Casablanca is a city of contrast. Extreme wealth sits alongside devastating poverty. I spent almost two weeks here after cycling 4000 miles from the Arctic to Africa.
Many of you won’t know this, but when I decided to cycle from the Arctic to Africa I didn’t own a bike. I signed up to a trip that involved cycling 4000 miles and the most cycling I had done was to the local shops and back and the last time I had done that was easily 4 years prior. I certainly had never ridden a bike with drop handle bars and I had never tackled anything remotely challenging on a bike.
Some people said I was naive, some mental, others said I just flat out couldn’t do it. To be honest I thought I was just downright stupid. The whole idea of cycling from the Arctic to Africa just seemed ridiculous. I don’t think my brain could actually comprehend what it meant to cycle that kind of distance in such a short time. Despite all this, I just knew it was something I was meant to do.
Fast forward two and a bit months and I’m back home. I expected to return and never want to see my bike again. I even remember saying before I left that I would most likely sell my bike when I got back. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would come home and be itching to get straight back on the road. I didn’t even wait a week before going for a ride and I’ve been out four times already since. I’ve been researching local clubs, new routes, national sportive events and I’ve discovered this whole new world of cycling that I never knew existed and I’m loving it.
On Sunday I went out for my first group ride. The Breeze Network is associated with British Cycling and they are dedicated to getting more women out on their bikes. It sounded much more friendly and approachable then turning up to a local club ride and being greeted by 15 men all clad in Lycra waiting to pound the tarmac for 4 hours on a Sunday morning. At least I knew Breeze would go a pace I could handle and that I wouldn’t have to worry about slowing the group down or being left behind.
The distance was much shorter then I’m used to and I’ve found that now I’m riding without any luggage I’m averaging a fast pace. So the ride turned out to be a little easier then I expected but I still had a lovely time meeting other ladies who enjoy getting out on their bikes and its always more fun riding in a group no matter what pace you go. I’ve signed up for the next organised Breeze ride in a few weeks time and I’m already looking forward to it. In the mean time I have to admit I’m tempted to tackle a club ride, just to see how I fair against the boys in Lycra, I might actually do alright.
My adventure has now sadly come to an end and I would like to start this update by saying a massive thank you to every single one of you who has read my blog, prayed for me or given financially. I could not have completed the cycling without your on going encouragement and support.
As a team we have currently raised £6,900 ($10,700) for the children of Santrokofi Ghana and there are more donations still coming in everyday. I cycled approximately 4000 miles (6400km) in 56 days averaging roughly 90 miles (145km) a day. My bike had one broken spoke and a new rear wheel but didn’t have a single puncture the entire trip!
My team mates Ash, Chris and Tom alongside Raising Hope Foundation Chairwoman Kinza Mason cycled in to Santrokofi Ghana yesterday to a crowd of cheering children with party poppers and banners welcoming them to their community. They will now spend two weeks running a summer school for the children. I am so proud of what the guys have achieved and they are going to have a wonderful time teaching the kids. My finances just couldn’t stretch as far as Ghana so for now I look forward to hearing all about the summer school and I hope I will make it to Santrokofi another time.
In the meantime I have more stories from my time cycling from the Arctic to Africa and plenty of cycling tips and tricks that I would like to share on my blog. So check back regularly.
I’ve put together a short video of myself and the team cycling the first few days of the Arctic to Africa trip. The video includes cycling the first 20 miles up to the Nordkapp. The most stunning scenery I think of the entire trip.
You can still show your support by donating towards the Raising Hope Foundation and help them finish an orphanage in Ghana.
We had a rest day in Barcelona a few weeks ago. I enjoyed getting lost in the Gothic Quarter, stumbling across the famous Gaudi buildings and eating paella. One of my favourite city’s of the trip.
I’m writing this on the ferry crossing over to Africa. I can’t quite describe how I feel. I am excited to be going to another continent, exhausted from all the cycling, amazed at what I have achieved and apprehensive about entering Morocco in cycling shorts as a female.
I can’t quite believe that I can say that I have cycled from the Arctic to Africa. 5 months ago when I started thinking about taking part on this trip I thought I was nuts. I didn’t tell many people to begin with because I knew others would tell me I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even own a bike at the time and I wouldn’t exactly say I was in good shape to be signing up for such a challenge.
I am now only three days away from Casablanca, my end destination. I have no idea what to expect when I get off the ferry and I have no idea how I will feel when the cycling is finally over. To be honest I’m not sure what I am going to do with my time, I’m so used to waking up every morning and getting on a bike.
Written on the 21st July 2013.
From Barcelona to Gibraltar is approximately 750 miles and we have just cycled it in nine days straight. The weather has been an average of 32°c and the terrain has been spectacular although deceptively hilly. It has been my hardest stretch of cycling on this entire trip.
What I didn’t realise when we left Barcelona was just how close we would be cycling to the Sierra Nevada mountains. We were trying to hug the coast as much as possible to make the most of the cool sea breeze and the flatter terrain. However once we reached day 4 out of 9 our chosen route started taking us inland and up and over so rather large hills. We soon lost the refreshing wind blowing in from the coast and it became insufferably hot. Standing still was excruciating, cycling felt like having a hair dryer blowing in your face. Going up hill was slow and never ending. All I could see for miles in front of me, to the left and to the right was more hills, the roads were long and open with no trees and no shade. The sweat literally pouring off of me, my hands so sweaty that holding on to the handle bars was becoming more and more difficult. I lost all concept of distance and it felt as though I was in the middle of nowhere when in reality I was only 15km from the nearest town. At one point I almost ran out of water and started seriously panicking. At this point I didn’t have the option of jumping on a train to the next rest day location, I had no choice but to keep peddling. The only way I was going to make it to the next town was to cycle. Fortunately what takes over an hour to cycle up takes mere minutes to cycle back down the other side. The ride downhill is exhilarating! Getting up to speeds of 42mph on roads with hair pin bends, breath taking views and the knowledge that at the bottom is probably a petrol station fully stocked with water and ice cream.
I’ve made it to Gibraltar but I still have Morocco to tackle. Starting tomorrow morning I begin the last leg and step foot on African soil.
Here are some pictures so you can see what I’ve been cycling through the last 9 days.