Day 102 was quite simply the best day of the expedition, so in a strange way the end itself was a highlight. The weather was beautiful, but for a brutal headwind, and we had to negotiate some great scenery on the last 150km as the main route into Cape Town is a motorway and tunnel unfit for cycling.
Happily adrenaline helped us cope with the headwind and before we knew it we had passed through the vineyards of the surrounding area and were entering Cape Town itself. As we arrived at Camps Bay almost the first thing we heard were the cheers of our supporters, and the first thing we saw was the Koga banner. The traffic had been stopped for our arrival and we were also treated to a display by some Zulu dancers – a touching and genuinely unexpected surprise.
One of the trustees of Azafady was also there, and he immediately gave us the great news that in the final few hours of our journey the fund total of donations had hit the £20,000 mark. What a great way for things to end – There was nothing else to do but to greet our friends and open the champagne – Which we most certainly did.
Day 101 had a strange feeling to it. Without illness we would already have been in Cape Town, but we didn’t have much time to dwell on that as we had breakfast with our newly-arrived friends Francesca and Marco, and then hit the road again. The same headwind which first bedevilled us in Norway seriously slowed us down again, and at points we were down to 10km/h. But any exhaustion and demoralisation was lifted by the unexpected appearance of Steve’s mother, girlfiend, and several other friends, which was a very real sign that we were within touching distance of the finishing line.
We were also joined by cameraman Grant, and our friend nick, who drove as they shot some more footage. As the day wore on the wind abated and the scenery grew ever more beautiful and we finished up in Worcester after some easy downhill riding.
So here we are, Day 102, on the last 100km, approaching Cape Town, and with donations sitting at £19,076.91 and rising. We will check in again as soon as we’ve regrouped in Camps Bay, Cape Town, so please keep donating and let’s make it a round £20,000!
It’s a pattern, another amazing day. So tough, so hard, such difficulties, but here we are. Today, as if to confirm that every inch we cover is worthwhile, we got word that Black Rock Solutions have donated £1000 directly to the only place we want any donation to go: Azafady. That alone was enough to give us the energy to power on and get to where we wanted to be – 400km from Cape Town. Yes, that’s how close we are.
And with every success comes the following morning – We started well again, but then came the headwind. Seriously, don’t the world’s elements understand how close we are to the end?! Well, we know how to respond to the elements now after so very many days at their mercy – we confront them and we push on regardless. The result of our defiance was that when we got to bed we had covered another 193km, leaving us only 300km left to the final desitation, the whole point, everything we have been working towards for the past days, weeks and months.
If you have followed us, if you have spent time reading any of this, if you care a jot for the children we are doing this for, please, donate:
So here we are, the final leg of the journey that kicked off so many weeks and months ago on a misty morning in northern Norway. We crossed over into South Africa on Saturday with very little fuss or delay, and with the wind at our backs made fantastic progress throughout the day and into the night to make up as much time as we could. As we searched for somewhere to sleep we came across Matt, a South African pig farmer. As has happened so often on this wonderful expedition, this total stranger invited us to his house and gave us all the hospitality you could wish for.
And we are still breaking records, even our own. Yesterday saw us achieve more in one day than we have at any stage of the journey so far – maybe we’re getting stronger the farther we go. We covered 264km in a single day! It didn’t start in the best of circumstances as we were woken at 6am by loud heavy metal music, but it acted as an alarm call of sorts, so we just hit the road, giving Matt our most heartfelt thanks and some advice on volume control.
The wind was fine, the roads were good, and suddenly we had done 200km in just 7 hours, which was unheard of progress in such a short time. However, the last 64km were a struggle, as if to remind us that nothing is ever easy from start to finish. We hit a terrible headwind which slowed us right down, but we reached our target of the town of Kimberly late in the evening, exhausted but very satisfied with our record-breaking progress.
And so Cape Town gets ever closer, so many days spent on the road in so many countries and now every sign we pass mentions our final destiation – Cape Town, Cape Town, Cape Town. Yesterday was a tough one with the same strong headwind still working against us, so progress was slow. After several days of success this was hard going and fatigue set in good and proper. Anyone who has been following our progress will know how fast our fortunes can change from one day to the next, so it was almost funny to find ourselves crawling along as such a slow pace, without an ounce of reserve energy in our tanks after our recent sucesses. We wanted with every fibre of our being to carry on as far as possible despite the driving wind, but eventually on reaching Britstown we called it a day and collapsed in a heap. Exhausted, but satisfied at having giving everything we could to maintain our rate of progress.
Small things keep us going. we heard today that our friend Marco has frown from Hong Kong to be there to welcome us in Cape Town later this week. Francesca has already arrived in Cape Town from Italy. We will see them this week. Nobody will ever know how much it means to hear about such gestures of support and affection, you guys have been all the fuel we need.
With only 5 days to go we have been pushing ourselves incredibly hard recently. We’ve been hitting huge distances every day, and I tyhink surprising the locals with the amount of food we are taking on board. They must wonder where these two skinny guys are putting it all!
Conditions have been pretty good since we entered Botswana, but we still have to beware of cumulative fatigue which is bound to be a danger at this stage – We’ve been skirting the Kalahari Desert in 40 degree heat, and you don’t cycle 15,000km without paying for it in one way or another. However recent research has scientifically proven that charitable donations are a powerful antidote to fatigue, so keep them coming and delve deep for these last few days!
There have been a few inspirational stories to emerge during our trip, and as we approached Gabarone on Friday we unearthed another one. We were getting supplies at a local supermarket when we were approached by a local guy who insisted we meet a friend of his who worked in a local bike shop, who was involved with the Buffalo Bikes project. They import bikes donated from across the USA and are now building their own design to help locals get around reliably and safely in what are very tough conditions for cycling. Please take a few minutes to read more about this amazing initiative:
As you might expect, Paul was tremendously generous as well as inspiring. Having paid for a welcome dinner for us, he accomodated us at his house and insisted on taking us to a nearby reserve the following morning where we saw another host of amazing wildlife, from springbocks to hyenas. And he wasn’t finished there – He then took us to the bike shop and offered us anything we needed, for free. There were a couple of spares we needed for our water-pump, so he insisted we take a brand new one away with us. Having then seen to some niggles with each of our bikes we parted company, sad to have to leave our new friend, but so grateful to have met him and learned about such a great initiative as the Buffalo Bikes project.
Having taken some time to view the incredible Victoria Falls we left Livingstone fully stocked up and looking forward to the next few days riding. Based on information we’d been given overnight we went straight into Botswana rather than going through Zimbabwe – Not for any political or security reasons, but because of what we had heard about Botswana itself, and the irresistable draw of adventure. We had heard great things about both the wildlife and the remote and sparse ladndscape, so we headed for the North of the country into Chobe National Park.
We’ve had occassional difficulties with border crossings during our expedition, but obviously the Gods of Akward Border Guards have had their fun, as this time it was as easy as buying a London Underground ticket. With that, we crossed the Zambezi (the true border between Zambia and Botswana), and hit the road.
We have made some difficult decisions on this trip, but the one when we decided to divert through Chobe National Park may have been the best we ever make. The experience has been wonderful. There is the wildlife: from baboons to springbox to elephants and everything in between. There is the progress we’re making – 100km, 200km, 220km.. There is the landscape: Words can’t do it justice. And there is the space. The space has to be experiencesd to be understood. For literally 200km we saw not a single human being, and passed no buildings, no petrol station, nothing. It’s like cycling on the moon. Apart from the ocassional elephant, obviously. At one point we recorded having rode for 80km without having made a perceptible turn left or right. The space and scale of this country is simply amazing. If you zoom in, our satellite tracker can give you some sense of this when you see contoured images of the flat terrain and the straightness of the roads.
So now we find ourselves, happy, healthy, and satisfyingly exhausted, in a small town called Tonota, having pushed on a little further than we had intended – We had been so well supplied today that we were able to stay hydrated for longer than usual, so made the most of it. There’s no such thing as an easy 220km ride, but this is as close as anyone will ever come. And if today’s beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife, and perfect cycling conditions weren’t enough, the ecstatic reception we received when we got here made it worthwhile all over again. You know we said there is nobody around for hundreds of miles here? – Turns out visitors are quite rare…