Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Bicycle Ride To Africa: Part One

I never thought much of road cycling as an adolescent, especially cycle touring. For me, bikes were all about going as hard and high as possible; so (at the time) saddling up and riding tarmac for a month seemed like an irrefutably bad idea.

Fast forward four years and I’m in my final term of university weighing up what to do with my final months of freedom. Being in a rather undesirable financial situation, the chances of reaching exotic shores were looking fairly bleak. However, on a rather uneventful Thursday I decided to phone my good friend Edward to chat about grape picking and generally slumming it around Languedoc-Rousillon. I can’t quite remember when the idea came about that we would cycle to Morocco, but that’s what we decided to do anyway.

Two weeks later, after recruiting Jack, a strangely enthusiastic, egg-like creature to join us, we decided that we couldn’t afford anything other than three old, beaten-up road bikes to act as our trusted steeds for our pilgrimage. I figured that my dad's Raleigh Record Ace from his twenties would probably do the job, as it had served him well for the past hundred or so years.

As I dragged its rusty carcass into the Pearson Pro Shop, I seem to remember Guy remarking with a cackle: ‘cast that back into the pond from whence it came’… I decided to elide this comment; and it’s lucky I did, as when giving my steed some TLC this is what I found:

Now if that isn’t a piece of Pearson heritage, I don’t know what is.

The morning of our departure soon arrived, passed and before we knew it we had missed two ferries. It was not until this point that I realised our idealistic plan was riddled with flaws… Our maps were without route and almost as old as our bikes and my companions seemed more interested in Dadaist theories on the constriction of art and ‘sit down meals’ than sleeping rough on the road to Morocco.

None-the-less, that evening we rolled onto our ferry and waved goodbye to England under a blazing Portsmouth sunset.

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