Walvis Bay — ROBIN Barrett, a 63-year old British national from Halifax, completed a 4 400km African coast-to-coast cycling adventure from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Walvis Bay on Monday, August 13.
It took the former French-teacher (now window-cleaner) 75 days to cross from Dar es Salaam on the east coast of the continent, through Malawi and Zambia, to Walvis Bay on the west coast. He started his adventure on June 1.
"I was a teacher for 30 years, and eventually started my own window-cleaning business. It was while I was cleaning windows that I heard the story of Fran Sandham who walked from Walvis Bay to Dar es Salaam, which is what inspired me to also go on my own adventure," Barrett told The Namibian.
He already had his tour-bicycle, and according to him, the window-cleaning kept him fit.
"Also, after about four weeks of cycling, one gets fit too," he said.
Barrett had been on all the continents except Africa before. This adventure would allow him to see what the continent was all about.
"At first the thought of 'black Africa' was a little intimidating. But I soon learned that the African people, especially those in small villages had more time to be friendly and hospitable. Everywhere I went, I received a warm welcome, and the fact that everyone could easily communicate in English was also an encouragement," he said.
The cyclist had few problems along the road, except for a luggage-rack that broke off, and five punctures.
"A local 'iron-basher' quickly fixed the rack for me. It was no big deal. The trip was very smooth; the empty and quiet landscapes and the weather was amazing all the way," said Barrett.
This was his longest adventure, and it was a major success for Barrett.
The following day, after the interview with the newspaper, he rode his bicycle from the harbour town to the Walvis Bay International Airport, where he would catch his flight back to England.
"I have all my luggage with me - even my bicycle is considered as sports luggage - so I just have to pack it, and off I go.
The return flight is probably the most expensive part of the entire adventure," he said.
Barrett advised those that may want to do similar adventures to stay away from the tourists centres.
"Go through the quiet country and absorb that which comes your way. It's really different and refreshing," he said.