coast.

I am writing as if this is something that is going to happen in the future, but in fact they are already into Namibia and going strong…

Mike Gray, Jeremy Hubert and Tim Skinner, are the cycle / hike team and they will be ably supported by a back-up team of one through Mozambique and Zimbabwe and 2 once they get into Namibia – National Park rules: cyclists must have one car infront of them and one behind.

The objective is to travel predominantly by MTB (as much as possible off-road and on single tracks). Only once they reach the desert section between Orupembe and Angra Fria on the Namibian Coast will they give up the bikes and continue on foot. The total distance is just on 3000 km and the challenge is to complete the crossing in 30 days.

Africa coast to coast at 18 degrees

Pre-planning suggested that 100 kms a day would ensure that the trip was completed within the expected 30 days, but there were bound to be a number of “low milage” days – such as the hiking sections and some particularly sandy stretches along the route as well as mountains and escarpments, so that the few days that were going to incorporate cycling on tar roads would need to see 2 – 300 kms achieved.

The single most important rule is that absolutely no forward travel along the route can be undertaken other than under their own power (i.e. either on bike or hiking).

“The route”, they say, “will take us through some of the most spectacular areas of Africa. From coastal flood plain, to tropical forest, up mountains, through the Zimbabwean bush and rural areas to Victoria Fall, where we briefly enter the Chobe National Park. Then on into Namibia along the Caprivi Strip, north west  to the arid semi desert along the Kunene escarpment. From there we turn south west and make our way over the dry rugged terrain of Van Zyl’s Pass across the Marianfluss towards Orupembe. From Orupembe we enter the desert “real” and hike the remaining 77 km to an isolated point on the Atlantic coast at Angra Fria.”

Day 1 of across Africa

By day 3 they were out of Mozambique and over the mountains into Zimbabwe. After 9 days of riding they had passed the first 1,000 km hurdle – ahead of schedule despite difficult terrain, breakdowns and adventures.

By day 15, and having negotiated Chobe National Park and lots of elephant, they were into Namibia. “Bottoms are a little sore, but the spirits are high. The talk now is how we’ll accomplish the final stage to get to the sea on the Skeleton Coast.  Captain Tim is slowly gaining respect and authority – he is using Oreos as a way of manipulating us and gaining command. We now listen to him hoping we’ll get one.” 😀

There was a lot of riding on tar when they first got into Namibia which was very hard on the butt. Road riding at speed hour after hour day after day on a MB would not be their first choice, but going through National Parks and through the Caprivi Stip it was necessary to abide by the Park rules… for obvious reasons:

road signs in Namibia

3 days on tar were beginning to take their toll. The team looked forward to dirt tracks with enthusiasm.

Their last blog was on the 20th April.

“Tonight we are on the banks of the Okavango River – loud hippos, hot showers and Zesa. We’ll recoup tomorrow – service bikes, wash kit and let our bottoms take a rest. Speaking of bottoms they are all in good shape – meths, antibiotic creams and any other old fashioned remedies are keeping then in good shape.  The team is clicking well – at night the camp emerges as everyone slips into there found roles; and the same in the morning – camp dissolves as the sun rises.

We’ll make Rucana by Wednesday – that’ll give us 6 days for 300 odd km and then 50km or so to walk to the coast. So the likelihood of getting this mission done in 30 days is still possible…”

If you would like to read all about it, please follow the link to Africa Coast to Coast on 18 degrees. It’s worth it. Great photos, very interesting observations, an epic journey. And why are they doing this, apart from the fantastic adventure? They are raising money for Kidzcan – Children’s cancer relief.

You too can donate if you wish… just follow the above links and thank you.

The end of the trip is near and their view of the ocean will look like this…

the coast at Namibia

Now isn’t that a site for sore eyes!


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