Tour d’Afrique 2022
January 18, 2003 Cairo, Egypt.
“We’re off. Thirty-three cyclists, followed by two supply trucks carrying everything from spare parts to a nurse, roll away from the shadow of Sphinx on the first leg of an 11,000-kilometre adventure. Foolish or courageous – I am not sure which – we’re planning to ride the length of Africa in 100 days of biking.” So begins my dairy from the inaugural 2003 Tour d’Afrique.
A lot of water has flown in the Nile since, but this month, if COVID hadn’t interfered, was going to be the start of the 20th running of the tour. In 2003, as I rode slowly through Cairo, I wondered what in the hell did I think I was doing. After all, I had never cycled away from home for more than two consecutive days and could hardly call myself even a casual cyclist. Already feeling uncomfortable sitting in the saddle, I had no idea that, over the next two decades, I, with many others, would cycle across continent after continent.
I had no idea that 20 months later, Explore Magazine would introduce my diary from the trip, “To the Canadian organizer of the first Tour d’Afrique, cycling 11,000, kilometres from Cairo to Cape Town seemed like a good idea at the time. And after the lava fields, the bandit territory, the stone-throwing kids and the tire swallowing sand, it seemed like an even better idea.”
I had no idea that ten years later a book, Epic Bike Rides of the World, would be published by Lonely Planet and would begin with Tour d’Afrique, that another book, Ride -Cycle the World, would be published and would be reviewed by Road.cc, “Most of the 256 pages are given over to introducing 100 worthwhile cycling routes. You can start to see the problem already, because at best that gives on average 2.5 pages per ride. In reality, each entry gets between one and six pages, but even the latter isn’t enough to do the 7,226 mile African End-to-End (Tour d’Afrique) justice.”
Those books would be followed by, World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges, and World’s Ultimate Cycling Races. In addition, over a dozen books have been published by the participants on the various Tour d’Afrique expeditions.
What I did know at that time was that I, and the others who were taking a chance in joining me, knew that to be truly alive one must go beyond one’s comfort zone, one has to take risks, one needs to go out and face the world. I am thinking of this now as we have decided that we are going ahead with a modified 2022 Tour d’Afrique, one that will begin March 18th in Livingstone , Zambia and end two months later in Gheberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), South Africa.
Just as on the inaugural Tour d’Afrique, there are unknowns, but we, the organizers, believe they can be dealt with and any obstacles can be overcome. In the times of COVID, this is not an easy decision. The easy decision would have been for all of us, the staff and the participants to stay at home. However, as all of those who have participated on our company’s long list of expeditions know, the challenge, the unknown, conquering our fears and prejudices and facing obstacles are all part of why we do what we do. In the end, that makes all of us better human beings. It is in that spirit that we believe running the 2022 Tour d’Afrique is the right thing to do. And I believe the participants of this year’s Tour d’Afrique will agree.
Over the years we have heard from dozens and dozens of riders, telling us how our tours have enhanced their lives, many of them telling us how it literally changed them. We have no idea how the 2022 Tour d’Afrique will turn out. What we do know for certain is that without trying, we would never find out.