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Old 12-13-06, 04:33 AM   #26
Flic
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Thankyou George :-) How is it best for me to post a proposed route? Should I just write down what I plan on doing? I have a loose plan but am keeping it flexible.

Unfortunately I'm not exactly sure how quickly bits on bikes wear out. I was planning to bring with me 4 spare tubes, an allen key (spelling?), a pump, some oil and maybe a spoke or two. I have seen more comprehensive lists from other people but am just sort of hoping things won't break too much... I don't know how to change anything at all, but will definitely try and learn a bit before I go.

I can speak french, not brilliantly, but I did it for four years at school and have been to France 3 or 4 times.

I have been reading about food. I am not gunna bring any cooking gear, because it will reduce weight and mean I won't have to cook anything, just eat cold food or buy it along the way. I was going to bring a few energy bars for the first few days in case. Also I was planning on riding 25km on my first day and then having a few days off riding while I check out some oasises and can put my bike on the bus, and then start riding again once I hit the Nile. I have been looking into water purification too. At my work we sell these flexi bottles which are really strong, like camelbaks sort of, but they are just 1ltr bottles... might bring some of them as spares. I've been told by some crew you need 5ltrs of water a day... I'm sure this varies for climate, exertion and person to person... I hope I don't need to carry that much... seems heavy. And I don't know where it would fit.

I am pretty chilled and will definitely make sure to walk away.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-13-06, 06:09 AM   #27
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Flicca,

Don't let people put you off! But there's a lot of stuff that hasn't occurred to you it seems since you're not a cyclist (yet). You say you'll be carrying all your stuff in a 25ltr bag - have you ever wondered then why most people touring in Africa have at least 2 panniers with at least 50ltr capacity? They're carrying stuff they NEED. Without cooking stuff or a tent then maybe you'd manage with the 25ltr bag, but you can't be thinking about going without a tent????? If you are then prepare for some VERY long days to get you from one village with guest house to the next. More than 200km often. That's along way to travel with only 12 hours daylight! Also, even if you got all your stuff in a 25ltr bag then it doen't give you much capacity for food and the 5ltrs water you WILL need to carry at times.

As for the route down through the East, well that's fine and don't listen to the idiots telling you all about the civil wars, bandits, etc. as if there's no chance you'll make it alive! The route you'd take through Sudan is fine. The route you'd take through Ethiopia is fine. The route you'd take through Kenya is (mostly) fine.

Don't be dicouraged, but please find someone to talk to who has toured a lot in Africa or the third world and listen to what they tell you. Africa isn't actually THAT difficult to cycle or travel through - my first cycling trip there was off the back of one 1 week trip previously (you recognise me yet ;-)) and I survived.

If you want to travel ultralight then PM a guy called iik on the lonely planet TT for advice on ultralight packing. Otherwise have a look around for expedition gear lists and take notice of how many spares people carry - on rough roads bikes (especially cheap bikes) do go wrong and in Africa few spares will be available, so you need at leat to be able to get yourself to the next main road to catch a bus (to the city so you can Fedex spares out to you).

Good luck, iambaisekeli
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Old 12-13-06, 06:29 AM   #28
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hi amaferanga.... I have written down some of the advice you previously gave me... gunna take it with me, the bit about regreting and forgetting... I really appreciated it very much. I agree with the part about it being good to talk to someone who has been cycle touring in Africa, but the thing is I really don't know anyone who has done any cycle touring anywhere at all... Thats half the reason I keep coming up with stupid questions... I agree that the route will be OK... I've been reading loads and loads.

I've been thinking quite a bit about what I'm going to be bringing with me and I think it will fit into a 25Ltr bag mostly, and if it doesnt fit I won't bring it I guess. I have talked to iik briefly and read his site fully. He's the reason I have decided a bag instead of panniers is a good idea. In my bag I will be able to fit a tent, thermarest and light sleeping bag... a change of clothes, a little first aid and some spares will have to squeeze in. This may sound unrealistic I guess... but I've had a bit of a play around and reckon itll hopefully work... Oh, I'll bring some maps too! They may come in handy... you never know.

Hopefully everything will work out fine :-) my mates gunna make me a travelogue so that anyone interested can see how I go, and those of little faith can laugh at me and mutter "I told you so" when I f it up.
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Old 12-13-06, 08:50 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Flic
hi amaferanga.... I have written down some of the advice you previously gave me... gunna take it with me, the bit about regreting and forgetting... I really appreciated it very much. I agree with the part about it being good to talk to someone who has been cycle touring in Africa, but the thing is I really don't know anyone who has done any cycle touring anywhere at all... Thats half the reason I keep coming up with stupid questions... I agree that the route will be OK... I've been reading loads and loads.

I've been thinking quite a bit about what I'm going to be bringing with me and I think it will fit into a 25Ltr bag mostly, and if it doesnt fit I won't bring it I guess. I have talked to iik briefly and read his site fully. He's the reason I have decided a bag instead of panniers is a good idea. In my bag I will be able to fit a tent, thermarest and light sleeping bag... a change of clothes, a little first aid and some spares will have to squeeze in. This may sound unrealistic I guess... but I've had a bit of a play around and reckon itll hopefully work... Oh, I'll bring some maps too! They may come in handy... you never know.

Hopefully everything will work out fine :-) my mates gunna make me a travelogue so that anyone interested can see how I go, and those of little faith can laugh at me and mutter "I told you so" when I f it up.
You'll need WAY more than 25l for your tent, sleeping bag, therma-rest, and other things. Where do you plan on keeping your water?
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Old 12-13-06, 12:16 PM   #30
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Flic, if I may ask, are you a male or female? There are a lot of womans bikes from Target you were showing. If you are female, that is extremely dangerous, especially alone. You will probebly be places where women are thought to be here, for mens pleasures and domestic chores only. You could be beaten to a pulp or killed, if you refuse to do what some guy(s) say, and very unlikely anyone will help you. Not sure if you are a guy or not though, or why you were looking at womens bikes if you are. Mens bikes frames are stronger.

I hope that nothing really bad happens to you, if you go. I wish I could see Africa by bike, but I dont want to be raped or killed.
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Old 12-13-06, 12:34 PM   #31
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Whilst this might be a possibility, I would mention that my ex-girlfriend has travelled through about half of the African continent, often alone, with no problems. So long as the obvious hotspots were avoided, I'd be much more worried about a single female travelling through the US.

On that note though: Flic, can you give us more info about yourself? What prior travel experience do you have, and where abouts in Oz are you based? For example, if you're in Sydney you should contact the UNSW BMC- they've usually got some pretty hardcore bike tourers in the club that could provide useful advice. Other unis would have similar clubs.
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Old 12-13-06, 12:38 PM   #32
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In terms of where I have been... Outside of Australia I have been to a fair bit of Europe: Ireland, England, Wales, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, The Czech Republic, Greece and Bulgaria....
Dude. Seriously.

It's good that you're a seasoned traveler, and you would do fine as a traveler in many parts of Africa. Central Africa is not one of them.

Even Lonely Planet suggest you avoid southern Sudan; cites landmines and border closings and bombings as a "major problems" in Eritrea; points out that Chad is in a state of emergency; cites how foreigners are "favorite" targets for gangs in the CAR, and is clear that Congo is violent and unstable. Borders are frequently closed and many of these countries require permits to travel outside of the cities.

The Australian government says that its citizens should not go to Sudan, and if they're already there to leave immediately. They do not have a consul there, and the nearest ones are in Cairo and Nairobi. So if you get into trouble, your government can't help you.

You will also be traveling much slower than almost any other method. It could easily take you a month to get through Sudan. That's a lot of time to spend all alone in a conflict zone.

Has none of this information come up in the "loads and loads" that you've read?

I'm not saying that you need to spend the rest of your life in Perth or Nimbin or whatever with your feet propped up on the coffee table. I'm pointing out that this specific region is very dangerous and is one of the least safe parts of the world. On top of that, you have not yet developed the skills to do a long bike tour. In fact, it sounds like you are unwilling to commit yourself to traveling via bike -- which, given how physically and mentally challenging any extensive tour is, is practically guaranteed to result in abandoning your bike 4 days into the trip.

You should seriously reconsider your route and your approach to long bike tours.
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Old 12-13-06, 12:41 PM   #33
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Whilst this might be a possibility, I would mention that my ex-girlfriend has travelled through about half of the African continent, often alone, with no problems. So long as the obvious hotspots were avoided, I'd be much more worried about a single female travelling through the US.
I have traveled all over the U.S. alone, and have had car break downs in very remote areas, 50 miles from the nearest phone. The worst thats ever happened to me, is some guy grabbed my behind, when I was stranded in the desert in California. Ive been to all 50 states, and some places people nicer than others, but I dont know why you think its not safe.
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Old 12-13-06, 12:57 PM   #34
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Dude. Seriously.

It's good that you're a seasoned traveler, and you would do fine as a traveler in many parts of Africa. Central Africa is not one of them.

Even Lonely Planet suggest you avoid southern Sudan; cites landmines and border closings and bombings as a "major problems" in Eritrea; points out that Chad is in a state of emergency; cites how foreigners are "favorite" targets for gangs in the CAR, and is clear that Congo is violent and unstable. Borders are frequently closed and many of these countries require permits to travel outside of the cities.

The Australian government says that its citizens should not go to Sudan, and if they're already there to leave immediately. They do not have a consul there, and the nearest ones are in Cairo and Nairobi. So if you get into trouble, your government can't help you.

You will also be traveling much slower than almost any other method. It could easily take you a month to get through Sudan. That's a lot of time to spend all alone in a conflict zone.

Has none of this information come up in the "loads and loads" that you've read?

I'm not saying that you need to spend the rest of your life in Perth or Nimbin or whatever with your feet propped up on the coffee table. I'm pointing out that this specific region is very dangerous and is one of the least safe parts of the world. On top of that, you have not yet developed the skills to do a long bike tour. In fact, it sounds like you are unwilling to commit yourself to traveling via bike -- which, given how physically and mentally challenging any extensive tour is, is practically guaranteed to result in abandoning your bike 4 days into the trip.

You should seriously reconsider your route and your approach to long bike tours.
You should only comment on things you know something about. You are saying that South Sudan is dangerous, but there's no need to pass through the part of the south where there's trouble to get to Ethiopia! Look at a map and you might learn something about Africa. The route down the east coast of Africa is a well trodden path. It may interest you to know that the people of Sudan are possibly the friendliest in all of Africa. Every cyclist I've met who has passed through has had tales of families giving up their beds for them - imagine that, insisting a complete stranger sleep in your bed while you sleep on an earth floor. But that's the reality of Africa. People are unbelievably friendly. The route down the west coast of Africa is slowly becoming more and more well trodden. Check that map again - no need to pass through CAR or Chad to get south! The 'problem' countries are Angola and Congo/DRC, but people are passing through these countries every week (on bikes) and surviving. The main routes really aren't that bad provided you have your wits about you. By the time Flic reaches these countries should she choose this route (which I don't think she is anyway) she'll be a VERY experienced Africa-cycle tourist and will know how to deal with any situations that may arise.

The reality of Africa and the Africa portrayed in the media and by government warnings are worlds apart. But then you only learn that by travelling there and I suspect you haven't been so not sure what makes you think you're qualified to give 'advice'.
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Old 12-13-06, 01:39 PM   #35
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Let's try to bring the focus back to helping the OPer....

I think we can all agree that an X-Mart bike is a horrible idea.

Does any here think that that this trip is doable with a 25l pack as the OPer has suggested? Looking at my tiny 2kg tent and the 25l backpack I sometimes use for commuting I just don't see this as being possible.

I also noticed from a post in the mechanics forum that the OPer doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on how cycles work. Any comments?
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Old 12-13-06, 07:43 PM   #36
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Hi everyone :-) thanks again for your replies, I really appreciate you all taking the time to do so.

THE 25LTR BAG: I work in an outdoors shop and have had a bit of time to play around with putting things in the bag. The tent I am looking at taking weighs between 1.1 and 1.9kgs (havn't decided which one yet) and takes up a little less than half the bag. The sleeping bag and thermorest take up a little less than half too. I am only bringing minimal spare clothes and then some maps with information written on the back of them. The front pocket of the bag can have the bike spares put into it, and the top pocket can have toiletries/first aid. If it turns out I am wrong and can't fit it all in, then I can move up to a 28 or 30 Ltr bag, but I definitely don't want more stuff than that! I thought I would have a small handlebar bag too for my camera and a snack. I though in terms of water I could put some of those cage things that hold bottles on the frame. Couldn't I carry enough water this way?

ME: Yeah I'm female. I didn't bother saying it earlier because I figured it would just make people focus on telling me the dangers of solo female travel instead of useful bike information - thanks for the tip that men's frames tend to be stronger than women's. But thankyou all for your concern. I may well meet people to travel with for sections along the way, I'm very cruisy, and I too hope that nothing really bad happens to me. I am based in Melbourne, and I mentioned some of my travel experience earlier, but in includes most of Western Europe, some of Eastern Europe, a few parts of Asia, the USA and a few straggling countries.

THE ROUTE: The countries I intend to visit are Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia (Somaliland and if it isn't too sketchy Puntland, not Somalia itself), Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. Central Africa isn't really on the radar, but if I might pop into DRC if it seems appropriate at the time. Southern Sudan isn't really on my itinerary because its pretty sketchy, but again, I'll play it by ear when I get there. I'm not one to make firm plans, because I don't want to miss opportunities, or be dissapointed when I can't do something. I've talked to the Ethiopian embassy here in Australia and the bloke there reckons its fine to get in from Sudan, and I will organise my Ethiopian visa before I leave Australia. I'm stoked that you think it might take a month to get through Sudan, because thats about how much time I factored in there. Everything I have read from people passing through Sudan recently indicates its an awesome place to visit. I might get shouted down for this, but I don't pay much attention to government warnings to leave unless they seem really serious. I just take note that the area is obviously sketchy and remain alert, not alarmed(!). I've spent time in countries with such warnings and experienced no problems, looking back I would have been very disappointed if I had taken the warnings literally.

COMMITMENT: Yeah, I'm kinda scared to be honest, but excited too. I know I'm pretty tough, and have achieved things before which people doubted.

BIKE MAINTENANCE: 100% correct. I am a knowledge free zone. The good part about that is I'm like a sponge, and won't leave Australia without at least learning something.

QUESTION: If you had the option of buying a $300 bike (down from $450) that had front suspension that you could lock if you wanted, would you get it, or is it just another thing that can fail on the bike? Would you just go the $200 bike instead (down from $300) that has standard front suspension and slightly crapper gears? Yeah yeah I know all of you would in reality go neither...
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Old 12-13-06, 08:55 PM   #37
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Shoot for the moon, why not... but AFRICA?

1. Wild, hungry animals that like to attack bicyclist (meals on wheels)
2. High crime rate (Johannesburg, anyone?)
3. Few hospitals and doctors.

Dude, wake up!
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Old 12-13-06, 09:10 PM   #38
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1. When was the last time a cyclist got eaten by an animal in Africa?
2. My camera survived a year of travel only to get pinched from my house a couple of months later, and I'm not going to Joburg, though I can see your point but somehow feel the same thing might be said about a lot of places, Newyork for starters?
3.I'm in the midst of having my vacs, have a full first aid certificate, will take some first aid gear, get travel insurance and hope for the best...

thanks for the advice anyway, particularly the first four words... :-)
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Old 12-14-06, 12:51 AM   #39
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You don't want an "adventure". adventure means you weren't prepared. (who said that...? someone famous and with lots of foresight i think...)
I can't say whether this trip is a good idea, because that depends entirely on you. I've met kids 10 years younger than you who could get thrown into just about anything and come out on top. They're rare, but they do exist. And I've met plenty of people of all ages with big ideas an even bigger aptitude to screw things up and insult those who could help them in the process. For my own peace of mind I'd like to believe that you tend toward the former end of the spectrum. Out of curiosity, what is your motivation for making this trip?
I'll try to keep my actual advice simple:
Learn to patch a tire, and learn how your bike is put together. If you're mechanically minded it really is not that hard--just a matter of having a few tools (and some standard parts for repairs). The trick is knowing which ones. If you're not mechanically minded, you should consider relying on other transportation for distances that you wouldn't be willing to walk. while pushing a bike. Chances are you WILL break down. Murphy's law says it will be in the worst possible place. Expect that.
I'm rooting for you. But please, please, be aware of your own limits. Do your homework, and do practice rides. even short ones. That is the one point that makes skeptical of your competence. I can't emphasize how important it is to be familiar with your equipment--both its mechanics, and the way you respond to it.
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Old 12-14-06, 01:01 AM   #40
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Flic, Do you have much experience in Muslim countries? Even my most hard core female traveler friend (she did Greece to Pakistan/Afghanistan border solo starting in November 2001) finds a man to pretend to be her husband in the places where Islamic fundamentalism is strong. Often lone females are viewed as prostitutes in these places. Make sure to do your research.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:03 AM   #41
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Flic, i'm probably one of those nay-sayers you imagine gloating over your troubles
when reading your travelogue.
please believe me, i won't.
i don't know you, but all i want is for you to have the trip of a lifetime, AND return safely home.
will you give us the internet address of your travelogue? i would love to read about your trip.

please take care,
jurjan
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Old 12-14-06, 02:22 AM   #42
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Oh and as for water.....I know that my wife and I usually drink about 2l apiece on our 50km weekend ride to the beach. The temp is usually around 23-25c, and we don't carry a heavy load.

Last edited by Ziemas; 12-14-06 at 02:49 AM.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:24 AM   #43
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Akugluk... I really always try my hardest not to insult anyone, I hope I havn't. I also hope I'm one of those kinda kids who comes out on top. I'm usually pretty lucky, but then again I do believe that you create your own luck. I've tried a few times now to write down my motivation for the trip and I can't get it out properly saying what I want to say. Its an opportunity... And let me assure you, I will definitely learn some bike mechanics before I go. Thankyou.

Ziemas... I have practically zero experience in Muslim countries, but I am aware of the cultural stigma associated with western societies. Its been suggested to me to bring a wedding ring and maybe a photo, I understand appropriate dress and will bring something to cover my hair. If you have any other tips please let me know, its kind of you to be concerned.

jurjan... I believe you and will certainly pass along the website address when its properly up and running. Thankyou so much for your interest, I will try and make sure to write down things that will be of interest to cyclists. Man, I really, really hope I make it.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:25 AM   #44
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thanks for the figures Ziemas, they are very handy.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:55 AM   #45
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Akugluk... I really always try my hardest not to insult anyone, I hope I havn't. I also hope I'm one of those kinda kids who comes out on top. I'm usually pretty lucky, but then again I do believe that you create your own luck. I've tried a few times now to write down my motivation for the trip and I can't get it out properly saying what I want to say. Its an opportunity... And let me assure you, I will definitely learn some bike mechanics before I go. Thankyou.

Ziemas... I have practically zero experience in Muslim countries, but I am aware of the cultural stigma associated with western societies. Its been suggested to me to bring a wedding ring and maybe a photo, I understand appropriate dress and will bring something to cover my hair. If you have any other tips please let me know, its kind of you to be concerned.

jurjan... I believe you and will certainly pass along the website address when its properly up and running. Thankyou so much for your interest, I will try and make sure to write down things that will be of interest to cyclists. Man, I really, really hope I make it.
Another female friend of mine was locked inside a shop in Egypt by the shopkeeper. They were alone and he was chasing her around the store. She started knocking things off shelves to break them. Seeing his shop being destroyed, he let her go without raping her.

Sooooo, be on your toes and think fast! (Also find a man to travel with to act as your husband if necessary. - I saved a lone Swedish woman this way once in a VERY conservative part of Indonesia.)
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Old 12-14-06, 02:55 AM   #46
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Shoot for the moon, why not... but AFRICA?

1. Wild, hungry animals that like to attack bicyclist (meals on wheels)
2. High crime rate (Johannesburg, anyone?)
3. Few hospitals and doctors.

Dude, wake up!
1. Wild animals in National Parks mostly, not everywhere. Even then its possible to cycle through NPs and make it out alive. I did. The locals do in some parks (e.g. South Luangwa in Zambia) every day. You can even camp in lion/elephant country and live to tell the tale. I did several times.

2. Utter rubbish. Yes lots of crime in Jo'berg, but in the bush (where cyclists tend to spend their time) virtually no crime. Safer by far than the US.

3. Ya takes yer chances on that one, but I've never heard of any cycle tourist dying while on the road in Africa. Know of one guy that died after being bitten by a snake while not cycling, but that could happen almost anywhere now couldn't it.

It still amazes me the number of people that feel they have something to add to this thread despite the fact that they've never even set foot in Africa!
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Old 12-14-06, 02:59 AM   #47
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And another thing, for those suggesting that a lone woman with virtually no knowledge of repairing bikes can't cycle across Africa, I draw your attention to a very famous Irish lady by the name of Dervla Murphy. Not only did she cycle for months in Africa, cross the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia with a mule and cycle twice round South Africa (once before and then after the end of appartheid), but she did it all as an elderly lady who refused even to mend a puncture herself!
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Old 12-14-06, 03:00 AM   #48
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Speaking of medical services.....when I travel to third world countries I always take a few clean hypodermic needles with me....If you do need medical attention you can always provide your own clean, unused needle.

EDIT: Lariam might make you go mad, or it just might give you crazy dreams like it does to me. Either way, this is normal and expect it to happen!
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Old 12-14-06, 03:24 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amaferanga
And another thing, for those suggesting that a lone woman with virtually no knowledge of repairing bikes can't cycle across Africa, I draw your attention to a very famous Irish lady by the name of Dervla Murphy. Not only did she cycle for months in Africa, cross the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia with a mule and cycle twice round South Africa (once before and then after the end of appartheid), but she did it all as an elderly lady who refused even to mend a puncture herself!
It's not a matter of being a woman or not, it's a matter of being able to travel in third world conditions. It all about experience, and Dervla Murphy had lot's of it. You need to be able to walk before you can run.....
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Old 12-14-06, 04:02 AM   #50
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I'd neither travelled much in the 3rd world nor toured properly before heading to Africa to take on my first big tour (starting in Uganda). You chuck yourself into it and learn VERY quickly. I think Flic will be just fine.
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