Fifty thousand miles, anyone?
More than likely, most world circumnavigations by bike next year will be taking place under the auspices of Vin Cox’s Global Bike Race. Tanzanian naturalist and tour guide Elvis Munis, however, will be taking a somewhat less direct route.
He’ll be putting down around fifty thousand miles over the course of his two-year world tour to raise money for the Conservation Research Center and send ten students to college in his native country.
Elvis, why two years?
I just want to do this tour for two year because I want to go back school to become a professional in conservation and natural resource management.
What are your sleeping arrangements?
Basically, I planning to do camping as the previous tours. I have been doing lots of bush camps due to the luck of nearby towns and it helps a lot to save travel cost, if I camp then I cook but if I sleep in the hotel I’ll be tempted to eat there, because cooking becomes inconvenient. It is very easy with good quality tent, thermal vest and sleeping bag, stove cooker, etc. It also offers lot of experience. In some cases I happen to get invitation from a kind family or get a bed while you ask to camp in the back or front yard (I don’t count much on this though I use some web site such as Couch surfing to find someone who could offer a place especially in the big towns/cities, I never used it before but it was recommended by other cyclists). In some towns/cities I’ll have to sleep in the hotel for a shower or good bed rest.
What kind of dinners and breakfasts do you eat when you’re on the road?
I have been travelling under a tight budget so my meals have been mostly what was edible or found cheaply. Where coffee, bread and eggs (ostrich in Botswana & Namibia), make a good start. In the midday bread sandwich or spaghetti, dinner play between rice and spaghetti. Coke or chai (tea) stops play in between with whatever might be found in local shops, also sometimes in Africa there are Mamas sale, cheap food in the stalls during the night (rice, maize meal, chapatti, beans, fish, meat (never ask what kind of meat). This depends with areas, how strong your stomach can be, or copy up or dare to it some other kind of food.
Lots of people ride with headphones and listen to music, do you?
In my first tour 2009 I didn’t have music at all, it wasn’t too bad but sometime I needed to listen to some tunes to ease the moment. Nowadays I’m also part of the i-generation, I cycle with i-pod which sometimes in the long lonely days become short but it bring feelings of what you may have been missing in normal ordinary day sitting in the sofa sipping nice coffee or so. Though I cycle with music I’m very aware of safety as it very easy to get hit by a car or motorcycle.
What route have you planned already when you leave Chile?
I’m planning to stick on the coast of Chile before hit the climbs of Peru to Ecuador to the jungle of Colombia to Central America. I’ll stick on the west coast of North America to Alaska. I’m still looking for countries’ maps so I can study them and be more precise with route and roads. For the moment I’m relying on others’ information and Google maps.
If there was one special thing you could have to use on the trip (money no object) what would it be?
This is difficult question, I’m worried if it will be only one thing special which I might need but consider this is bike tour most of the day gonna spend sitting in one place, pedalling to move on for months and years. I think comfort and quality saddle will be one of the special things I’ll want to have.
What languages do you speak?
I love cultures and languages being part of it I like to learn different languages, I always try to learn local language of the place I visit assume to speak them but Africa prove wrong due to their diversity. I speak my mother tongue which is Chagga (one of Bantu languages, I have advantage of grasp other Bantu dialectics which are spoken widely in Africa), I speak Ki-swahili (Tanzania National language, wide use in East Africa, a good combination of Arabic and Bantu dialects), and English, French and Spanish are international languages I speak.
Which countries or cities are you looking forward to visiting most?
I’m looking forward to visit countries such as Colombia that I have heard a little about, it has they say natural beauty like Congo with similar problem of successful rebels, etc.; I’m eager to cycle across USA after reading, watching movies, etc. if think for me being from Africa there will be a lot to experience, Russia, Mongolia, the -”Stans” and Turkey are also countries I’m looking forward to visit. Hope you can imagine being from Africa with my peculiar curiosity there are so many I’m looking forward to explore.
It should be sunny and dry starting in Chile in January. Are you going to try avoid extreme weather conditions?
I know it will be hot and I choose this weather as preference, on some occasions I have been cycling in Africa while it was 47c. I’m not sure how I’ll take on northern hemisphere cold, I think I’ll be trying to avoid the extreme winters of Alaska and Siberia by waiting for their short summer.
50000 miles is a lot of riding, even over two years. Does your plan give you much time to stay in one place for a while?
Yes it is a long ride, as I said I give myself a maximum of two years but I’m also willing to add one year depending on circumstances. The ride is supported mainly by fundraising, so far I’m doing it on 20% of the goal so maybe I have to minimize my time on the road by going fast as possible! But 50000 miles is still the approximate tour distance.
You have already done some long distance riding in Africa. What advice have you got for other long distance riders based on your experience?
Talking about advice on bike touring is like talking about a book, there are plenty of thing to coincide from kind of cyclists, their preparations, expectations, goals, places to be cycled, etc. As most of my experience is based on Africa, the most important things I’ll advise anyone planning to cycle here is to have a bike which suit the African condition, take time to do research (plenty of info online) on what you want to see? What do you want to experience? Along a popular cycling route across Africa (Cairo to Cape) it’s tarmac almost all the way, is this what you want to experience? Budget is a crucial part of long cycling tour this will determine how long you can stay on the road. Being healthy and safe it also another important part of a long cycling tour, one has to take care of him/herself as much as possible. Some bureaucracy sucks! Check out in advance or be flexible to change your plans. Lastly make sure you have fun and enjoy your tour!
What do you do when you get a puncture? I mean, do you patch it quickly, or change the tube quickly and patch the old one later, or do you take your time and use it as an opportunity to take a longer break?
Puncture sucks! It cuts off my momentum when I’m cycling, it consumes all enthusiasm when I wake up and find flat tires but what I learned is biking isn’t only about biking it is also about your patience. And challenges. Most of time I take time to patch my tube and use it as a break.
Have you had bad technical problems in the middle of nowhere?
Yes twice my hubs crushed, once I had to walk and push my loaded bike half a day to find bike mechanic to replace with a cheap Indian one which last for few weeks.
Why did you cut off your dreadlocks?
I didn’t expect this question! I love hair and time to time I tried to keep them, I had my last dreadlocks when I started working on my other tour in Africa mostly as hair style and never know when I’ll shave. For a while I wanted to change style so recently I thought I will cut them to change style and start a countdown of my coming tour.
How many miles have you already cycled with your bike frame?
This frame was donated with one of my friend we were together in cross Africa cycling tour early this year Tour D’Afrique (Cairo-Cape) 12,000km. After tour I use it for short tours, long one was 700km.
Elvis will be using the John O’ Groats and Lands End panniers, as well, of course, as a Brooks saddle and bar tape on his travels. But he also has some other items on a “wish list” scroll on the project homepage.