Thursday, 20 March 2008

Stay tuned for the relaunch in April 2008 when the Cycle Generation starts its expedition through Africa.

The first coverage of the Cycle Generation has just been published at The International Herald Tribune's Business of Green Blog

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


This is the route of the Feel - Africa! Tour: 12 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa

Philosophy & Objectives


Combat climate change and live a Sustainable Way of Life
  1. We promote the change from a fossil & nuclear driven economy to a renewable energy based circular economy.
  2. Promote cycling and human powered vehicles as zero emission vehicles, promote innovative public transport and other low CO2 emission transport options.
  3. Campaign for the protection of ecosystems with special focus on forests and Afforestation

Cycling Tour for 1 year through 12 countries in Africa in 2008/9 as campaign to combat climate change. Highlight climate change challenges and showcase achievable and innovative solutions in three areas:

Energy – Renewable Energy (Solar, Wind, Small Hydro)\

Mobility – Cycling and public transport

Ecology – Afforestation (to plant 10 trees per country)

The facts

| Start April 2008 from Singapore

| 12 Countries Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, (Zambia/Zimbab.)

| Distance ~10 000 km on cycle, rest ship + bus

| Climb mountain ranges Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon, Ruwenzory, Virungas, Ethiopian Siemien Mountains, South African Draakensberg

| Oceans: Indian and Atlantic Ocean

| Deserts Chalbi Desert, Kalahari, Namib Desert

The Approach

| Highlight Africa in a positive and progressive way

| Live stories from adventurous cycling in Africa

| Exciting activities with focus on: Renewable Energy, Mobility and Ecology

| Visit & Initiate projects and communicate first hand experience internationally
(Renewable Energy, Mobility and Ecology)

| Visit and support Afforestation projects (plant min. 10 trees per country + UNEP Billion Tree Campaign)

| Collect letters for climate protection from school kids as part of the kidscall campaign of the Worldfuturecouncil, presented at G8 summit 08 .info

| Gain new inspiration from different approaches and concepts. Credibility through personal action
Official Partners & Sponsors of the Cycle Generation - Feel Africa! Tour

The Billion Tree Campaign of the United Nations Environment Programme

The campaign is raising awareness of the linkages between tree planting and climate change mitigation, the restoration of biodiversity, air and soil quality and food security

Now is the time for KidsCall, the worldwide campaign by children and teenagers to demand decision-makers live up to their responsibilities to help protect the environment

The Spirit of Mountain Sports, which slogan could fit better to the outdoor challenges of Feel Africa!

The German bike legend for unrivalled brake and suspension technologies

ROTOR Custom-made world class cycles. Perform even on the toughest cycle adventures

Rohloff The maker of the unique Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 and the Tour de France proven S-L-T 99 Chains

Thuraya is providing us with its high end satellite telephone and data connection. This will help us to keep in touch with you around the globe even in the remotest corners of Africa.

Suki Design
Our ultimate Design experts. Logo, website and name cards. Thank you Susanne!!!

Infinity Fitness Singapore
Karen, our personal trainer professionally prepared us for the physical exertions of the Tour. And yes, the ambience is exactly like on her website

The leading global manufacturer of solar Off-grid power supply systems

Solar System Integrator and whole seller
Extensive experience in solar applications in Europe & Africa. From solar home systems complete solar parks of 4MWp

Designer and maker of high quality universal solar battery charger and electronics

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Touch the Sky and hit the ground

Another exciting outdoor adventure was waiting for Ragna and me.
Incredible India made it once more to the top of our list even though I had sworn to visit Nepal before I get back to India's part of the Himalaya.

The reason Ragna and I ended up again between Dhal and Chappatis was the Monsoon season. Mid of August in front of the main Himalayan Range in Nepal is not a good idea. The clouds don't allow much of a view and
torrent rains and floods can make a lot of treks rather dangerous.

So we decided to trek in Ladakh. This part of northwestern India lies behind the main Himalayan range and is normally dry like sand.

One reason for me to be content with this part of India so soon again was that the high altitude desert region
resembles Tibet much more than the hot Indian plains.

But before we would make it to the top of the world we had to drive there. First in a bus which was fine but then in a jeep which would prove to be the wrong mode of transport for me.

I would experience some physical challenges which a little overworked jetset manager normally does not have to bother too much: Bumpy dirt tracks at above 5300m in a jeep.

As can be imagined this was not always pleasent. For those of you considering a trip there: Never sit in the back ;-)
I begged from time to time to get onto a proper cycle saddle. Sadly this option was not on the menue with the ridiculously short 2 weeks we had.

Now after our marvellous trek and looking at the incredibly beautiful pictures I can assure everyone: It was worth every headache and all the puking top get to the top of the world. And India once more proved to be as incredible as the adverts keep claiming.

Ok that's it for now.


Saturday, 5 May 2007

Tiger leaping, or how we crawled towards the gorge

Our second attempt to go through the mountains towards the Tiger leaping gorge proofed to be more successful. The tiger leaping gorge is also called first bent of the mighty Yangtze river and is one of the deepest gorges on the planet with 3900m from river bed to mountain top.

But before we actually got there we had another tough two days.

As we already thought the route info which we got from the Internet was not very reliable and the road was even unsealed for more than 10km uphill. Cycling over the spiky cobblestones felt more like working with a jackhammer while climbing. Instead of around 42km and a nice guest house we had more than 60km and over 1100m altitude on our instruments when we gave up and weakly asked a local family along the road if they could provide shelter for the night.

The woman was very hospitable and we quickly agreed on conditions for accommodation and food. She stayed there with here daughter and her granddaughter. They belonged to the ethnic minority called Yi which is quite unique because of their living matriarchal culture.
The family lived in three houses and there were two more stable like buildings which looked fairly new. They also had some animals and I especially liked the pig because it wanted to play with us like a dog as it was brought for feeding.

The little girl ran around with the special Chinese baby trousers which are open at the backside. I had seen this already some years ago in western China but still had to smile at the sight. And this time it was quite cold with our hosts home at above 3200m.

I was so exhausted that I did not even want to eat, which is very unsusal after cycling the whole day in the mountains. At the end I managed to enjoy some of the baked potatoes which were directly roasted in an open fire in the main house.

As often in remote places the hospitability was outanding and we sat cosily around the open fire with the family members. One son who came in later was especially cheering and we read together in our Chinese language book to enhance our limited Chinese conversation.

It was great to use the little sentences of Mandarin which Ragna and I had learnt in the last months in our Chinese class and my enthusiasm for our studies really went up.

Both of us felt the altitude at night with heavy heads and wild dreams.

We had hoped to wake up with a clear blue sky, see snow capped peaks and dry after days of rain. Unfortunately it was not yet over. Neither the snow and rain nor the bad road conditions. The last 30km went all downhill, which sounds perfect in the first place but the siky cobbles were back again and it was all wet and really slippery. So slippery that Ragna fell twice even though we went down with less than 20km/h. A real pain for both of us to see give away the altitude which we had laboured to gain without a real downhill ride.
Not enough with that, my bak tire burst around 5km before we reached the next village. At this point I was quite fatalistic already and did not care so much. I was even without strong anger at the prospect to stop cycling from here on if we would not get a spare tyre.

It felt all pretty miserable with the rain constantly pouring down and now descending in this grey round shaped valley.
The atmosphere was not much better in Daju itself with a nondescript accommodation an open pit toilet and hardly any soul walking around i the villag

But things should soon become much much better...
We found a replacement Chinese tyre for me with a massive tread for the extra grip needed here and I could fix my bike.

When we woke up the next morning we could hardly believe what we saw: The sky was almost free of clouds and the cobalt blue sky with and snowcapped peaks around us seemed too god to be true after all this rainy days.

Now we only had to cross the Yangtze river. This should happen on a small ferry. But before we could embark the boat we had to climb around 150-200m steeply down. We knew this would be impossible with our packed bikes but hoped we could find a porter with a donkey. The porter was already waiting when we reached the top of the gorge.

The way up on the other side was even tougher and we were all sweat once we reached the
top. Our porter smiled at us while he already relaxed with a cigarette beside his donkey.

Some hours and dozens of pictures later we had cycled into the Tiger leaping gorge and reached a small hamlet called walnut grove. We found a beautiful small guest house with a lovely terrace directly looking into the gorge and onto peaceful wheat fields. The gorge was so narrow in this spot that we were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the grey and rocky wall in front of us. We enjoyed the scenery for the rest of the day sipping tasty nana mint tea and writing diary.
From tomorrow on we would leave our cycles and hike through the gorge

Mr. & Mrs. Biky in Yunnan - China

Ragna and I fancied a new name and Mr. and Mrs. Biky sounded like a good fit for the kind of trips we do: Great and remote nature, funny and odd incidents and the human encounters along less travelled routes. Not so much super hero but human challenges the humorous way.

We went to Kunming - China and from there tried to get our cycles on a bus to the historic city of Lijiang in the north. It was not so easy in the first place with the very posh bus with its driver and his white gloves who refused to take us, but eventually worked fine.

Now our plan was to start cycling from Lijiang a day later.
The weather held us back with heavy rains and rather low temperatures at an altitude of 2500m.

So we enjoyed the old town Lijiang whith its beautifully restored old town for some more days than planned. After three days we got really itchy feet and could not wait longer. The conditions where not very inviting with constant rain when we cycled out of the city and no change in sight.

We passed Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain >5600m) which we could hardly see because of the low hanging clouds. It got colder and colder as we ascended and when we reached the pass at above 3000m it snowed heavily. We were both exhausted and cold. On top of that my fitness level was not too good with the flue I had caught coming from stressful work in tropical Singapore to cold and rainy weather in China's mountains.

Just a few minutes in the cold without cycling were enough to cool the fingers of Ragna so much that we had to find shelter with some heating. A rather desperate situation in this remote spot. Luckily we were close to a tourist centre bringing people to the cable cars that lead up to the mountain.
The only problem was we were late and they were closing without the chance to stay there overnight. Luckily we got at least some hot tea and could warm up and relax shortly.

Totally wet even inside our GoreTex pants and jackets we got back on the bikes hoping we could reach a small hostel nearby before nightfall. The snow was now falling in thickets and we were not really cheering.
According to our info we had another 12km ahead of us with mainly level terrain. The info proved to be wrong and after some km and slight ascends it went steeply down with ever increasing snow. It got so strong that the visibility was limited to below 50m. After the first few bends downhill Ragna had enough and suggested that we turn back because there might but steep ascents following.

A proposal I was not really fond of and had so far in my cycling life never been forced to accept. Let's put it that way: I am generally not to enthusiastic about giving up and taking the same route back, and of course who else is?!

But the facts were against us:
  • The info about the route already proved wrong
  • We had no tent and no real winter equipment
  • Temperatures below freezing point
  • We were totally wet, exhausted and very cold
  • I had a flue and was surely not prepared to stay outside overnight
I agreed teeth grinding to turn back and cycle all
We had another two hours of daylight and had to be fast.
The way back was easier than expected going mostly downhill.
The certainty of beautiful guest houses with hot showers and a tasty veggy dinner gave us the extra power needed to reach the city before it got dark.
When we stopped at the outskirts of the city to have a quick bite I suddenly felt my frozen fingers and felt incredible pain. It took ages to warm them up at a little stove and I felt like a more like a mountaineer than a cycling day tripper.

Once we reached our guest house we looked like ghosts.
Out joy of the hot shower can not be underestimated and I felt like a little baby once I jumped or better stumbled powerless into a thick layer of blankets on the bed.
Ragna was still a bit fitter than I am and organised an incredible variety of fantastic Yunnanese dishes for dinner.
Soon after we both fell asleep in our warm and cosy home dreaming of freezing mountain scenery and snow storms.