Forced to Rethink
It’s strange how things turn out sometimes isn’t it?
Since our last post for Alpkit we’ve cycled down through Spain, crossed via ferry from Malaga to Melilla and cycled south through Morocco, spending over a month wild camping on the African continent enjoying khubz and ataay- local speak for tea and bread.
Morocco is a beautiful country, and after four months of cycling through countries quite similar to our own, it was lovely to experience an entirely different way of life. The people were genuinely happy to see foreign tourists in their country, especially a couple travelling slowly and living on their bikes.
The mountains are some of the most impressive we’ve ever seen in our lives. Not ones to shy away from a little touring torture we headed straight for them and decided to spend our first New Year away cycling to the summit of Jabel Tazzeka (1980m).
We successfully granny ringed, pushed and swore our way up the sometimes steep and rough dirt track, eventually reaching the summit after more than a few hours. We proceded to camp, completely alone, at 1800m in the clouds for three days. Sheer bliss! (you can watch the video here)
Now, when we set off in August 2010 we decided to cycle south to keep warm and chase the sun. After this, the plan was “no plan”.
That said, as the pedals turned we tossed ideas back and forth and we decided that we would like to head East across northern Africa exploring Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to eventually reach the Red Sea for a well deserved swim!
Well, as we reached Marrakech we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be rioting in Tunisia. Hmmmmm….... it was time to and find an internet connection and investigate.
Upon further research it was clear that it wouldn’t be a safe time to head east, another plan had to be made.
Looking into becoming crew on boats revealed that the window for crossing the Atlantic Ocean would close up in February, a little too close for comfort, and cycling back up through Portugal would be mind crushing as we’d be, in effect, cycling homeward bound. Flying was the final option, it would cut out the comedy loop on our route map. We hadn’t wanted to fly at all on this journey, but understandably the situation made it inevitable.
Flying to Italy would feel as if we were progressing with the journey, taking us across to where we’d be entering new territory without going too far from where we’d already been.
So for us, Italy was the only answer. A flight to Milan was booked and we cycled to the airport the very next morning.
It gives you mixed feelings when in three hours you fly over the same roads you’ve just spent five months of your life travelling on. Sam couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed when boarding the airplane but as Sarah has said since, “It actually made us reflect on what we’d already achieved, reminding us of happy memories but also of why we are doing this in the first place.”
So we are in Italy everyone, a country that we hadn’t expected to be in at all, but that’s life and the nature of a World cycle. You never now what is round the next corner.
Since arrival, we’ve had illness, exploding tyres and emergency surgery. No, not on us, on Toby- Sam’s bike. The down tube had cracked where it meets the headtube but, with help from a good samaritan in Parma, he’s now been fixed. So we’re now sat in our bike gear about to continue the journey, aiming for Pisa and some good old leaning action.
Take care Alpkitters,
For more regular updates you can follow the expedition website at: 2010 Till When