Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bicycling Trip in Africa: Part 1

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Bicycling is good exercise and is fun. To help motivate me to keep doing it, I track my bicycling distance on Google Maps as if I were riding my bike around the world. I started in October 2009:

North America: Durham to Alaska, 10/8/09 - 2/21/12, 4,629 miles
Australia: Sydney to Perth, 2/23/12 - 4/27/13, 2,473 miles
Asia, Part 1: Singapore to New Delhi, 5/21/13 - 1/3/15, 3,902 miles
Asia, Part 2: New Delhi to Istanbul, 1/3/15 - 7/26/16, 3,586 miles
Europe: Istanbul to Tarifa, 7/26/16 - 8/28/17, 2,576 miles
Africa, Part 1: Tangier to Lagos, 4,039 miles
Africa, Part 2: Lagos to Cape Town, 4,561 miles
South America, Part 1: Ushuaia to Iquique, approx 3,200 miles
South America, Part 2: Iquique to Turbo, approx 3,000 miles
North America return: Yaviza to Durham, approx 4,200 miles

That's a total of 17,166 miles completed so far, with about 19,000 miles remaining. So over the last 8+ years, I've biked the equivalent distance from North Carolina to Alaska, and then across three other continents (Australia, Asia, Europe)...and I'm still not halfway done.

Africa is going to be a grind, too. It's a bigger continent than people realize, since many popular map projections misrepresent its true size. Also, I'm not taking the most direct route from north (Morocco) to south (South Africa, obviously), because a trip through the middle of the Sahara Desert or the jungles of Central Africa would be boring, with long stretches of few, if any, points of interest. Even though I'm only riding my bike across Africa on a pretend basis, occasional points of interest are still important, because that's part of what helps motivate me to push a little farther. ("Only 50 miles to Barcelona! Maybe I'll bike a little farther so I can get there today.") Also, there are a lot of small countries along the West African coast that I would totally miss if I traveled in a straight line from Algeria to Nigeria*. So, instead of taking a direct route down the continent, I'm basically hugging the coast, even if it takes me a bit longer.

(* - Fun fact! If you ask Google to give you directions from Morocco to Nigeria, it takes you back into Spain and then onto a ferry from Spain to Algeria. Why the heck does it do that? Because...the Morocco-Algeria border has been closed for over 20 years.)

Here's another thing that motivates me - keeping up a good pace:

North America: 37.4 miles per week
Australia: 40.3 miles per week
Asia Part 1: 46.1 miles per week
Asia Part 2: 44.0 miles per week
Europe: 45.3 miles per week

Motivation to keep that weekly average up helps get me on my bike every single week. A week off absolutely kills the average. Can't have that! Dipping back below 40 miles per week would be absolutely unacceptable! Easier said then done, though - often the problem isn't laziness, it's finding the time, or sometimes weather. North Carolina is a nice place to be in that you can bike year-round, except for a winter storm or two each year. (Part of the reason the Asia Part 1 average is higher than the Asia Part 2 average is because Part 1 coincided with just one winter, while Part 2 coincided with two winters.)

"Well...why don't you just BIKE FASTER???" Actually, I am! I got bike shoes that attach to the pedals last year ("clipless pedals" as they're known, which is a dumb name, but oh well). That alone improved my average speed by 1 to 1.5 miles per hour. That doesn't sound like much, but without upgrading the equipment, riding 15.0 mph instead of 13.5 mph requires a LOT more effort. But thanks to my equipment upgrade, I can ride 45 miles in the same amount of time that I used to be able to ride 40 miles. Again, that doesn't sound like that much of a difference, but those extra miles add up.

While my route through Europe had 100% Google Street View coverage, my route through Africa has, at most, 15% coverage: Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, and that's it. They could add more countries in the next few years (come on, Namibia!), but chances are, I'll be doing this pretend Africa bike ride without knowing what most of the landscape looks like. Like I said, Africa is going to be kind of a grind. But, maybe I'll have an excuse to get a new bike sometime soon. Almost all of the Asia+Europe miles came on the same bike.

LAST UPDATE: 13 Dec 2017 (usually updated every other week)

This Google Map shows my progress. Each placemark indicates one week. Blue route = completed route. The routes shown on the map may not be exact, but are close enough for my purposes.

Current road: N1
Current location: Guelmim, Guelmim-Es Semara, Morocco
Total distance traveled (Africa): 601 miles in 15 weeks
Total distance traveled (World): 17,767 miles in 423 weeks
29 Nov - 6 Dec distance: 51 miles (ranked 5th / 15 weeks)
6 Dec - 13 Dec distance: 36 miles (ranked 11th / 15 weeks)
Tangier, Morocco to Lagos: 14.9% complete (3,438 miles to go)
Tangier, Morocco to Cape Town: 6.9% complete (7,999 miles to go)

Upcoming points of interest

Guelmim: 7 miles
Tan-Tan: 87 miles
Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra region: 136 miles
Western Sahara border: 236 miles
Laayoune: 278 miles

Time spent in each country
(Italics: in progress. This includes all of Africa. Individual states/provinces also listed for the current country.)

Morocco: 105 days (601/837 miles, 40 miles/week)
- Tangier-Tetouan: 8 days (67 miles, 59 miles/week)
- Gharb-Chrarda-Beni Hssen: 10 days (70 miles, 49 miles/week)
- Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer: 3 days (40 miles, 93 miles/week)
- Grand Casablanca: 4 days (30 miles, 53 miles/week)
- Chaouia-Ouardigha: 21 days (75 miles, 25 miles/week)
- Doukkala-Abda: 3 days (5 miles, 12 miles/week)
- Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz: 24 days (159 miles, 46 miles/week)
- Souss-Massa-Draa: 29 days (138 miles, 33 miles/week)
- Guelmim-Es Semara: 3 days (17/153 miles, 40 miles/week)
- Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra: (100 miles)
Western Sahara: (558 miles)
Mauritania: (401 miles)
Senegal: (494 miles)
Guinea: (713 miles)
Cote d'Ivoire: (525 miles)
Ghana: (340 miles)
Togo: (33 miles)
Benin: (84 miles)
Nigeria: (542 miles)
Cameroon: (515 miles)
Gabon: (506 miles)
Republic of Congo: (382 miles)
DR Congo: (150 miles)
Angola: (1,140 miles)
Namibia: (958 miles)
South Africa: (422 miles)

Trip log

30 Aug 2017: Start of Africa - Tangier ferry terminal
30 Aug 2017: City - Tangier, Morocco
7 Sep 2017: Region - Gharb-Chrarda-Beni Hssen, Morocco
17 Sep 2017: City - Kenitra, Morocco
17 Sep 2017: Region - Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, Morocco
17 Sep 2017: City - Rabat, Morocco
20 Sep 2017: Region - Chaouia-Ouardigha, Morocco
23 Sep 2017: Region - Grand Casablanca, Morocco
25 Sep 2017: City - Casablanca, Morocco
27 Sep 2017: Region - Chaouia-Ouardigha, Morocco (re-entry)
15 Oct 2017: Region - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz, Morocco
28 Oct 2017: City - Marrakesh, Morocco
1 Nov 2017: Region - Doukkala-Abda, Morocco
4 Nov 2017: Region - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz, Morocco (re-entry)
11 Nov 2017: Region - Souss-Massa-Draa, Morocco
18 Nov 2017: City - Agadir, Morocco
3 Dec 2017: City - Tiznit, Morocco
10 Dec 2017: Region - Guelmim-Es Semara, Morocco

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