Lettie’s ride – a proud South African’s 28 month, 43,000km (or so) bicycle expedition through every country on mainland Africa to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in London – celebrating health, vitality, mobility, adventure and life.
The decision to undertake this journey is an accumulation of years of reading stories of great modern and past adventurers, of ordinary people doing seemingly extraordinary things, and of imagining great adventures of my own. Having travelled and experienced the world considerably, I’ve grown to realise life isn’t about what you own, but what you experience and create, and this all has led me to taking the ‘now or never’ decision to have the courage to live a life true to myself and undertake my own great adventure.
Ultimately I believe life should be lived simply and with passion – food, shelter and health, it really is that simple. The motivation to push myself way beyond previous physical and mental limits, to complete a true adventure, and I hope in some small way inspire others to do the same, are powerful forces. People ask whether it’s ‘risky’, “what about your career?”, “what about being shot by crazed villagers?”, “what about getting sick?”, “what about your pension?”, “what about this or that amazing business opportunity?”. Well, I believe the bigger risk is spending my life not doing what I want on the bet I can buy myself the freedom to do it later.
The bicycle is simple and cheap; powered by the most efficient engine there is – the human body – it is almost silent, emits zero carbons, and doesn’t require fuel, tax discs, paper work, nor space to park. It doesn’t pay toll fees, can be maintained and repaired by almost anyone, and can be hauled onto a dug-out canoe or lifted over a fence. Its ‘limitations’ ensure you carry only what you really need, and it’s the only vehicle that truly allows you to experience a place with all your raw senses – on a bicycle you can’t escape the sounds, the smells, the heat, the cold, the flies and mosquitoes, the dust, the mud, the mountain climbs and valley descents, the wind and the rain of a place – that’s living, that’s experiencing.
In looking for an adventure, I am continuously drawn back to Africa – this incredibly misunderstood continent of ours is an amazing and wondrous place with a history of adventure and pioneering like no other. The desire to dispel the myth of Africa being a scary and inhospitable place; to see and experience it first hand, to sleep under its stars, to be welcomed by its people, to taste its food and drink water from its rivers; that is what drives me. Inspired in part by Riaan Manser’s “Around Africa on my bicycle” and his extraordinary journey circumnavigating the entire continent by bicycle – something no one had ever achieved before – the thought came to me, “a continuous journey on bike through every country in Africa”. This would certainly qualify as an adventure, and hours and hours of time subsequently spent plotting possible routes has a resulted in a plan to cycle from Cape Town, through every country on mainland Africa, to Egypt; then, time permitting, continuing on through the Middle East and Europe and finishing in London some 2.5 years later in time to watch the Springboks begin their campaign of reclaiming the Rugby World Cup. Having always been involved in rugby in some capacity, and being a typical and extremely passionate rugby (and Springbok) mad South African who has attended many previous RWC’s, there will be no bigger motivator in making sure I get up out of the tent each morning to complete the journey in time.
Pureness and authenticity are the ‘rocks’ on which this trip is built – a very limited budget, and mostly alone (although guests from time to time will be most welcome!) – this is a journey of discovery and adventure, and of believing that ultimately one will always be provided for. If passion is the dreams that wake you up at 3am with ideas and excitement that are too strong for sleep, and every waking moment seems spent on making these dreams come true, then passion I’m privileged to have.