A BICYCLE TRIP THROUGH THE AFRICAN CONTINENT. ALTHOUGH LUKAS STEINER HAS NOT YET STARTED A TOUR IN SUCH A DIMENSION, THE 25-YEAR-OLD STUDENT IS NOW DRAWN TO THE WORLD. THE YOUNG ADVENTURER STARTED HIS JOURNEY ALONE IN JUNE 2018 IN ZURICH. WE TALKED TO HIM AND FOLLOWED LUKAS THROUGH AFRICA.
LUKAS, WHY ARFRICA AND WHY BY BIKE?
A lot of people ask me that and when they hear that I’m making a solo trip through Africa, they are shocked. In today’s world, media opinion dominates ours. Many people told me that Africa was dangerous, “Don’t go there, people will steal all your stuff, animals will attack you at night…” and so on. There are many myths about Africa in people’s minds, but I wanted to see and experience the diversity of people and cultures with my own eyes. I think a bicycle is very suitable for this. On the one hand you are very close to the local population, on the other hand you are still able to travel long distances in a single day. Also, crossing the land borders by bike is very easy and you don’t have to worry about customs and various taxes.
“I WANTED TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE THE DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE AND CULTURES IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WITH MY OWN EYES.”
A JOURNEY TO ANOTHER WORLD
WHAT WERE YOUR HARDEST EXPERIENCES?
There have been some of them so far. In August I drove through the Sahara in Sudan. With temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius, sandstorms and strong headwinds and a water consumption of 15 litres per day, the 2,000 kilometres were one of the most adventurous experiences of my life, both physically and mentally.
I also had a few days on which I already rode over 125 kilometres and covered more than 2,000 metres of altitude in a single day. These are long days, 10 to 11 hours of continuous operation. With a fully loaded bike weighing about 60 kg, I would not have made it without my Pinion central gearbox. With the 18 real gears and a total gear ratio of 636%, long and steep climbs become more manageable and pleasant.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH YOUR GEARBOX SO FAR?
No, I haven’t had any problems with Pinion so far. Since I try to avoid dangerous traffic often, I am rewarded with beautiful wildlife, landscape and untouched nature. But that has its price. The gravel roads on the African continent can be very demanding, especially after heavy rain. Mud, clay and sand clog the wheels and make it impossible to move on. For this reason, I am very happy to have chosen the VSF TX-1200 with Pinion P1.18 gearbox in combination with Gates timing belts for my adventure. I have had contact with many touring cyclists and many of them complain about the weekly cleaning of their chain, sometimes even daily, depending on the area. Especially after long days it can be annoying to do the maintenance in the evening.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEIGHT?
For me, travelling by bike is not a race. During the ride I enjoy the impressions, the extra kilo of the gearbox doesn’t matter. Despite all my luggage such as tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, cooking utensils and clothing, the bike is very stable and well balanced. And that even if, depending on the route, I still load up to 5 litres of drinking water.
Reliable and strong equipment is important to me. As long as the equipment lasts and is reliable, a few kilos more will only make you stronger.
DONE – AFTER 18,500 KILOMETERS IN CAPE TOWN
May 2019: at the final destination!After 326 days, 18,580 kilometers and 1,141 hours in the saddle Lukas reaches Cape Town. A journey once across Africa leaves impressions, which the young Swiss has to deal with first. It will take some time for him to become fully aware of his experiences. Those who have warned him of the dangers of Africa will be thrilled by his reports of breathtaking landscapes and warm hearted and open people, not to mention the attractions of the continent.