It’s difficult to imagine that 3 months ago, 20 complete strangers met for the first time in Cairo to commence an adventure that will change their lives. We were about to ride our motorbikes across the length of Africa, over 18,000 kilometres, through 12 countries and now, 3 months later, we are in Cape Town, having completed that journey and that group of strangers have become life long friends.
It will take us all some time to really reflect back on these past 3 months but one thing we have learned is that Africa is the most amazing, challenging, scary, beautiful, frustrating, intimidating, welcoming and exhilarating places in the world. It is truly a continent of contrasts and to do it on a motorbike lifts that experience to another level altogether.
We started with 16 motorbikes and 16 riders and we finished the same way. The oldest rider in the group is 74 and the youngest is just 23, that’s an age gap of more than 50 years. We came from Australia, USA, England, Canada and France. We are coal miners, engineers, doctors, CEO’s, sailors, stuntmen and optometrists yet despite all the differences, we became a group of great mates looking after each other during an adventure of a lifetime.
The past few weeks have probably been some of the most challenging riding of the trip. There was a lot of soft sand and gravel roads throughout Namibia and there were a couple of “offs” but everybody bounced back and rode the final leg into the Cape of Good Hope outside of Cape Town. It was an amazing feeling riding that final leg of the journey.
For one of the guys, that ride was probably the most nerve wracking of his entire life. He was on a quest; waiting at the finish line was his girlfriend and he was about to ask for her hand in marriage. He was like a cat on a hot tin roof for weeks and as good mates do, we wound him up even more. Fortunately, she said, “Yes”. It would have been very awkward if she didn’t! Hopefully we‘ll be invited to the wedding next year.
The bikes were taken to the shipping container this morning and will be on their way home in a few days. The 4WD and trailer are being packed for England, where they will be prepared for another “Road Of Bones” adventure. That’s 30,000 kilometres from London to Siberia for some of the Compass team next year with one of the Cairo to Cape Town riders has already booking on that adventure.
Over the next few days we will be moving onto the next phases of our lives. Some of us are flying home, going back to work, seeing family and friends again, others continue their adventures, one of us has a new fiancé, but in some way we will all remain connected despite the distances and our circumstances. That’s what happens when you share such an adventure, the good and the bad.
We are now part of a very elite group of motorbike riders that have ridden the length of Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town. It’s a proud feeling to be part of that small group, especially alongside such good mates.