1. What was the initial appeal of doing a cycling trip?
The initial appeal arose out of a strong desire to challenge myself on a totally different level. Having changed my lifestyle to lose about 35 kilograms after leaving high school, I have come to thrive on physical challenges. Cycling the length of Africa is a step up from anything I have done in the past, and represents a significant challenge! These physical challenges are so closely linked to one’s mental frame of mind, and to be able to tap into previously untapped areas of the mind, was another intriguing part of the adventure.
2. In your experience, what makes cycling a better way of traveling?
Cycling brings one so close to the most real people one could ever hope to meet. When a person travels at a slower pace than automated vehicles generally do, and often through areas off the beaten track, the traveler is afforded the privilege of getting to know the people most people will never meet; the people totally unaffected by tourism. This, for me is the greatest incentive for cycling through a country. I may not have seen all the tourist attractions, but I got to meet the most beautiful, wonderful people I could ever hope to meet.
3. Please describe an experience or event that you would have never had if you had been traveling in a more conventional way.
Two things stand out for me. In Cambodia, during my longest, toughest day on the road, had I not been cycling, I would never have been invited to share lunch with a wonderfully gracious Cambodian family. This young guy saw me pedaling at a snail’s pace, totally exhausted, turned his scooter around and came to chat. He had a bunch of bananas and gave me one to eat as I pedaled alongside him. He could see that I was on my last legs, and, knowing that there was nowhere to eat for miles, he offered me lunch at his house with his family. They were such a wonderful family, with very little in terms of worldly wealth, but only too happy to feed me and have me as a guest in their home!
In Vietnam, something that very few people really experience is the famous Hai Van Pass. This pass,between Hoi An and Hue is truly a sight to behold. While some may travel over it and admire the views from the top, my bicycle and I got to live every second of that climb and descent!
Oh,and if I had not been stuck in Mui Ne with my bicycle,I may never have met Connie and Matt. That would be tragic!
4. What is the best advice you can give to travelers interested in going on their own long-haul cycling trip?
A trip of this nature may seem daunting at first, but if you commit to it with all your heart, you are guaranteed an absolute mountain of memories which will touch your heart! The physical and mental exertion is hugely demanding, but the consequent heightened senses and awareness make every experience so much more powerful. Truly rewarding. Commit to it, and everything will fall into place.
5. Can you please tell us more about Through Africa for Africa and what brought about the idea of it?
Through Africa For Africa is a project which is nearly 2 years in the making. It is an attempt at experiencing the real Africa, while at the same time, trying to make my humble contribution to the African continent. The basic idea is to cycle the length of Africa and try my best to make a real, tangible difference to the lives of those my cycling partner and I will meet, rather than just handing over cash.
This concept came about because I believe that generous people who are willing to give of their own money, are often so far removed from their donation. We do not see any direct consequence of our contribution, and this is where Through Africa For Africa is unique. I hope that through our efforts, we are able to bring the donor closer to their donation.
6. Where is your next big cycling trip going to be?
Through Africa For Africa is the project I am working on now. We will cycle from Egypt, through Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, before cycling in to our little home town of Ballito, South Africa.
7. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a bike?
Without a shadow of a doubt, braving the roads of Vietnam each and every day…
Ricki is truly an inspiring traveler and both Matt and I feel lucky to have run into him in Vietnam! Good luck with Through Africa For Africa, Ricki! You’re doing a great thing and we’re looking forward to hearing your stories and seeing your photos from Africa!
For more information on Ricki, his charity bike trip and to make donations, please visit Through Africa For Africa.
© Connie Hum 2011