I quit my job – that I liked – to cycle across Africa. Here’s why:
- Cycling is a way of traveling that allows you to absorb the environment to a higher extent. Your surroundings impact you directly, and invite you to embrace the path in all its details. From the hypnotizing sound of rubber on the road below and the ever changing landscapes along endless winding roads, to the buildup of lactic acid in your upper legs when the road becomes hilly: you are part of the road.
I feel there is no intenser way of traveling than cycling. Not just while you’re on the road, also the places you visit become more intense because of the road traveled before arrival.
- Secondly, cycling is a great way to meet people. Arriving somewhere on a bicycle that is visibly prepared to go a long way, attracts people’s attention and gets conversations started. Whether you cycle to a small village or to a larger town, when you arrive with a tent strapped to the luggage rack of your bike chances are that someone will come up to you and ask where you have come from, and where you are heading.
- Cycling can be done in different places, and each route is special. Africa offers some unique opportunities in that respect. In fact it is so large and diverse that it has endless unique features. From desert roads in Western Sahara, to tropical rain showers in Kinshasa, until the mountainbike trails that go up Table Mountain (Cape Town): the variety of terrain and landscape is endless.
- Africa will also present difficulties at times. The roads are not always fit for cycling, the weather can be unforgiving, and some areas are isolated. However, this also means that what I love about cycling will be even more present. Being a part of the road is more overwhelming when the road gets bumpy. Also, it will make me more reliant on other people, and therefore more open to spontaneous encounters. This is what I look forward to the most, meeting people and learning their stories.
Why supporting WoMena & Blik op Afrika?
- To put it bluntly: I am honored to be able to dedicate what is essentially a personal discovery to people who strive to help others. The people at WoMena and Blik op Afrika do amazing things in their respective fields. I do not consider myself to be on their level at all, but I hope I can contribute to what they are doing by helping them increase their visibility, and by creating awareness of their activities. I hope the excitement of the adventure that I will embark on will have positive spillovers on them.
10 years in the making
- The idea of “cycling across Africa” came about in 2008, on a drizzly day in Leuven. David* and I were both studying economics at the time, and we immediately became friends through our shared love for cycling. On that rainy day, we dicided to skip class and go to one of the student bars that offered beers at €0.45. After a few rounds we agreed that we should take our cycling trip of that summer – across France – to another level as soon as we had saved enough to finance a gap year. Africa came up as the ultimate destination, and as the years went by the dream stayed alive. If everything goes well, I will arrive in Cape Town more or less 10 years after that drizzly day.
- Life doesn’t stand still, and in the meantime David has fallen in love and he has moved overseas. After a long skype session last year, he agreed to join me from Libreville (Gabon) to Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania). I am really looking forward to cycling with him again: #dreamteam.
- I will be joined by friends and family along the way, and cycle some parts by myself. I’m still working on the “who will join where” puzzle. Little by little everything’s falling into place.
*David is not his real name, David’s employer is not aware of his plans …