Another addition to our cycling community in Nairobi is Jasper (Yes, we dig HeCyclesNairobi), an adept cyclist in Nairobi. We often tease Jasper that he is almost graduating from “Tourist” to “Wildlife” with his vast knowledge of how to get around Nairobi on a bike, having been in Kenya from Germany just under a year.
In today’s blog post he pays tribute to the female cross-global cyclist and a fallen SheCyclist.
Very inspiring to SheCyclesNairobi as my cycle buddy SK and I plan to cycle to Dar over the New Year.
With this blog post, I want to take you beyond the boundaries of SheCyclesNairobi. Nairobi is small and the world is big, but not too big for cycling. Right at this moment, there are hundreds of cyclists touring the continents on trips lasting from months to decades. Wherever you go on your travels, there will be a world cyclist nearby. (On the way to the Watamu Triathlon 2012, SheCyclesNairobi and fellow travellers has a serendipitous encounter with a German cyclist, Steffen, on the Mombasa Highway near Voi on his two year journey from Germany to South Africa.)
For an impression, how many there are, do check this excellent inventory of touring cycle blogs: http://www.gobicycletouring.info (Warning: this is one of the most addictive sites, I have ever come across. The only therapy to cure the addiction is to get a bike and start cycling with unknown destination.)
The most extreme among world cyclists, like Eric and Amaya (http://www.worldbiking.info), have set out to visit every single country in the world by bicycle, a feat that Heinz Stücke has almost completed after 48 years, more than 590,000km and more than 250 countries of cycling (http://www.heinzstucke.com).
The majority of world cyclists are men, but you will also find many couples on the road (check http://journal.goingslowly.com for a particularly inspiring one). Much rarer are solo female travellers, so much more reason to celebrate them. Best known among them are Dervla Murphy, Bettina Selby and Anne Mustoe, all three of them legendary bicycle travel writers.
Dervla Murphy set off on a single speed bicycle named ‘Roz’ in 1963 from London to India “with little more than a revolver and a change of underwear.” The journey is documented in her book ‘Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle’. While she met many dangers on the road, she described her worst incident as tripping over cats at home and shattering her left arm.
Bettina Selby was a late comer to the tribe: “At the age of 47 I found myself free of commitments. I decided the time had at last come to do what I had long wanted, namely, to see something of the wilder regions of the world. I had already discovered the eminent suitability of a bicycle for travel and exploration, and so, with little more ado, I set out to see something of the Himalayas.” What followed were two decades of cycle ventures. Selby’s many travels include two journeys covering the full lengths of the Nile and the Niger from end to end (http://bettinaselby.com).
Anne Mustoe had even passed her 50th anniversary before starting her epic bike journeys, documented in several books. This is how she described her moment of inspiration according to her Wikipedia entry: “Somewhere in Rajasthan she looked out of the bus window and saw a cyclist, a solitary European man, pedalling across the immensity of the Great Thar Desert. She said, ‘I was seized with sudden envy. I wanted to be out there myself on that road on a bicycle, alone and free, feeling the reality of India, not gazing at it through a pane of glass.’ It was the bicycle which had immediate appeal. ‘I made up my mind that morning that I would cycle across India. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I should stop at India. While I was at it, why not cycle round the world?’” Anne Mustoe died in 2009, aged 76 in Syria (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/6790125/Anne-Mustoe.html).
Scanning the web reveals more female solo riders on the road right now:
Currently in nearby Ethiopia is Loretta Henderson (http://www.skalatitude.com). She covered quite a bit of the planet solo, but is currently exploring Africa with a travel companion. “What started as going to England to buy a bicycle has gotten out of hand”, is how she describes what started all this. The end of it is not yet in sight. Loretta, we hope to see you in Nairobi, soon!
Jill Sherlock, cycling all the way East and then a little further, is an excellent writer. Like that of many other cyclists, Jill Sherlock’s motivation boils down to just not wanting to fly: “Being a notoriously unlucky flyer – hijacked, volcanic ash victim, aborted landings, cancellations, not booked on flights, wheels falling off planes, struck by lightning – and also a non-driver I thought it would be an idea to head off East on my bicycle. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time…” Read her highly recommended blog at http://sherlocktales.blogspot.com.
Eleanor Moseman is a photographer on two wheels. On her way, she documents the culture and people of the religious minorities: Uyghurs and Tibetans. It’s a fantastic way to combine travel and meaningful work. See her amazing pictures on http://www.wandercyclist.com. What job could you combine with cycling the world?
Helen Lloyd cycled across Africa and she is not afraid of anything, it seems. Her travel statistics include: “Marriage proposals: 29*; Most books I had in my panniers at any given time: 15; Cycle tourers met in Africa: 6; Number of times I have worn a bike helmet: 2; Bribes demanded: 3; Bribes paid: 0; Books read: 55; Beers drunk: 491; Average kilometres cycled per beer: 34.9” Follow her amazing travels at www.takeonafrica.com and do not miss her pics: http://takeonafrica.com/the-photo-project/50-images-of-africa/ – and her non-solo follow up journey through the America’s: http://helenstakeon.com/
And these are only a few of the women, who actually maintain a blog or web-presence. I have met more preferring to travel without online exposure: the 67 year old lady deep in the Australian Outback, cheerful Kate traversing Europe with the worst travel bike I have ever seen (a Black Mamba would have been infinitely superior) and Ruth and Eva who spent about 5 minutes between idea and implementation of their European trip. May the road rise with all of you, may the wind be on your back and may many follow in your tracks!
The trigger for this blog post was the premature death of my friend and world cyclist Krista Bernard (www.ridehimalaya.com/kristabike.html). We traversed Australia’s Central Desert together just days after we first met 17 years ago. She cycled from Indonesia to Egypt on her own and from England to Pakistan with her soul-mate D. Thank you, Krista, for inspiring me and many others. The turn of the bicycle wheel was your analogy for life. We’ll keep the wheels turning in your memory.
Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ This Planet! ❤ Cycling!