Beyond the Bike

Stories from Stuart and Claire's original & recent journeys….

Ubernomics and Income Inequality in South Africa…

Tonderai & mate

When an unemployed teacher can rationally afford a taxi ride to Sunday lunch and the driver’s main job is as General Manager of the Coca Cola factory in Cape Town, economists’ alarm bells should start ringing. Welcome to the world of Uber. The said unemployed (economics) teacher took some time off ferrying Africans down their continent on his tandem and took advantage of the Rand’s weakness to enjoy a few motorised rides around the Cape…


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Triple deficits and Economic Crises in Zambia

Triple deficits and Economic Crises in Zambia
currency chart

Kwacha on the run….

I concluded my last blog suggesting that this week I’d be exploring the role of China in Africa using Zambia as a case study. However, my conversations since stepping off the MV Liemba, whether with roadside tomato sellers, farmers, mining executives or indeed Chinese businessmen, haven’t strayed far from the currency. The Kwacha value against the dollar has halved in the last 2 years, with the majority of the depreciation coming in the last 6 months (chart below). And when an economist with more than 40 years experience in Zambia tells you that the underlying economic crisis, caused by a perfect storm of three deficits, is shaping up to be the worst he can remember, the Chinese blog can wait…

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Stage 1: Kampala to Kigali -Taking Khalid Home.

IMG 2744

Kampala (Uganda) to Kigali (Rwanda): 552km; September 13th - 19th.

On Sunday 13th September, we left Kampala accompanied by the KGB (Kampala Group of Bikers), Kasoma (bamboo bike maker) and  his apprentice Khalid. It was such a pleasure to finally meet Kasoma and for him to see his beautiful bike being ridden through Kampala.  Leaving the city was not the nicest ride, mainly due to the sheer number of heavy trucks but we were soon on the open road which undulated wonderfully through the countryside, every hill we went up we then had a similar length descent and thus a rest: my kind of hills!

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Stage 15: From Tuscany to a Car Park in East London...

Siena to Stratford, May 5th – 18th, 1250km
People talk of false starts. I’ve never heard of a ‘false-finish’ but I was searching for the equivalent word on May 18th. On that grey spring day, I found myself unexpectedly cycling an African made bamboo bike with 150 other cyclists within a couple of miles of my old workplace in Canary Wharf, the first time on English soil for exactly 10 months...

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Stage 14: The beginning of the end - Cycling the Slam on a bamboo bike...

Olympia, Greece to Siena, Italy. 1350km April 23rd - May 4th

My beloved Thandie has done herself proud over the last 9 months, managing to carry me & some 150 stokers 11,000 kilometres through Africa & the Middle East. But the prospect of doing more than 1300km, with over 10,000m of climbing in 10 days on a 30kg steel bike didn’t appeal. This made the decision to dump her for a lighter, younger & better looking model all the easier…

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Stage 12: Operation Carry Ben Collins…

Luxor to Hurgarda, 290km March 19-21st

I have endured some tough physical challenges on the journey so far: the hills & dirt roads of Kenya, the heat in South Sudan & headwind in the Nubian desert. But when Ben Collins, founder of Beyond Ourselves, announced that he would be joining me for a few days in Egypt, I knew I’d need all the strength & support I could find….

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