The Tour D’Afrique is an annual race across Africa from North to South. I found it online by accident when I was looking for biking holidays in Africa and promised myself I would do it someday. Well, it was no holiday but it was the most intense, exhilarating and enriching experience. And it gave me material for my first book.
We cycled through history as we left Egypt at the start of the Arab Spring, came into Southern Sudan on the day that the referendum results to declare it as an independent country were announced, and crossed Northern Kenya during one of the worst droughts in memory.
We also cycled in beating sunshine, driving rain, thick mud, desert sands, and swarms of tsetse flies. Every day was longer than I thought it would be, either because my legs hurt and there was a headwind, or because something wonderful happened and time elasticated. Sometimes the days were horrific – cycling for 10 hours over corrugated sand ruts in 50 degree temperatures has left some permanent scars. And sometimes they were brilliant – whooping down mud slicks in Tanzania is hard to beat.
I was with 62 fellow competitors, who started off as strangers from a motley of nations and ended up being the TDA family. Above all, it is those relationships that made this adventure truly wonderful.
Quite frankly, I did not do enough training before I went. This meant that the first stage through Egypt was full of extreme suffering. I had mountain biked regularly over the hills of the Peak District which meant I was nice and strong but I hadn't done enough distance. If you are thinking of competing, get the miles in your legs and get used to doing it day after day. That will stand you in very good stead.
Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure
Timbuktu - "the furtherest place on earth." My quest was to travel from Tangier, the gateway to Europe, to the legendary city of Timbuktu following the ancient salt roads. I went with a film crew from Tern TV, to make a series for BBC2. We followed in the footsteps of the medieval trans-Saharan traders, who braved the dangers of the desert with their cargoes of gold, salt and slaves. The book of the series, Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure, is available in paperback and on kindle from Amazon.More
Atlas to Atlantic
The Atlas to Atlantic Trek was a world first. My expedition partner, Rachid Aitelmahjoub, and I walked from the top of Mount Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa, straight across the Atlas mountains to the Atlantic ocean. It took 12 days, sometimes walking from dawn, through sunset and on into the small hours of the morning. We lived off the land, often relying on Berber hospitality in remote villages for our food and water. The trip was sponsored by www.epicmorocco.co.ukMore
Marathon Des Sables
The Marathon Des Sables is called the Toughest Footrace on earth. It is 156 miles across the sands and takes place annually in early April. There are around 1100 competitors from all over the world. And in 2014, I was lucky enough to be one of them.