6 June 2006
Location: Obernai, France
Fundraising efforts are off to a promising start: $1,730 raised so far. Many thanks to all the generous individuals who have donated to CAMFED through our charity page.
Bicycles are ready to go, but we're still trying to figure out how to stuff tent, stove, cookware, spare parts, computer, cameras, and clothing into 8 saddle bags. The weatherman predicts sunshine and pleasant temperatures for our departure on Wednesday--let's just hope he's right.
World Biking Africa was featured in the French regional newspaper the Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace: read the article (in French) here.
10 May 2006
Location: Darmstadt, Germany
Update by Amaya
Less than a month till departure and I can already feel the butterflies batting around in my belly (or maybe that's just a minor stomach upset from the raw chocolate chip cookie dough I devoured last evening).
Eric has recently discovered the joys of e-bay and can be found most evenings glued to the monitor tracking down deals on everything from Canon cameras to Shimano spokes. Needless to say, we're not making much progress towards chalking up the 1000 kilometers necessary to break in the Brooks saddles--they're about as comfortable as a 3rd class bench on an Indian train.
After much consideration, we have chosen CAMFED for our charity fundraising efforts. Its focus is on increasing girls' access to education in some of the poorest rural areas of Africa. CAMFED currently reached over 70,000 girls per year and is a partner in Tony Blair's "Make Poverty History" campaign as well as the chair of the United Nation's" Initiative for Girls’ Education". If you would like to help eradicate poverty by educating girls, please consider making an online donation to CAMFED.
Things seem to be coming together at last. We had long debated whether to pursue sponsors in order to defray some of the costs of the trip. From other cyclists' reports, we knew that Ortlieb wouldn't be beating down the door begging us to use their 'free' products in exchange for a plug on our web site. It seems finding sponsors is hard work and requires countless hours selling your project to disinterested managers of sporting goods companies. So imagine our surprise when the friendly Bikemax manager almost immediately agreed to a generous discount after I had asked only half-jokingly if he wouldn't like to support us. Thanks to this good fortune, we'll be seeing Africa from the saddle of the Koga Miyata World Traveller. This is a bike specifically designed for tours such as ours. It's made to withstand all the wear and tear of rough roads and it's also the bicycle used by legendary cyclist Tilmann Waldthaler.
The range of outdoor gear available nowadays is mind-boggling! Vigilance is a must if you want to make it through the checkout without setting yourself back several hundred (or thousand!) euros. The slick salesman at Decathlon in Strasbourg had almost convinced me of the merits of the cool max seamless moisture-wicking cycling socks with the €16.50 price tag. Fortunately, I came to my senses, put things into perspective and realized that the price of those hi-tech socks would be equivalent to a week's wages in some African countries. Sweaty feet certainly won't kill me.
20 March 2006
Location: Darmstadt, Germany
Update by Amaya
10 weeks to go and something tells me we should be further along in the preparations. Felt especially despondent as I checked out Granny on a Bike's site--she's set to depart in 2007 and already has her send off party planned. I try to console myself by remembering that I thrive under pressure.
Some progress on the bicycle selection front. Looks like we'll be going with a sturdy German bike from Fahrradmanufaktur--the T400! Tough decision as I wanted to go with a model from a competitor with the sweet sounding name "Montana". A missed publicity opportunity for my home state. The voice of reason (otherwise known as Eric) seems to have won this battle.
The shopping list is long: tent, spd cycling shoes, panniers, sunglasses, clothing, water purifier, cookware, laptop, camera and a thousand other "necessities". In any case, I'm not allowing myself to slip into crisis mode yet as I know we'll be able to pick up any forgotten items along the way as we travel through Europe.
Finances are in order and Eric's brother has kindly offered to make space for our belongings in his garage. Thanks, Fabrice!