On Thursday 19th November 2015, the three remaining members of the CAROCAP Cycling Team rolled into Cape Town, thirty-eight days after setting out on their world record attempt. By the time they reached the three quarters point the original team of six riders had been whittled down to three riders by sickness and fatigue, but they still managed to break the existing record by four days.
Nicholas Bourne(UK), Mark Blewett(South Africa) and David Martin(Zimbabwe) were the final three riders who made it to Cape Town. The CAROCAP Cycling Team had left Cairo, starting under the gaze of the Great Pyramids at Giza and powered through nine countries on their way South.
Each day stated at 0400 and involved ten hours of riding every day, with the team avoiding the middle of the day when temperatures were at their highest. The team had to ride on a wide variety of surfaces from tarmac to mud, to gravel and mud. It says a lot for the quality of their Swift Carbon bikes and Vittoria tyres and wheels, that they suffered very few mechanicals along the way. Speaking about one section in Ethiopia Mark Blewett said “today was categorically the most dangerous, hectic descent of my life. Rutted roads, trucks, kids, donkes, heat, huge potholes. And the climb out was 19km”.
With this kind of hell to get through, plus the difficulties in getting safe and nutritious food for the riders, the damage to the riders began to add up. Kenyan cycling hero David Kinjah – founder of the Safari Simbaz – had to give up after crashing and suffering from saddle sores, he told the team ” this is it guys! This is the ride that actually cracked me! It’s amazing how much the human body can endure, but the sores on my bum cannot be patched with just bandages anymore. The crash in the rain on the Tanzam Highway left my knee and hip in too much pain… Last night when (I) arrived, I could not un-clip my right foot off the pedal, so I removed my shoe instead”.
The riders also had to overcome logistical and bureaucratic problems, as well as bandits that lost them a day due to re-routing and another day to sickness, but they battled on through horrendous headwinds, raging temperatures, suspect food and scorpion infested camp sites. The team expect the record will be broken as Africa’s infrastructure improves, but breaking the record wasn’t the only motivation behinds the attempt. In the team’s words they said “it was to inspire future generations to pursue their studies in order to secure their future careers. Be it in medicine, science, technology, or engineering by showcasing these subjects and how they relate to the human body and the equipment the team depended upon to achieve their goal.”
For a more in depth report check out the CAROCAP page of their official bike sponsor, Swift Carbon. As a final note, you may have heard of CAROCAP’s Nicholas Bourne before, he’s one of the organisers of the three day Tour of Wessex sportive and also the holder of the world record for… running the length of Africa!
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