A baptism of fire – my first day as an expedition cyclist
Saturday, November 28th, 2015
It’s day 7 and I’m still alive. I’ve had a good deal of time to reflect on the events of last week, and there were a lot of events. I’m going to download what’s in my head more regularly from now on, I just think I needed a bit of time to get to grips with all the goddamned cycling!
I thought I’d start at the beginning for this blog and I feel I’m proficient enough as a ‘cyclist’ now (sitting in Rotterdam!) to be honest and see the humour in the farcical things that took place on launch day.
So…I woke up at 5am and lay in bed thinking about all the things I hadn’t done. I’d gone to bed without packing shit, not a bit of clothing, not a toiletry, nothing. I’m a bit of a ‘manana’ guy, so here I was, it was ‘manana’, ‘d-day’, ‘lift-off’ and the empty pannier bags were basically a physical manifestation of my lack of physical and mental preparation for the journey ahead.
As I drank coffee I had the vaguely amusing thought that today I’d be learning to cycle again, that old adage ‘you never forget how to ride a bike‘ was to be tested to the limit, with a 50kg trailer thrown into the mix for good measure. Amusement turned to anxiety as I started shoving stuff into pannier bags and had a sense of foreboding, there was so much that didn’t feel right. I was thinking of my boys, wondering if they’d be proud of me, or pissed off at me. I imagine it’ll be a bit of both right now, but I hope in time they’ll view this as a positive thing.
Anxiety took a greater hold as I remember this was my idea, I had put myself forward for this, had dreamed of doing something like this for years. Not only is it a massive privilege to be able to something this but there’s been a Herculean effort from so many people to get me to the start line, none more so than from Jo. She’s been a tower of power and whipped E-Bike Africa, The Purple Heart Network, Last Mile Deliveries and, of course, me into shape.
Anyway, I digress. After packing everything Susanne and I headed to Dales Cycles with Sascha, who had come over from Germany to do some filming. It was the start of an eventful day, we were supplied with an amazing car that Sascha would ride in to take footage – unfortunately beautiful cars are designed to be in front of cameras, not behind them, so we had to come up with a new plan. Thankfully Rab stepped in at the last minute, he was a total god send that day, especially later on when he drove to my house to pick up the bike battery keys that I’d left on the kitchen counter (insert lols here)!
We had a fantastic turnout for the send-off from Nelson Mandela Place, I have no idea how these things work but you don’t just turn up, wave and cycle off. You have to ride around in circles for an hour or two while people get their pictures. 2 hours later we were still cycling in circles for photos and film, not quite the departure I’d envisaged.
Finally we set off, this is where the real ‘fun’ begins…have you tried to cycle out of Glasgow to the countryside? If you have are you still alive? What an experience, cycling along the hard shoulder of an A road that quickly turns to motorway we found ourselves being advised by the Police to find an alternative route, they escorted us off the motorway and into a little village. Unfortunately all roads out of the village led to more motorways and dual carriageways.
It was now 6.15pm, it was dark, we were cold, our batteries had long since died, desperation, hunger and misery set in. Equal distance from my house and New Lanark, our target destination, we decided to take drastic action. Susanne began flagging down any van she could see, I frantically rang round friends trying to get transport, but to no avail. We were really beginning to worry, it wouldn’t look good to die of hypothermia 50 kilometers into a 18,000 kilometer expedition!
About 40 minutes later, we were ready to throw in the towel and take the psychological hit of just trying to get to my house. Then, we spotted a halo of light ahead, raindrops diffused by yellow sodium streetlamps, leading us to salvation…a train station! It took us about 30 seconds to swallow our pride, struggle onto the platform with bikes and trailers and take the train…ONE station to New Lanark.
Press and Media Coverage of the Launch
And they’re off…
Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Welcome to the first E-Bike Africa blog. It’s the first of many, most of them will be from Bruce but there will be a few from me and the rest of the team. Hopefully by the end we’ll have a bit of a blueprint to help other folk who might be mad enough to even consider embarking on something like this!
Today was quite a day, if you’re wondering how and when all this started you might be surprised to know that we’ve pulled it together in relatively little time, about 5 months. You can read more about how it all came about on Bruce’s blog here.
We’ve had the most amazing support from people, the amount of time, energy, resource and knowledge people have shared has been amazing and I’d like to thank everyone that helped get us here; most notably Susanne Bruesch from Pedelec Adventures, a lovely human being who just solidified my long held belief that Berliners are some of the best folk in the world.
Launch day was hectic and, like all things expedition related, exhausting – I’m sure Bruce and Susanne have gone cycling to get a rest!
We woke early, packed panniers, realised not everyone would fit in the car, caught a train, got coffee, hung out at Dales Cycles, rode in a BMW HY 8 (an eco-friendly cross between the Batmobile and a Delorean), took some picture, shot some film, met with the press, chatted to our friends, drank more coffee, shot more film, took more pictures, met more friends, chatted to some school kids and then it was time to say goodbye.
Bruce and Susanne headed out of the city bound for New Lanark where they’ll stay overnight before embarking on a massive 100km cycle tomorrow. As I sit in my kitchen and listen to the rain outside I just want to wish them both a safe cycle, full of interesting, blog-worthy, events and as little unpleasant weather as possible!
Bruce & Susanne at the start line
E-Bike Africa Expedition First Leg Starting in Glasgow on 19th November
Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
Download the Press Release: Ebike-Africa_Press-release_2015-11-18_EN
The E-Bike Africa adventurers, Susanne Brüsch and Bruce MacLeod, overlooking Glasgow.
The E-Bike Africa Adventurers Bruce MacLeod and Susanne Brüsch in Glasgow
The people behind E-Bike Africa: Bruce MacLeod, main rider and co-founder of The Purple Heart Network; Johanna Speirs, former Chair of The Purple Heart Network and Susanne Brüsch, founder of Pedelec Adventures
Bruce MacLeod and Susanne Brüsch discovering Glasgow on their expedition e-bikes provided from leading German brand Haibike
The expedition team Bruce MacLeod of The Purple Heart Network and Susanne Brüsch of Pedelec Adventures getting ready to leave from Glasgow.
www.ebikeafrica.com for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org