Book Review – Africa Solo

My world record race from Cairo to Cape Town by Mark Beaumont (Bantam Press) ISBN: 9780593076330

What makes a man decide to ride a bicycle down the length of Africa as fast as he can? For Mark Beaumont, it’s a follow up to several extreme adventures: cycling across America, smashing the time record for cycling around the world, and nearly drowning in a team attempt to row across the Atlantic in less than thirty days.

To be this driven, you’ve got to be passionate. And a little bit crazy. Maybe the pain and adrenaline are addictive. I never did get to understand this man. I didn’t really even get to like him very much, but I did find the account of his attempt to set a new record in the Guinness Book of Records by cycling, unsupported, from Cairo to Cape Town in under 50 days, completely fascinating.

Every day brings new challenges: The daily challenge of achieving the kilometres required, finding food and lodging in some of remotest places on earth, and negotiating bureaucracy. There are many warm encounters with the local people, quite a few temper tantrums, mainly with slow kitchen staff (long-distance cycling makes you “hangry”- that anger brought on by extreme hunger) and some hard cycling.

The book also includes some of the photographs taken en route, which highlight some of the sights and experiences he describes – a great addition to an epic story.

Judy Ward

Posted on: 28th November 2016