This blog is written by RIPPLE Africa Project & Volunteer Coordinator, Nikki Luxford
I’m always looking for that next challenge in my life, and mainly something that I can do to not only push myself but to raise funds for causes close to my heart. And have I found a challenge to do!!
Whilst in Malawi last year a volunteer (now friend) Rebecca and I were having a natter as we looked over the beautiful Lake Malawi.
I mentioned that I’d love to one day cycle across Africa, exploring the majestic and stunning continent that I’ve fallen head over in heels in love with. Rebecca agreed that that would be an amazing achievement.
It’s probably a far-fetched dream as I hadn’t been cycling since I was a teenager and the first time I got back on a bike was in Malawi (and they weren’t very good bikes).
Sam (another volunteer) and I did manage a six hour cycle ride in the blazing African sun and that was challenging enough. As I write this I realise I’m mad but once I’ve set myself a challenge, I have to complete it.
Anyways, back to the story.
After some discussion and realising the route we wanted to take would be around 4,000km (approx. 2,500miles) Becky and I thought it best to be more realistic to push ourselves with a different cycling challenge.
Instead of travelling through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi we’re going to be taking in the sights of the west-coast of England through Wales and into Scotland. Yes, we’ve decided to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). We’re swapping 4,000km and aiming for 1,450km (approx. 900miles).
Fingers crossed we make it!
Although I already know it, everyone I’ve told has looked at me as if I’m mad and informed me that this is no easy feat to achieve. I realise that lots of training is required to get me not only physically fit but mentally prepared too. One cyclist told me that it isn’t about the cycling but getting used to sitting on the saddle for hours at a time. Bicycle saddles – they’re not that comfortable are they?
I don’t know when I’ll have the time, funds or fitness to tackle Africa on two wheels but the aim is to complete the LEJOG cycle in April 2017 over a two week period, averaging 100km per day.
As part of the build up to this challenge Rebecca and I have decided to spend a few days in Scotland this August and tackle a 320km (approx. 200mile) cycle ride.
After sharing the idea and challenge with friends and family we’ve recruited a few others to join the LEJOG cycle next year. And whilst we are doing the Scotland ‘fun’ challenge this summer, it’s the LEJOG challenge which will be the big event to raise funds for RIPPLE Africa.
If you know anyone who might be either interested in taking up this challenge or who might want to sponsor an aspect of the cycle, then please let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the training begin…if our cycling and laughter in Malawi was anything to go by, it’s going to be a tough but laughter-filled challenge!
Me and Becky
If you’d like to experience Malawi yourself and are interested in volunteering, take a peek at what’s available here.