If you sit on a bicycle in western China and ride it for 18,226 km you should eventually end up somewhere near Cape Town in South Africa. And that’s exactly what we did. After 326 days, 17 countries, an inordinate amount of coca-cola and a few hiccups along the way, we rolled into Cape Town Waterfront today on the same bicycles that departed Kashgar in mid-May last year. Bodies and bikes are still in one piece after taking a bit of a hammering over the last eleven months, though crucially, the marriage is still intact.
One of the most frequent questions we’ve encountered over the last few months is what we consider to have been the hardest part of our trip. Without a doubt, the most difficult part of this journey for us was deciding to start it. This required giving up our jobs, forgoing income for a year, locking up our possessions in a warehouse and deciding to sacrifice almost all of our savings; all of which seemed very counter intuitive at this stage of life.
Was it all worth it? Absolutely.
A few words of thanks are necessary at this point, to the people who have helped make the last year pass as smoothly as it has.
Firstly, to our expedition chief Tom Rock, who has diligently watched over our progress since day one and who has juggled his responsibility of becoming a first-time father with tracking our slow progress during the last year. Excellent work Tom, you can take tomorrow off.
To the several folks who helped provide security information as we approached some of the more dubious countries. Specifically, to Brian Beckett and staff at Plan International, Jon Williamson and the security advisors at BG Group, and to Tim McNeill at MI6. Collectively, you managed to cut a relatively smooth path for us.
Thanks also to the many people who have seen us at various stages along the way, usually providing a much-needed bed, a feed and a drink, including:
Imogen and his family in Osh Guesthouse, for your invaluable help in getting us on our feet and on our way. To Jane and Haydn Johnson for sharing the joys of Istanbul with us and shipping almost an entire bicycle in their suitcase. To our most frequently met companions: Jos and Gary. Tristan, Phillipa & Jamie for a wonderful evening of whiskey and good chat in Nanyuki. To Victor for his invaluable wheel fixing connections. Jon and Jude for the Christmas Fajitas in Nairobi. The superb hospitality and New Year celebrations shared with Claire and Niall in Arusha (and of course our very memorable Crater experience). To Nicky at Kisolanza Farm for transforming an overnight stop into three nights of great food and comfort. Neels and Georg at the Kings Highway for all the information and connections south of Zambia, and to Moses for welcoming us to his family home.
To Colin and Natasha in Lusaka for a weekend of good times (and oddly, shoes). Paul & Irena and all at the Mkushi Country Club, for showing unbelievable levels of hospitality and kindness to two complete strangers. To Jocasta & Barbara for a weekend of sheer indulgence on the banks of the Zambezi. To Murrae & Miles Godbold for introducing us to the wonders of the Chobe River, and finally, to Duncan and Cath for our stay in Swakopmund and the home-cooked Michelin star cuisine.
Thank you also to all of those that showed up today at Cape Town Waterfront and provided what turned out to be a fitting end to this journey. We appreciate it.
Thanks to you all. Here’s to the next chapter.
Very many congratulations to you both. We’ve followed your trip with enthusiasm and amazement – and a tiny bit of jealousy! Enjoy your well-earned rest! With lots of love and much admiration, Andrew and Amanda x
I’ve loved following your posts. Just amazing what you’ve achieved! Congratulations!!
The Hadleys from Karratha
What to say? Amazing. Wow. Incredible. Superlative of your choice.
Not surprised that you both made it but I’m very much in awe. You have inspired a lot of people with this journey, myself included. Looking forward to hearing more about it.
If you have any pennys left in the kitty then there is a direct flight from Jburg to Bangkok and you’re very welcome and we’d love to have you over.
Very glad that you’re still married!
Speak to you soon,
Well done guys – very solid effort! Make sure you let me know next time you’re in London. Cheers Stu
Congratulations guys, a fantastic achievement! What a journey and loved living vicariously through it. Is it the end or just the beginning??? Enjoy the time out of the saddle – you can stop peddling now. Si, V, Hamish & Lucy
Dear Fran and Phil
Cape Town hey, what a beautiful place to finish your epic journey. I have thoroughly enjoyed the way you wrote your blog, marvelled at your stories, admired your photos and now am in awe of the kilometres you have covered. Do you ever want to sit on a bike again? Or is this the start of more epic journeys. Congratulations on living your dream.
Well done to you both,hope to see you both in the not too distant future. Sorry we couldn’t be in Cape Town.Jo and Rob
Wunderfull to see that you made it. Enjoy the great victory and the aftermatch. We hope you really enjoyed the trip. We are still in Egypt and will start the journey at around october. We think to do the same in a time range of two or three years.
Ciao, Isa & Youri http://www.ithaka.im
ps: we met eachother in turkey :-0
What an awesome trip. Have very much enjoyed following each step as you have progressed around the world. When is the book coming out? Michael
Hi Mike! Great to hear from you. The book may be easier than having to sort through our thousands of photo’s! Hope you’re well
Absolutely fantastic, congratulations from all the lads here! Stumbled across your blog by coincidence and have been following your journey since Ethiopia.
The project of a lifetime and you did it. Awesome.