Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Posts: 2
Joined: 11 Jan 2010, 9:17am

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby Illcomewith » 11 Jan 2010, 9:29am

Hi Lindsey, I read the article in the meto paper today and am very interested in your trip. Are you still looking for someone to go with you? I have been saving up to go travelling - I was going to go to Mexico and US - and have good level of fitness. Sorry this message is a bit short but I am at work and i have spent most of the morning trying to find a way to contact you (the email address in the article didn't work).

You can contact me directly on

Posts: 1
Joined: 11 Jan 2010, 9:59pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby scottgardner1976 » 11 Jan 2010, 10:12pm

Lindsey - I also tried to email you... but the metro quoted address is incorrect...

What is the correct address to send you an email??


Posts: 26
Joined: 6 Jun 2007, 7:46pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby AndrewClark » 12 Jan 2010, 10:23pm

It sounds like a wonderful trip but I'm too much of a coward to quit my job & kiss the pension goodbye :oops:

If you haven't already read it take a look at Al Humphries "Moods of Future Joys" detailing his ride to South Africa and onwards. Ted Simon's books (motorcycling) are also worth reading. ... d_i=468294

I think Al posts on BikeMagic, ThornTree and possibly BikeRadar. ThornTree may be the best site for serious overland touring. Also check out the American "Adventure Cycling" site, they have a forum with a "partners wanted" section.

Hope you have a wonderful time and a safe journey.


Posts: 1
Joined: 12 Jan 2010, 10:53pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby WillDowsett » 12 Jan 2010, 11:11pm

Hi Lindsey,

I read your 'wanted' article in the Metro and am very interested. I have been a keen cyclist for several years now and agree with you that it is a great way to see the world.

I became keen on cycling when studying at High Wycombe so I know some parts of the Chilterns and Buckinghamshire quite well as that is where I did most of my training when I cycled from John O'Groats to Lands end several years ago. Most of my hobbies are sports so I have done several Marathons, Hikes and other events.

I to am unemployed with no commitments and would very much like to discus the possibility of joining you on your adventure. I believe the e-mail address supplied by the metro was wrong so could you contact me at

Look forward to hearing from you.

Will Dowsett

User avatar
Posts: 4835
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby andrew_s » 14 Jan 2010, 7:16pm

Said metro article being here: ... -companion

Pity my leave only runs to 5 weeks :(

User avatar
Posts: 486
Joined: 15 Apr 2009, 3:13am
Location: On my bike

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby shane » 14 Jan 2010, 9:45pm

Heres a link for a guy thats doing something similar maybe you haven't seen it yet, maybe you can get some ideas, tips form him and his website.

I'm planning a similar trip but need to save up for another couple of year yet (and brainwash the Mrs into finding cycling fun....that'll be the hardest part of the whole trip)..

Have fun and my moto is just get on with it!!!!!

Posts: 208
Joined: 31 Oct 2008, 7:03pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby amaferanga » 15 Jan 2010, 12:18pm

I've cycled a lot in Africa and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone. I know its different for me as I'm a bloke, but its much less dangerous than people (most of whom have never been there and only see Africa in the news when there's a famine) think it is.

My only comments on your planned trip would be:

1) 5 months to get from the UK to SA will mean you'll be taking a fairly direct route through Africa - down the East I guess (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc.)? That means main roads which are BORING compared to the minor roads. I know cycling from your doorstep is great, but with only 5 months I'd be tempted to hop on a plane to Egypt and go from there (I think you may have to take lifts through bits of Egypt anyway as the tourist police don't like unaccompanied cyclists) giving you more time to take some detours away from the main roads and meet 'real' people.

2) SA will be a huge anticlimax to your trip

3) Leave the gadgets (phone, laptop, gps, etc.) behind, especially the phone. You'll be able to call home or email in almost any big town or city. Trips like these are all about cutting yourself off from your normal life IMO and mobile phones just get in the way of that. Tell your family you'll be in touch every few weeks (I used to add a week or so on to the time I thought it would take me to reach the next big town or city so I wouldn't worry my parents unnecessarily - even if something did happen there's nothing they can do anyway and you'd be at the mercy of the (usually wonderful) African people)

4) Don't buy cheapo pannier racks - buy the best (Tubus or Old Man Mountain) and there's a chance you won't break them.

5) Enjoy it!

Posts: 208
Joined: 31 Oct 2008, 7:03pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby amaferanga » 15 Jan 2010, 12:23pm

Oh and I'd recommend you get hold of some of Dervla Murphy's books on travelling/cycling in Africa. They're from some time ago, but she definitely had the right attitude and an amazing spirit for adventure.

Posts: 10
Joined: 2 Jan 2010, 6:52pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby lindseycole » 15 Jan 2010, 2:33pm

amaferanga wrote:Oh and I'd recommend you get hold of some of Dervla Murphy's books on travelling/cycling in Africa. They're from some time ago, but she definitely had the right attitude and an amazing spirit for adventure.

Brilliant Amaferanga

Thanks for your encouraging msg

By the way the email is working if anyone wants to contact me through that again

Posts: 302
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 8:04am

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby travelling » 15 Jan 2010, 5:47pm


your clearly as mad as a box of frogs and good on ya

instead of many of us pedalling round the u.k. wishing seem to be taking..pardon the pun..bull by the horns and grasping life

your not know the risks and seem to be researching it properly

good luck and have a great time
I have the lightest bike in the world....then I put my fattest body in the world on it...the only pounds that have been lost are from my bank account

Posts: 962
Joined: 12 Nov 2007, 11:41pm
Location: St Antonin Noble Val, France

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby pq » 15 Jan 2010, 7:14pm

Peter Gostelow is currently riding to SA following a westerly route - lots of useful info on his site - just google his name.

I've ridden a bit in West Africa (Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry). It was great and I never felt in any danger, but it is very rough. The roads are very bad, the food is awful, makes you sick and can be hard to find at all at times. Accommodation is equally rough - most of the places I stayed were also brothels. Some of the countries are totally dysfunctional - Guinea-Bissau for example had pretty much nothing you could call a government, and apart from roads built by foreign donors, absolutely nothing in the way of infrastructure. It can be pretty harrowing meeting people fleeing war zones - the place is full of refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia. You need to think carefully about whether you'd enjoy that sort of travelling. It can be very rewarding but it isn't for everyone. My trip ended when I got very very ill. I was in a town with a 50% HIV rate, so the locals were well used to sick people, and they thought I was dying. Literally. It was actually food poisoning and I got better quickly, but it was frightening at the time.

I must say although a regular stream of people do the route it's never particularly appealed to me. Whichever way you go crossing the Sahara is tedious and uncomfortable and it's difficult to ride all the way - if you do the eastern sahara crossing there are bits which are too dangerous to ride. If I was going to do it, I'd do the western route. In the time frame you have I wouldn't start from home though. Take a cheap charter flight to Gambia and head south. That way you'll bypass the bits that are boring and which are close to home and it'll give you more time to enjoy the interesting bits.

Finally, you need to research rain. Trying to cross a country which has only dirt roads in the rainy season is no fun and can be impossible.
One link to your website is enough. G

Posts: 20
Joined: 11 Jan 2010, 9:30pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby afrowheels » 16 Jan 2010, 1:09pm

Hi Lindsey,

Pity this requires starting so soon (and going so quickly) or I would be very keen to come! I have cycled Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and parts of Mozambique; so a good deal of the route I expect you will take (most cyclists wanting to do a relatively quick trip through the continent head down the Egypt, east coast side; the West African side would be more interesting but more difficult and time consuming). My trip was 4-5months in 2005 so some time ago. I would say that in general the roads were fairly good by developing country standards. There were some dodgy ones but most of those i could have avoided if i wanted to.

Your main issue is going to be time. To do the trip at the speed you want to, you will need to take larger roads which means finding accom, etc will be easier but you will then need to be more careful about traffic (which was in my experience the main danger, especially on big roads in the vicinity of large urban centres). I had very few dodgy experiences (and i still don't know if the ones i thought were dodgy actually were, because i got away wholly unscathed).

Good equipment, if you can afford it/get it sponsored/find secondhand will save you a good deal of time and hassle. E.g. I had schwalbe marathons tyres on my wheels (kept at the right tyre pressure i might add) and didn't pick up a single puncture. Ditto for racks, spokes/wheels. Given that you are going for a bit more speed than i was and therefore taking fewer side and dirt roads, you will probably want to prioritise weight and speed a bit over toughness.

If you want any more info feel free to email me at

Would echo an earlier post and encourage you to get info from the sages on the LP onyourbike forum; they were invaluable for my 2005 trip (which was my first).



lindseycole wrote:I said in December that if i didn't get the job i'd applied for then i'd cycle to the football world cup in South Africa this summer. Inevitably, i didnt get it and have since been researching the idea non stop. If i leave at the end of Jan i think it's possible to make it for the final (11th July). The only problem is i'd be cycling as a solo female and obviously my mum and friends aren't too happy about it.
So, I'm wondering if any cycling fans can spare 6 months or are in a similar situation to me and fancy embarking on what would be an adventure of a life time.

Please reply to this if you're keen- or if you can offer any advice

Happy new year to all

Lindsey Cole

Posts: 216
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 7:57pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby takeonafrica » 22 Jan 2010, 11:17am

Hi Lindsey.
Hope you're still planning on cycling through Africa - I've already emailed you in response to the questions you asked me.
The advice from others here is good.

One thing I thought I'd mention was about guide books - The Rough Guide to West Africa is far superior to the Lonely Planet one for this region.
I spent a long time researching lightweight gear etc. Glad I got the gear I did, but it is not so important really - I enjoy reading and have now ended up with about 8 books in my bag - one guide book, the others reading books and a french language book. With the guide book - it's getting lighter because I tear out the sections I've finished with as I go...

Regarding safety - fears are largely unfounded and I've not had any problems. On the contrary in fact. Of course, you have to be sensible and aware of potential problems. But so far, I've had countless acts of kindness and help, it's a pleasure cycling here.

Anyway, best of luck and maybe I'll see you on the road.

Helen (currently cycling in Sierra Leone)
Books: Desert Snow and A Siberian Winter's Tale

Posts: 10
Joined: 2 Jan 2010, 6:52pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby lindseycole » 29 Jan 2010, 12:47pm

Hi Helen

It's brilliant to hear form you.

I'm not sure where you're reply went to as i never received it.

When do you think you'll get down to South Africa? Or I'd love to catch up with you when you're back.

I originally looked at the West-but it's so expensive re all the visas. The east is only £200ish for all 9 countries.

Posts: 216
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 7:57pm

Re: Cycle to SA world cup-solo female

Postby takeonafrica » 9 Mar 2010, 5:11pm

Lindsay - Below is a copy of the emails (2) I sent but don't think you received. Maybe there's some useful information for others, which is why I'm posting it here.

Email 1:
Sleeping - in Europe I mostly camped in campsites which are good, clean and safe. Morocco I was mostly invited to stay in local's homes which again was good, clean and safe. Most of the rest of the time I've been wild camping and the aim here is to find a spot where I won't be found. Occasionally I've been seen and the locals usually just say hello, ask if I'm ok and leave me to it. So, so far - no problems with safety while camping. Of course, you never quite know who may come across you, but if anything, I think the risks of a problem are less being a female, than if I was a bloke. Travelling alone as a girl - most people want to make sure you're ok and will go out of their way to make sure you feel happy and safe. Of course, if you're camping near or on someone's property it is polite to ask their permission to camp if you can.

I hope that's laid to rest any fears you may have about camping as a female.

I don't know what your planned route is, but judging by my progress and the state of the roads I think you'll find it very hard to cycle from the UK to Cape Town in five months if you go via West Africa - getting visas alone could take out at least a month and maybe more depending on the countries you visit and then there could be any host of unforeseeable problems - bike problems or illness for example.

Two guys - are hoping to get to cape town for the world cup but they've given themselves 12months to do it. I'm not trying to put you off, but I would consider either starting part way there or perhaps a better alternative would be going the East Africa route from Cairo. Having said that, I've been hitting the small roads and if you stick to the main overland routes, the roads may be better and you'd be able to make steady progress.

There's so much to see and enjoy en route it seems a shame rush through just to meet the world cup though.

For example, you could start in Nairobi and take you time getting to Cape Town for the World Cup and then continue the journey from there.... just ideas really.

Anyway, let me know if you have any other questions - basically, don't worry about being a girl (it's a good thing) and think about why you want to cycle through Africa rather than just fly out to the World Cup.

Email 2:
Did you get my earlier message? I hope so...
Security-wise - there are no problems being a female. If anything, people are more willing to help you because you are a girl and therefore you are less likely to have a problem than if you were a guy.
I don't think there's much you can say to reassure people that you will be safe... until you get travelling and you let everyone know what a great time you're having and actually it really isn't that dangerous, it's hard to convince people!
Before this trip I'd done quite a lot of backpacking in slightly dubious countries and so I didn't really need to convince myself.
Of course, I have spent quite some time thinking up all kinds of different worst-case scenarios and what I can do to avoid them and what to do if they arise... none of them have happened (yet!), but it's always good to be prepared.
I think the saying goes.... 'Adventure is just poor planning'. In Africa, I think there will be plenty of adventure even with a well planned trip!

The trip is going really great so far and I'm really loving it all. OK some days are hard and some situations very trying and tiring, but that's part of travelling.

Of course if you've got any other questions, please ask - always keen to help a fellow female adventurer!!
Books: Desert Snow and A Siberian Winter's Tale