Cardiff cyclist completes ride across Africa in 28 days
A man has cycled 1,756 miles across Africa, dodging wild elephants and snakes along the route of his marathon challenge.
Matthew Myerscough, from Cardiff, set off on the coast-to-coast challenge in Beira, Mozambique, on 2 April and reached his destination of Swakopmund in Namibia in 28 days.
The 37-year-old civil engineer covered between 50 and 124 miles a day.
“It’s definitely been very challenging physically,” Mr Myerscough said.
Crossing a huge section of the Kalahari desert in one day, with nowhere to buy a drink, was a particularly demanding section of the trip, during which he raised money for charity.
“Doing it by myself has been fantastic and rewarding… but when you have the lows… you’ve got to pick yourself up and there’s no one else to do that,” he said, speaking from Windhoek, Namibia, after 26 days of cycling.
He faced many other challenges on his journey from the Indian Ocean across Mozambique, into Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands region, across Botswana and into Namibia.
“Every night… you’re looking for somewhere safe to stay, trying to replenish supplies,” he said.
He slept in lodges and guest houses, and camped in a small lightweight tent he carried with him.
In Mozambique, he found a toad living in a small pool of water in the corner of his room and, on other occasions, he spotted cockroaches and scarab beetles in his room and a praying mantis on the bed.
Despite having no-one alongside him for all but the end of the ride, he was helped along the way.
“I’ve been met with such kindness,” he said. “People go out of their way to help.”
He was given free beer and offered a hot bath by one couple impressed by his endeavour, slept in a vacant classroom after meeting a school teacher and camped outside a policeman’s house.
Distances between settlements were vast in Botswana in particular, he said.
He resorted to camping after a 95-mile ride – although he was aiming for a settlement 125 miles away – and woke to the sounds of elephants crashing in the undergrowth.
“I cycled past quite a lot of elephant footprints… so I knew there were elephants in the area.”
After settling down for an “uneasy” night, he heard the animals around his tent in the middle of the night.
“They never came to the tent but when you’re lying in a tiny tent and you can hear them around you… it was a highlight of the trip,” he said.
He cycled along main roads but often went for 30 minutes without seeing a vehicle.
On some sections he stuck to the middle of the road to avoid surprising elephants, and elsewhere he saw honey badgers crossing the road.
Once, resting on a bench under a tree, he felt something brush past his ear and then land at his feet.
“This large snake had dropped out of the tree and landed in the sand,” he said.
“That was quite an interesting moment. If it had wanted to it could have bitten me.”
Nutrition was also challenging.
“Cycling long distances between places, it’s hard to have proper meals,” said Mr Myerscough.
Some days he just had biscuits and snacks in the absence of opportunities for a meal.
He completed his fundraising challenge for Diabetes UK on Saturday, reaching the town of Swakopmund, on the Namibian coast, within his 30-day target and in time for his flight home on Tuesday.
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