On making it home from my tour across Europe (France, Switzerland and a bit of Italy) the next part of my challenge awaited. After a month or two, the realization that I now needed to start thinking about how I was going to get myself across Africa began to kick in. It was a pretty daunting thought for a new cycle tourer but the more I chatted to people who had done such things, and then some, the more I felt confident I could do it. I would go as light as possible and would have 2 months to pedal my way from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, S.A – approximately 6,000 km.
I initially thought about doing it solo but, having struggled at times with the lack of company on the Europe trip, I decided I should probably consider doing it with someone else. My quest to find a travel companion began.
I was really lucky to have so much advice early on in my planning, I managed to get along to a few Adventure Syndicate events, chatted to a few folk who had done some amazing trips, and read a lot too . Initially I mentioned my plan to Ishbel, aka World Bike Girl, to see if she might know anyone who’d like to come along. I reckoned one of her followers might fancy a challenge so I sent a quick message on facebook to see. As luck would have it she said she would like to come along for the ride but, after a few months cycling in Brazil, Ishbel had rescued two incredibly cute dogs there – Maria and Murphy and had a book deal. It turned out she would be tied up over there for some time and wouldn’t make it. So, back to the drawing board I went.
My quest continued to find a cycle buddy and I had remembered following the stories of Anna Kitlar who had cycled from Hong Kong to Greece. Her insta / facebook name is @bikexploring so I thought she might know at least one person crazy enough to come along. Turns out she wasn’t busy in March / April either and so she could come along! Love it when a plan comes together!
Me – small bike. Anna – slightly larger bike 🙂
I skyped Anna a few times, plotted a rough route thanks to Gary (longbikeride.co.uk) who happens to live up the road from me, booked the cheapest flights with Sarah Watts (www.notjusttravel.co.uk), got some kit together, packed the bike at my local bike shop – Pewsey Velo – and off I went. I found my new cycle buddy, Anna, at Dubai airport and we made our way on our connecting flights to our starting point – Nairobi, Kenya.
We were tired but super excited to be setting out together. We set about building our bikes and getting to know each other at Richie’s flat in Nairobi. Richie was a friend of a friend and really helped us out. Anna was a professional mountain bike guide working every summer in Greece, bikepacking in between times and had never toured with anyone before. I, on the other hand, had never ever been bikepacking before and had only taken ownership of my secondhand Orange P7 mountain bike a few weeks earlier. How would we get along? We’d just need to start pedalling and find out.