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· Countdown Series

3 weeks to go...

It has certainly been a long time since I last wrote a blog piece, and a lot has happened in the last 2 months. Firstly I am very happy to announce my main sponsors, Temple Cycles, Fill and Mountain Safety Research. Thanks to these three companies I am now completely kitted out with all the essentials for the trip. I am also excited to announce our partnership with Explorers Against Extinction (more information to come out soon).

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What's been happening?

About 3 weeks ago I headed down to London on the train for two days to sort some stuff out for the trip. After navigating the streets of central London for hours on foot I stumbled across the Kenyan embassy. For me walking through the doors of the high commission was my first big milestone of the trip, I was suddenly aware of how real the whole thing felt now. I was there to drop off my application form for an East African Tourist Visa which essentially allows me to enter Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda all on the same Visa. After leaving my passport with a very serious embassy worker I made my way across London to Brick Lane which is where Temple Cycles London store is based. Having walked almost the entire length of Brick Lane I stumbled across the shop and met Tom and Ellie, and was also greeted by a rather spectacular looking touring bicycle. For any bike geeks out there I am riding a customised Temple Adventure Disc (more information can be found here). I would just like to say a big thank you Tom and the rest of the team at Temple for building such an awesome piece of kit and after riding it for several weeks now I am confident that it will be able to tackle the worst that Africa can throw at it. Over an hour later, after a big and interesting conversation about my ride and bike touring in general I departed Brick Lane with my new bike and a very big smile. Again this was another huge milestone for my trip, now I actually have something to ride!

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So what else has been going on? Over the last few months I have received numerous supply packages from a variety of companies that have offered to support my expedition. I now have enough mosquito repellent for the population of England as well as hats, bike bags and bike lights.

A couple of weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to be filmed and interviewed for ITV Anglia news. The lady even asked my Mum a few questions! I haven't been told when it will be on yet, but I will post it out on social media as soon as I know.

On my return to London to pick up my Visa and Passport, I popped into Stanfords map shop where I was kindly provided with a road map for every single country I will be cycling through under the expert advise of Stanfords cartographer Martin. Now that I had maps I was able to start some planning! (See video below)

All about the bike...

Having returned from London with a brand new bike and not a knowledge about bike maintenance or repairing I had the need for some more expert advise. Luckily Tom from Dr Wheelgood bike shop in North Walsham agreed to have me in for the afternoon for crash course in all things bike! Over the course of about 4 hours I learned how to change brake pads, maintain and replace the chain, and how to change an inner tube the correct way. Tom also pointed me in the right direction in terms of spares, tools and other accessories necessary for the trip. Thanks for a fun and informative afternoon :)

So what now?

I cannot stress how surreal it feels that in 3 weeks time I will be in Nairobi getting ready to start the trip...

Let's briefly go over what the current plans from here are. So on Sunday 3rd March I will fly from London Heathrow to Nairobi, where I will stay with friends overnight before taking a vehicle 5 hours up to the base of Mt Kenya to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The staff at Ol Pejeta are very kindly putting me up for 2 nights in the research camp in the conservancy. Here I am hopefully going to be able to meet the last two northern white rhinos in the world as well as meeting the anti-poaching dog squad that is based there. And then on the 6th March the expedition starts for real. The current plan is to cycle for about a week over to the Kitale School in Uganda, then around Lake Victoria and into Tanzania. The route then progresses into Malawi and follows Lake Malawi. I then will cross into Zambia and make my way to the halfway point at Victoria Falls. From there I will cycle down into Botswana before entering Namibia and making my way down south into South Africa and finally arriving in Cape Town in late July.

I am extremely excited about this adventure and of course a little nervous as well. I can't wait to share my stories with you so stay tuned!

Finally I would like to thank all of those who generously donated to the two charities I am riding in support of. Thanks to your incredible support we have already raised almost £2000. For me information or to donate please visit this link: all donations are greatly appreciated and all money raised goes directly to the charities.

Many thanks,