Toni-Anne Pease: Half a Year Cycling the African Continent
Ethan Weil was the Content Creator on the 2023 Magical Madagascar Cycling Tour. He talks to Canadian cyclist Toni-Anne Pease about her 6 month African adventure on a bike.
Imagine being on a bicycle, pedalling through tarmac, gravel, mud, and sand for half a year. That’s exactly what Canadian cyclist Toni-Anne Pease, (Also known as TA) has done.
Cycling tours take a lot of preparation, both physically and mentally. One tour can be a tremendous challenge to tackle yet many cyclists who do a TDA tour end up signing up for another…and another. What is not as common is a rider doing two tours, back to back. TA spent the majority of 2023 on her bicycle riding throughout Africa on the Tour d’Afrique and the Magical Madagascar. Adventures like these can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding, yet there are tough times too as the rigour of riding that many days and spending so much time away from home can sometimes take quite a toll, especially if one is not prepared. What can help are the friendships, bonds and relationships formed with other riders on the tours. Cyclists get to know one another quickly on tour as days and nights are spent together in a closely knit group.
Doing both tours wasn’t her original plan. On the Tour d’Afrique, TA met American cyclist Jim Fowler. As she recalls, “I did not plan on doing both tours. It was a TDA romance that stimulated that decision. A big long date! Jim had to leave the Tour d’Afrique and asked me to meet him to do Madagascar.” One of the many things that riders love about TDA tours are the fellow cyclists that they meet on tour. Many of them form strong bonds, friendships and even relationships and nothing helps shape a relationship like tackling challenges together in unfamiliar environments. For Toni-Anne, “My overall experience was fantastic, one of the difficulties was leaving my friends from the Tour d’Afrique and quickly being submerged into a new group. I didn’t have the same energy to start over again and develop new friendships. I was fit and used to the routine of the tours, so that part made it easier for me.”
For six months TA cycled a total of 11,450 km and was able to accomplish it by riding every day of the tour. It’s often necessary at times to take a break from cycling and take a lift in the van or do half days ,yet there are also riders like TA who aim to ride every inch. “It’s mostly a challenge of mental strength. Our bodies are amazingly resilient and adapt to the demands of cycling long distances daily. It’s the mental stuff that gets to many riders. I didn’t miss a day on either tour, I knew what I had to do and committed to my goal of riding a bike across Africa, the only excuse for getting on the truck for me was true illness or bike failure.”
After having finished both tours, she reflects that, “I was/am exhausted by the time it ended. I felt strong until the last couple of days, perhaps knowing it was all ending soon and I could ease out of survival mode.” On many tours it is common for the last few days to be a struggle as many riders have the same kind of thoughts. Their minds tend to shift from cycling mode and slowly transition to life beyond the tour, of going home. Although completely normal, it’s still important to still stay alert from day to day as the tour comes to a close. The last thing TA shared was that, “Traveling for so long makes you realize how little you need to live. One duffel bag held everything I needed.”
It’s quite surprising to discover how little we actually need to be happy in our lives. Being on tour helps bring clarity to that fact, as one quickly learns what is essential in their packs and what’s not. Congrats TA on a fantastic journey and enjoy the well deserved rest!
Madagascar, the world's 4th largest island, is certainly a world unto itself and is often referred to as the ‘8th Continent’. Geographically...