Tour d’Afrique: Crossing a Continent by Bike

A couple of weeks ago I put up a guest post on riding in Africa that was not totally accurate.  So today we’re posting the inside look by someone who’s done it countless times….Paul McManus, a guide for Tour d’Afrique.  Whether you’ve always wanted to do something like this or just want to read about the fantastic adventure of cycling Africa, you’ll want to have a read and check out his pictures.

Crossing a Continent by Bike

by Paul McManus

What’s it like to join a bike tour across a continent?  How do you prepare?  Who does these things?  Are all good questions.  None of them can be answered quickly.  In fact at Tour d’Afrique, where I have worked as a guide for the last 4 years, we have a series of about 22 updates we send to each rider who registers for our tours that answer those questions and a few more.

But let me try to give you the 10,000 foot view here and at the end I’ll throw in a few bits of random advice I’ve learned over the last 4 years of guiding tours for Tour d’Afrique.

One of things you’ll learn to appreciate on a journey like this is the simplicity of life and the daily routine is a part of that.  The distractions of everyday life don’t exist, no facebook notifications or emails.  No phones ringing or tweets pinging etc… It’s always a bit of an adjustment for the type A’s out there but soon everyone adjusts and life becomes quite pleasant.

Here’s how the routine generally goes:

Wake up at dawn:

  • Pack your tent, sleeping bag etc… into the support vehicles
  • Coffee should be ready when you’re done packing
  • Breakfast is ready 30 minutes later


  • Lasts 30 minutes, Usually consists of oatmeal, bread and spreads, fruit and muesli (that’s granola for you non euro types)

Ride your Bike:

  • Ride the day at your own pace and stop when you like.
  • Depending on the tour we average up to 120 km a day but….

- When we’re climbing the Pamirs in Tajikistan we’ll do more like 60 to 80 km in a day

- When we’re battling the rocks in the Dida Galagu desert we’ll do 80 – 90 kms a day

- When we’re riding through the pan flat Kalahari in Botswana we’ll do up to 203 km in a day

- Of course sometimes you just have to ride naked, regardless of the distance

Coke Stops:

  • We encourage you to stop along the ride, chat with locals, have a coke (if you’re lucky it might even be cold).


  • At a little past the halfway point of the day
  • Usually Consists of sandwiches and fruit

More Riding:

  • After lunch continue riding to camp, take your time and enjoy the scenery
  • Have another coke stop if you like, or take a few pictures, you never know what you’ll see…

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