Well here we are. After months of planning, training and dreaming and 6 weeks of blood, sweat and tears (yes, I saw Reid cry!) we have finished BTC Africa! It is quite surreal.
The final tally stands at something like 5421km in 27 days across 7 countries, making an average of 200.8km a day. We climbed something close to 22,000m, burnt around 205,000 calories each, broke 5 spokes, fixed countless punctures and saw too many cows and donkeys. The highest point we reached was 3090m and the temperatures ranged from -9.6 degrees up to 40 degrees. We fell off quite a few times each for reasons such as 'black ice' in Lesotho, to deep sand in Namibia and Mozambique to sheer uncoordinated stupidity elsewhere! We endured 2 bouts of gastro, lots of sunburn, minor grazes, repetitive aches and pains and a few cases of saddle sores. We each lost at least 5kg of weight while new records for food consumption were set. We also learnt that Dan has an amazing gift for sleeping in any and every situation, Reid is actually half robot and Tim has some of the finest chicken legs anywhere!
There is no doubt that we are relieved and immensely satisfied at finishing the ride. We were told by many that what we were trying was impossible and that was almost true. But it is amazing what you can do when driven by a purpose and goal that is beautifully large and transformative. In fact I am positive we would be unable to undertake such a task without such defined dreams and hopes.
However, the ride is only one part of this story. This was also a journey of understanding. We wanted to put ourselves in a position of repetitive pain and discomfort in order to give ourselves an opportunity to better understand the lives of our friends who live in poverty. So we rode and we learnt. By no means do we have the complete picture when it comes to poverty and the effects it has on people. But our understanding and empathy is deeper now. Poverty has a name.
From our experiences riding consistently into headwinds, we have developed an analogy that informs our ongoing response to issues of justice and compassion. In short, we see living in poverty as living life into a relentless headwind. It is unforgiving and requires extraordinary persistence, humour, joy, strength and creativity to move forward. We have learnt that your external situation does not have to determine your internal attitude or response which is why we see celebration, respect, unity and hope in the midst of struggle.
→ For more on this, see the 'Headwinds of Poverty' paper
Ultimately, our hope from this ride, and the subsequent documentary that will come out of it, is that more of us might get a glimpse into the life of orphans and vulnerable kids and those who care for and work with them. Our desire is to see people moved in such a way that they seek to align their lives with the poor, with the intention that we all use our immense resources to benefit the lives of others.
So we rode 200km a day to raise awareness and support for 200 kids for their primary education. This is a 7 year project, not a one off flash in the pan gift. The intention is that we as a collective will work together to literally guarantee that 200 kids will complete their primary education.
Impossible? Well, some people said riding 200+km a day was impossible. Apparently it is not. So perhaps, just perhaps, ending global poverty and it's far reaching effects is possible after all. And maybe, just maybe, that starts with us, in a small Zambian community and 200 kids receiving the opportunity to reach their God given potential. Imagine what could happen from there?