A new continent!

September 24, 2019

After our couple of days of misery in the rain we made good progress to Gibraltar. The weather is great and not too hot to cycle. The only bad thing on our road is the road itself.

Highway of hell

Once we pass by Malaga we don’t have many options left to cycle. We can choose between the highway or smaller mountain roads. It is actually possible to cycle on some sort of highway following the coastline, giving us a good road to cycle on with not too many hills. Still we decide to go for the mountain roads because, come on? A highway? We don’t have a death wish handbiking on a road where cars pass by at 120km an hour!

Up the hill

We decide to take the harder way, but it pays off. Magnificent views following smaller villages and quieter roads making us feel much safer. A couple of days later, trying to navigate these safer roads, we finally reach our main goal with Frank, Gibraltar! A very special moment since we shared this common goal for more than 3000km now and I’m very proud we achieved this together. We had a great time biking here and had a great team supporting us too. Many thanks to the people who came to help us in this amazing achievement Frank has completed!

Getting ready for a new continent

In Gibraltar we take some time to explore the area and I’m preparing for the crossing of the strait. The weather seems fairly good on the 23rd and Chris from Watersports training prepares the support boat. As I explained in a previous post it is necessary to have a support vessel, it is a very busy shipping lane and chances are that authorities will pick you up, especially if you distort traffic. The next day I cycle to Algeciras where we will leave the 23rd by kayak. They have arranged a kayak for me which is not the most fast one for a crossing like that. I’m curious how this will go.

Crossing the Strait

We get up early and prepare everything for the day. Frank and the support team are able to follow me on the boat so I have a cheering (or mocking ;p ) team along the way. The first hour in the water was pretty easy but after a while the wind started to pick up to about 20 knots coming from the West. The surface current goes the same direction and I get splashed all the time by the waves. No problem at all but taking a good rest is not an option as I risk missing Ceuta completely if I drift off too much. I keep on paddling and when I take a small break to drink I drift away at about 4knots (!) to the east.

Digging deep

I keep on pushing it and it’s getting hard to maintain my speed. I have lot’s of experience in rowing but kayaking is completely different so my efficiency is not what it has to be. Combine that with a simple sit-on-top kayak and it becomes a challenge, loving it!!! After about 5 and a half hours (30km) I hit the beach in Ceuta (Spain, Africa), tired but fulfilled about my effort. I reached Africa human powered! After a quick rest we sail back to Algeciras. I need to get back to Belgium for personal reasons and I leave my bike there. I will come back half of November to continue cycling to Kilimanjaro. Getting back to Belgium I’m doing by bus and train, just to avoid taking a plane. It’s not the easiest nor the cheapest of choices but it feels like still manageable to get back.

Africa!

many thanks to my sponsors who make this project happen!