The last time I blogged I was about to embark on a four-week cycling trip in Africa to join my husband on the Tour d’Afrique. Today, our adventure almost seems like a dream, but we continue to ponder all that we experienced and learned.
Overall, our trip was fabulous! The continent of Africa is filled with incredible scenery, amazing animals and interesting people. Tour d’Afrique organized the cycling trip, which included forty cyclists, ranging in age from 19 to 67 from all over the world and ten staff members.
My husband Doug travelled a total of 7,200 miles, from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa, MOST of those on his bike! He visited 11 countries in four months; the majority of his portion of the trip (three months) was in Third World countries, so his experience was quite different than mine. I met up with him in Livingstone, Zambia, and we spent the last month cycling together.
When I first arrived in Zambia, I was told by several of the staff that Doug was very excited for my arrival and had been busy preparing for me. Doug said he was ready to end his ride and come home, but my joining him actually helped him complete the trip. He told me he would never be away from me for three months again, as it was too long! He was my protector as we cycled, usually riding behind me to shield me from the traffic and make sure I didn’t lag behind. I am so proud of Doug for all he accomplished by riding 7,200 miles. Furthermore, he raised money for 100 bikes that were donated to health care workers and non-profit organizations that ministered to children throughout the continent.
In 32 days, I traveled a mere 2,200 miles in five countries! My cadence monitor (which doesn’t lie!) recorded me cycling 1,686 km, which equals 1,047.63 miles in 21 days, averaging 50 miles per day.
The first two weeks of cycling were on flat, paved roads. But, the last two weeks were more challenging than I had anticipated, due to predominantly off-road travel, which meant gravel, corrugation and some sand. Sometimes my whole body was ‘rattling’, including the brains inside my head! Add to that heat and flies, and that was when I did NOT like being on my bicycle. Hills and mountains were also part of the landscape. As hard as they were to climb, I was proud of myself for achieving it!
When we camped, which was only half the time, I felt spoiled. However, being a novice, I was relieved that it wasn’t as tough as I had anticipated. Amazingly, I learned that there is freedom in the absence of a mirror and make-up, a minimalistic lifestyle has its advantages, and I can get by just fine on far less than I think I need.
- Africa has BEAUTIFUL sunrises, sunsets and star-filled night skies. I was totally in awe of God’s workmanship!
- Seeing elephants a few hundred yards off the road while on our bikes.
- Singing songs while riding along the Elephant Highway in Botswana: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Hakuna Matata, Wide Open Spaces.
- Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
- Elephant Encounter, Zambia. We rode elephants for an hour and learned so much about these incredible animals!
- Riding horseback at The Royal Tree Lodge, Maun, Botswana. The ‘wild’ animals let you come close to them while you were on horses!
- Sossuvlei Sand Dunes. It was amazing and incredibly peaceful to watch the sun set and rise while on the dunes.
- Deadvlei Salt Pan next to the dune. A surreal place where trees are thought to be 500-700 years old.
- Favorite animal sightings were elephants, zebras and oryx on the side of the road and warthogs toddling around town.
- First night camping (bush camp), while we were in our tents falling asleep, we heard lions
roaring. It occurred to me: we weren’t at the zoo! I prayed, received immediate peace and was able to sleep. Meanwhile, the staff was making our group’s presence known to the lions and their roars became more distant.
- We were cycling and a truck driver stopped us and indicated he had seen a lion off of the road ahead of us. At that moment, our tour director drove up in his vehicle and followed us. Fortunately, we never saw the lion!
- The scariest moments were actually because of traffic. Two trucks traveling in opposite directions would fly by us on the roads, and we had to resort to riding on the shoulder.
- Looking at Table Mountain from the beach about 20 miles from our final cycling destination, knowing our goal was in sight. It was a thrill to cycle into Cape Town with the group to the V & A Waterfront with a cheering crowd, realizing I did … WE did it!
I would have never had the idea of or taken on this trip by myself! When my husband first mentioned it several years ago, I thought it was too huge for him, let alone me. Although planning, preparing
and training for this trip was time, energy, and mind/body-consuming, being our focus for the last year or so, it was so worth it! I have been blessed in so many ways (as a wife) being with my husband throughout this journey. Our marriage is stronger as a result of the shared experiences before and during the trip. What’s more, we now have MANY special memories to share!
I am grateful for the Lord’s protection, provision, and presence during our incredible adventure; grateful to my husband for enlarging my world, and thankful we shared this remarkable life experience together. We are so appreciative of the prayers, interest and support we received from friends and family before and during the trip.
So, what’s next? We don’t have specific plans at the present, but we do know we want to cycle together in other parts of the world. The journey continues! I’m so grateful that my husband “just wanted me to be with him”!