Beyond the Bike

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

Stage 13: From Red to Dead & Rising again…

Dahab to Tel Aviv, 1st -18th April,  990km

The route for this stage would take me along the northern most part of the Great Rift Valley from the Red to the Dead Sea and north along the Jordan Valley. Named as such for geological reasons by the 19th Century British explorer John Walter Gregory, it has also sadly marked somewhat of a political & religious rift through the ages. What better time to visit than during the Jewish Passover & Christian Easter…?

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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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Stage 11: Out of Africa & Into Arabia

Khartoum to Luxor, 1470km & a ferry ride up Lake Nasser. Feb 19th – March 11th

People love to talk about ‘Africa’. Yes it is a single physical continent but its human diversity- nearly 3000 ethnicities have been divided, often arbitrarily, into 48 nation states - makes generalisations difficult. As such, sub-saharan Africa is often what people mean when discussing Africa. For me, there was certainly a step change in culture arriving in Sudan, a change accentuated by the fact that we had arrived by plane, rather than bicycle from the continent’s newest country…

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Stage 10: Kampala to juba – Six nations on a Sweet Chariot to Juba...

650km Feb 3rd - 11th. Six months ago, I neither expected to be in South Sudan or indeed singing the French & Scottish rugby anthems to live accordion & bagpipes in the middle of the African bush. But it felt appropriate timing given that the 2012 six nations were kicking off on the same weekend that I headed North. Coincidentally, six different nationalities joined me & Thandie on the road to Juba…

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Stage 9: Journey to the Source of the Nile...

Nairobi to Jinja: 1050km, Jan 4th – 21st

In 1999, I was invited to play cricket for the wealthy philanthropist Christopher Ondatjie in Devon. Despite only scoring a single run, he kindly gifted me a signed copy of his book ‘Journey to the Source of Nile’, documenting his attempt to recreate some of the great Victorian explorers’ journeys in search of the cherished source. Given the logistical problems of getting an overland visa for Ethiopia, going to see the start of the world’s longest river and explore some of the places Mr Ondatjie described were certainly incentives to head west, rather than directly north from Nairobi…

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Stage 8: 3 types of fun on the road to Kenya...

Dar to Nairobi; 950km, November 28th - December 10th.

Fun isn’t always fun. So Jim Blyth, a Chamonix mountain guide told me in 2010. During Type 1 fun, you enjoy both doing the activity and reflecting on it. Type 2 isn’t much fun at the time but you enjoy looking back on it. Type 3 is neither.  I explained this to my new stokers Rob Heck & Emma Watson Mack as we planned the next stage over a Kili (local beer) in Dar. Our aim was to avoid Type 3 and get close to the real Kili before Rob would have to go back to work…

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