All money raised will go directly to the charities selected; we will be paying for all our own expenses.

Sand2Snow Adventures

by Bike Africa on January 16, 2012

Check out our new blog across at Sand2Snow Adventures . Our next expedition starts this April!

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A year in pictures

by Bike Africa on March 23, 2010

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Online charity auction

by David on March 17, 2010

Only One Irish Rugby side has ever beaten the mighty All Blacks.
That was Munster, on the 31st of October, 1978.

In 2008, Limited Edition Prints celebrating this unique piece of Munster Rugby history were produced by artist, Neil O’Dwyer. From this Limited Edition of 380, a small number of 22 Prints have been kindly signed by all players of that day, including coach Tom Kiernan. As these are the only ones in existence, they are very special.

One of these is being auctioned online at www.murals.ie , in aid of the three Bike Africa 2009 charities. Auction starts on Friday, March 26th at 8 pm. until Saturday, April 17th. at 8 pm. when the most generous offer secures ownership of the Print.

To view the print and enter the auction visit Neil’s site before 17th April. On behalf of Bike Africa and our charities I would like to thank Neil O’Dwyer for this generous offer.

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Not things but men and women

by maghnus on March 2, 2010

Within the next couple of days we will reach Ireland. We have stories. We have stories of danger, excitement, humour and adventure. The countries we have cycled through, the majesty of nature and history combined and distinct, the rivers crossed, the deserts, the forrests, the heat, the cold, the sand, the mud and the snow. Among the places we have called home from a sunset to a sunrise; schools, churches, mosques, police stations, hospitals, bars, restaurants, sidewalks, sand-dunes, garages, gardens, derelict houses, storm drains, living rooms, border crossings, bus stops, dams, and courtrooms. We have been low on monoey, low on food, low on water, low on fuel, low on morale, low on patience, and low on resolve. We have seen and done things out of the reach of our imagining minds a year ago, and we have done all this because of the people.

From Turkey to Tanzania, from Israel to Italy, and from Zimbabwe to Ireland we have trusted in, depended upon, and have been astonished by people. At times when the very idea of the journey seemed a little outrageous it was the people at home who encouraged and lent a hand in countless ways. When we hit moments of difficulty and will had folded, reluctant to continue it was people, who, with simple acts of kindness reminded us of the joys we had forgotten, our minds deluded by dejection. When displays of welcome and kindness seemed unsurpassable, they were surpassed. When we felt we could ask no more, more was offered unrequested. Bike Africa was made a reality by the simple goodness of people and its success inspired by a thousand acts of selfless generosity. “Not things, but men and women.”

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Mt Sinai to Mt Blanc

by David on February 17, 2010

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It was the worst of times…

by David on February 2, 2010

“Just not cycling, I’m hating it right now”

Alan had asked what I most looked forward to in Milan and I couldn’t hide my discontentment. Arrival on schedule would mean cycling from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the next four days with a measly three half hour refueling breaks thrown in.

I squelched in to enjoy this particular break all too aware that the fifteen minutes spent getting sensation back into my toes left little time to enjoy the latte macchiato I’d been thinking of for the last half hour of cycling. This was undoubtedly my low point of the last stage, two weeks of continuous cycling had taken its toll and the remaining 600 km seemed an insurmountable hurdle.

All that afternoon my head was playing tricks with me; “Just take tomorrow off” The break will do you good” “You deserve it” …”You deserve it!”

Suddenly the clouds parted, if this trip has taught me anything it’s that the moment you start imagining you deserve things is exactly the time to dig in. I’d fallen for this subconscious deception before and had to live with the regrets. I was here by choice and knew that a few days hardship was a tiny price to pay for the personnel satisfaction derived from sticking this one out.

Most days we’re fortunate enough to experience the delights of putting up with a little discomfort. The blast of heat you get entering a coffee shop after a cold nights camping, finding clean dry socks after weeks on the road or an invitation into a warm house just as you contemplate another night in the snow.

Its the magnification of such pleasures which makes journey cycling so addictive. As we enjoy pizzas , parties and football matches in Milan I’m all too aware that a chance to simply not cycle was all I really wanted.

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Final Leg

by Bike Africa on January 19, 2010

Carrying gear for fit only for an African summer we arrived in Turkey needing new clothes and equipment to take us through a cold European winter. Sleeping bags were provided by the Irish Defence Force and were posted along with thermal clothing to Istanbul, timed for our arrival. We planned on departing Istanbul on the 27th of December after a three day Christmas break, however, the Irish, English, Czech and Turkish Post contrived to delay us two weeks. We eventually left Istanbul last Tuesday, crossing the Bosphorous into Europe (officially marking the beginning our our third continent). The departure marked the beginning of an 18 day non-stop cycle to Milan. Already conditions have changed drasticly with shorts and t – shirts being exchanged for thermals and rain gear as the days get progressively colder. Below is our planned route home. After crossing Greece, we will cycle from the heel of Italy to the Alps. Having climbed the famous region via Mont Blanc we will descend into Switzerland before travelling across France. England and Wales represent the last stage before catching the ferry to Dublin.


View Istanbul – Ireland in a larger map

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The Wall

by maghnus on January 10, 2010

It is difficult to conceive its’ enormity without laying one’s own eyes upon it. Harder still to conjure is its’ obtrusiveness. Businesses, roads and homes are cast in shadow, encircled and taunted by its’ ferocious pervasiveness. Graffitti covers the bottom quarter, yet seems to represent little more than token dissent. Indicative also, though of what I’m not entirely sure, is that the authors and painters who decorate the wall would appear in the vast majority not to be of Palestinian extraction. Gaeilge bellows ‘saoirse’ in bright green paint alongside a phrase writ large in German made famous by an American President attempting to show solidarity with a populous imprisoned by a wall that would have been dwarfed by the Israeli ‘security fence’. Sprawled messages and pictures seem borne of powerlessness and frustrated anger. The tone ranges from thought provoking sentiments of peace to reactionary and hastily written insults. Solidarity is a theme that springs up often yet one wonders how many of the dissenters remain within the community imprisoned by the wall. Religion too recurs among the themes of the graffitti and I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the irony. One would think that the wall’s presence alone would obviate the divisiveness of monotheistic worship yet the scripture citing believers blindly propose that the best cure is a hair of the dog.

Most distressing of all, to me at least, is the apathy with which Palestinians have been forced to display with regard to the wall. Children must be fed and life must be lived, thus, as youthful foreigners stare upwards shaking their heads with anger and solemnity locals gaze only ahead. They need not their eyes to be reminded of its presence. The restrictions placed on movement and commerce are reminders enough of its control over those inclosed.

The relative ease with which foreign tourists can pass between areas of Israeli and Palestinian control serves only to highlight the incarceration of locals. Israeli citizens are prevented by their own government from visiting Palestinian areas for their protecion. Conversations with locals of both extractions confrims that ths restriction is, pathetically, a necessary one. However, this restriction is of ostensibly little inconvenience to Israeli’s who lead a life of relative affluence and freedom when contrasted with the plight of Palestinians (‘plight’ is used not to elecit a greater sense of sympathy for one group over the other, but rather to highlight the fact that although Israelis are not entitled to enter Palestinian controlled areas, their freedom to move within in Israel is without restriction.)

The wall which winds its way through the West Bank is patently an exercise in apartheid. The so called ‘security fence’ has created a series of cantons within which the people are literally prisoners to varying degrees. Robert Frost pondered on the extent to which ‘good walls make good neighbours’? Had he visited Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah or any other walled off community he would have at once found that his ponderings were grounded in contemporary reality. He would have found that the oft repeated maxim is paradoxically true and false. True to the extent that one neighbour is convinced of its value and importance, yet false to the extent that beyond their content gaze lies a neighbour burning with a fury that will continue to manifest itself in hatred and violence.
Descending the hill toward the tourist centre of Bethlehem places a topographic obstacle between the Christian tourist and the wall. Beyond the hill and the ‘twenty-somethings’ so affected by the selective prison are the generations that produced today’s political tourists. Large tour groups, bused in from Israel’s airports, purchase coffee mugs with nativity scenes as they try and conjure in their minds what the first christmas must have been like. Festive cheer is pumped from speakers in shops adourned with snowmen and santas. Churches mark the spots where Jesus allegedly lay in his manger and shops advertise clay figurines that allow the visitor to bring the little baby Jesus home with them.

However, if Jesus had been born 2,000 years later, and Mary, Joseph and the burdened donkey would never have reached their heavenly manger. Where once they questioned the inn-keepers of Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph, both Jews, would be questioned and ultimately refused entry by soldiers brandishing American manafactured assault rifles. So as little baby Jesus wings its way toward a western coffee table, the children of Palestine apply for i.d’s hoping to be allowed drive 20km to share a coffee with a brother in Ramallah.

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Khartoum to Sinai

by David on December 26, 2009

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Running the Gauntlet

by David on December 11, 2009

“  I think its best to hide behind a tuk tuk until you get over the speed bumps, then accelerate before they get a chance to organise.”

As with the kids in Ethiopia, each of us have developed a unique style of avoiding the police checkpoints throughout Egypt. Every 40km we encounter a new set of officers intent on pulling us aside and providing an armed escort for the day’s cycle. Although well intended, these escorts greatly reduce our freedom and result in us spending the night at a local station with a release time determined by an officer we’ve spent the previous day annoying. 

Cycling in Egypt was never meant to be enjoyable, all reports had focused on the attitude of the local force and their unwillingness to let you experience the country without constant surveillance. Indeed despite our best efforts this close observation reached ridiculous levels as Alan and myself were told we required at least three armed guards to help us negotiate the hidden dangers at a local corner shop. 

Still as these attempts to escape grew more daring and imaginative I think a part of all of us started to enjoy the experience. 

“When it hits 5.15 start to pick up your speed, I reckon I can delay them for at least 10 minutes”

It was the end of our first full days escort and we were determined to use the failing light to our advantage. As Maghnus and Alan disappeared round the corner I pulled over to buy an orange. As I negotiated a price for the fruit the trailing truck slammed on the breaks and a couple of henchmen ran towards me gesticulating wildly as I fumbled for the correct change.

 Once back on the bike I tried to maintain a speed slow enough to buy the boys time but fast enough to keep this fact concealed. Finally they must have realised and sped past me waving angrily, by now they were too late and although we would undoubtedly be reeled in the following day for now at least we were free. 

Throughout the following days we successfully broke out of a police station, dodged through road blocks with up to 23 armed guards, and verbally reprimanded five officers responsible for knocking Maghnus off his bike. On each occasion our need to stay on the main Cairo road landed us back under protection, but the thrill of the chase completely removed any of the usual pain associated with a days cycle and helped us cover bigger distances than ever before. 

On Monday evening we reached Cairo two days ahead of schedule and almost without realising. After almost 7 months we had come to the end of our African leg, a fact which still hasn’t fully sunk in. Although looking forward to Europe something tells me our adventures may get a little tamer, its always the toughest days which end up being the most memorable, we may even grow to miss those pesky police.

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