Mark Beaumont is a broadcaster and endurance athlete who, in 2008, broke the World Record for cycling around the globe for the BBC documentary The Man Who Cycled the World. Last year, after a brief hiatus from the bicycle, Beaumont rode the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, totalling 10,000km in just 41 days. He tells Jake Taylor about his adventures
What are the most important things to remember when you start an expedition like Cape Town to Cairo?
You’ve got to just have enough food, clean water, get enough sleep at night and put time on the bike – expedition life is pretty brutal, but actually very simple. Whereas in the planning stage you’re talking about the big picture, the big dream – actually getting into that mind-set every day about what it’s like to ride the bike for so long every single day – is totally different, and I always think it takes two or three days to get there.
What part of the Africa Solo expedition are you most proud of?
Do you know, the funny thing is that if you look at any of the coverage of Africa Solo last year, what is talked about a lot, especially in the cycling press, is the final three countries – Zambia, Botswana, South Africa – where I was averaging well over 200 miles a day. The week I’m actually most proud of is that week in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, where my worst day was only 80 miles. It doesn’t look good, no one else sees it as a success, but trust me that’s where I dug deepest. They were the hardest miles, even if on paper they weren’t the big ones.
What was it about Africa that you loved?
I’m a people person; I genuinely love that interaction and having a view on culture and places, so for me, the continent was exciting, ever-changing and dramatic. Africa is where I felt most at home.
Which country on Africa Solo made the biggest impression on you?
Sudan stands out in that it was one of the most different from what I expected. We hear about these places being difficult – international sanctions and all that stuff – but once you get inside a place like Sudan you just meet phenomenally welcoming and interesting people and a real depth of culture; one day I’d love to go back and explore more.
To read more about Mark Beaumont’s adventures, buy his books, My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town, and The Man who Cycled the World.