In 2018 I was in my late fifties, laughably unfit and desperate for adventure.
I did what anyone would do – I sold, donated and gave-away my possessions, traded my home for a tent and set off cycling towards Africa.
I was bitten by the travel bug decades ago and independent, adventurous travel is still the life-blood that courses through my veins. No other form of travel satisfies me more and, despite advanced age, I’m not ready to hang up the rucksack and book a cruise yet.
It used to worry me that I’ve reached my late fifties with no wife, no children and no significant ties. Why the semi-hermit life?
Travel and adventure, I’ve come to realise, are the reasons why I am where I am in life. Love of travel has been more important to me than everything else. And while that love continues, so does the search for adventure.
Too many people regard independent travel abroad – particularly alone – as brave. They argue that these are dangerous times: “There’s too many mad, bad or dangerous people out there. Anything could happen,” they warn. “Don’t you watch the news?”
I understand; bad news is everywhere. A mugging, a stabbing, another gun rampage—is it safe to leave the house? Terrorist atrocities, at home or abroad, make some people wary of leaving the familiarity of their own surroundings. Meeting and trusting a stranger, especially in a foreign land, is scary.
In reality, despite the apparent dangers, the world is full of hard-working, honest and helpful people; it’s more common for a stranger to help rather than harm you.
Cycling alone around Africa I depend on the kindness and benevolence of people who haven’t met me before, won’t see me again and gain nothing by helping me. A lot rides on trust—literally.
There isn’t much of a plan. Cycle south from the UK to the Mediterranean sea then catch a ferry to Africa. Then cycle down through western Africa all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, then back up the eastern side. Or the other way around. Whatever.
After Africa? Who knows. Maybe to the Far East and onwards around the world.
Travelling under my own power on a bike is a great way to let the adventure develop in its own way and at its own pace; there’s no actual destination so there’s no real hurry. Delays and detours are acceptable—encouraged, even.
I’ve travelled and flown a lot so my carbon footprint is large enough. I wanted this adventure to be entirely overland. That opened up Europe, the Middle East, the whole of Asia and the entire African continent; all of which are reachable, without flying, from the UK.
I decided on Africa because:
- I’m already familiar with the Middle East and Asia.
- I’m not a fan of cold weather so prefer to head south, towards the equator.
- Africa is an enormous continent. There are 54 countries which will provide me with all the adventure I could possibly want for two, three or even more years.
And to be honest, Africa excites me because I really don’t know what to expect.
Hobo Bidi blog
This Hobo Bidi blog documents the adventures of an over-fifty cyclist wandering aimlessly around Africa by bike. It also demonstrates two things:
- Independent and adventurous travel is for everyone, including those over fifty.
- The world is a much safer place than the News would have you believe.
Cycling allows me to travel slowly; slow enough to truly take in the surroundings and the people.
My ‘bike’ is an off-road recumbent touring trike. It’s a one-off and specially built for this adventure by Azub in the Czech Republic.
Learn more about the Hobo Bidi trike