Tell a friend you are going to cycle the length of Africa and their response will most likely range from planning your funeral to calling the closest mental hospital. In my case, three concerned friends actually called the CA embassy in Canada, Ethiopia and Sudan to question my decision making abilities. Apparently, after I pedaled through Pakistan and Iran in hijab they started to question my mental health. One friend said he would pay me to leave Africa asap. Another friend called my Dad who laughed and insisted that I wasn't acting anymore wacky than I have always been.
The authorities did find me about 40km into Ethiopia but I truly thought the officials were joking. After the officials at the Gedaref Checkpoint in Sudan grabbed my handlebars and demanded a bribe, I reacted to the officials of Ethiopia with my best “go on, get out of town, you are joking” face and cycled on.
This week I learned that WOW(WomenOnWheels) Jo Rust was mugged a while back in N. Angola of her bicycle. She was approached with machetes and lightened of everything, the crooks fortunately did not touch her. Not, that it stopped her much, with financial support from Angola, she picked up a motorcycle and continued her quest to circumnavigate Africa.
In a comment on twitter this week, some folks had never heard of a cycle tourist being robbed of their bicycle. Jo Rust and I both agreed and laughed that some how knowing about these worst case scenarios before hand helps in the planning. Would we change our minds and not go? Definitely not, because these incidents are rare and do not account for the 100's if not 1000's of bicycle travelers that come home with nothing but good news and fun photos.
Mom's out there stop reading and go comb your now graying hair!
I have a machine gun... so, give me your stuff
I left to cycle out of Cairo in a sandstorm, my instincts were kicking hard that it was time to go. With the help of an amazing tail wind I covered 200km plus a day cycling scared and fast through most of S Egypt. On the same road in a two week period I met 4 separate solo cyclists who were robbed. (Luxor to Aswan Nile and Desert rds).
The 'it is not safe, you must get in'
Africa Cycle (FB fanpage) -A truck insisted the road was not safe. He got in and was robbed of electronics. Fred returned to France bought all his gear back, flew to Capetown and cycled north instead of south. I camped with Fred in Malawi and he told me he will be flying home before he reaches Egypt. Fred is now cycling across Ethiopia.
Cut The Locks
During a loud thunderstorm while crossing the Stans, Kevin locked his bike to a fence. It it was cut free. The police went looking, apologized and found his bicycle. I met Kevin happy to be rolling on the KKH Pakistan.
The ol'e guest house trick.
I was robbed in a guest house in Tanzania. Peter Gostelow was as well in Kenya after spending 6 weeks recovering from a machete attack in the Big Africa Cycle. World Biking lost one of their two bikes in a guest house in Bolivia. Whether you lock your bike to the bed is up to you but whatever you do don't tell your mom you are a cycle tourist.
Special Note: Posted in memory of my mom who died of cancer 10 years ago today. I raise my glass high in her memory to all the gray hairs she said I gave her before she passed away. In spirit, I am sure she is proud to know that I am indeed a cycle tourist.