Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bikes: Just get me to Zambia

I know I have now ordered my bike for the TdA. And I am really looking forward to getting my Genesis croix de fer. And I know that one of the major selection criteria was whether or not it would get me all the way from Cairo to Cape Town. But I am feeling a little less anxious today because I have just been introduced to a bike manufacturer in Zambia that is making brilliant bamboo bikes. So now all I need to do is get to Zambia on the croix de fer. If I break down there I can pick up a bamboo Zambike for the rest of the trip. Check them out at http://www.zambikes.org/ . An impressive story. Zambikes is “a social business that manufactures, assembles and distributes high quality bicycles, bicycle ambulances and cargo bicycle trailers to the underprivileged, empowering individuals to fight the mindset of poverty and address the economic and social needs of Zambia.” Zambikes was started by Dustin McBride and Vaughn Spethmann who visited Zambia on a University lead trip in 2004 and recognised the need for high quality bicycles, not only in Zambia but throughout Africa. While participating in an Azusa Pacific University class for entrepreneurs in 2006 they developed a business plan, and in 2007 launched the business in Zambia. Since Zambikes’ launch in 2007, they have:

  • Assembled and delivered over 8,000 bicycles
  • Employed an average of over 30 Zambians
  • Custom designed and manufactured over 900 Zambulances and Zamcarts
  • Built over 300 custom Bamboo frames
  • Purchased 20 acres of land in Lusaka West and built our warehouse and community center
  • Provided education sponsorships for over 15 staff members

Gotta get one.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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See # 10: Dr Julie Makani – Africa innovations: 15 ideas helping to transform a continent | World news | The Observer

Africa innovations: 15 ideas helping to transform a continent | World news | The Observer

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Training: broken spokes

I got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning because I had a ride at 6:30 and knew I had a flat that needed fixing. Too lazy to do it the night before. I thought I would fix the flat then have a leisurely breakfast. No such luck. As I was taking the tire off I noticed that I had another broken spoke – right at the nipple so it was hard to see. I had another spoke but I was also pressed for time. I had to leave at 6:15 to get to the ride start point. So I got out the tools, took the rear cassette off, pulled out the broken spoke, threaded in the new one, put the cassette back on, put a new tube in, found the valve on the new tube was defective, put a second new tube in, it worked, put the wheel back on, sort of trued the wheel and looked at my watch. It was now 6:10. I jumped into my shorts and shoes, filled water bottles, jumped on my bike and was gone. No breakfast. And …. I was the first one there. Should’ve had breakfast. Nice ride though.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Sickle Cell Centre of Excellence

I had an excellent meeting with Dr Julie Makani of the Sickle Cell Foundation yesterday. We have done two new things. We have wrapped the Alan Knight Tour d’Afrique fundraising campaign for the Sickle Cell Foundation into the larger, US$2.7million fundraising campaign for the Sickle Cell Centre of Excellence at the Muhimbili Hospital here in Dar Es Salaam. And we have put together a corporate sponsorship appeal and have begun to go out to corporate sponsors.

This is all very exciting. The Sickle Cell Centre of Excellence is desperately needed in Tanzania. The team at the hospital and the Foundation are doing a great job of raising awareness and establishing a a world class facility. It is inspiring to see their dedication and professionalism.
If you would like more details on the Sickle Cell Centre of Excellence Campaign or the Corporate Sponsorship Appeal, let me know by sending a note to alan@taylerknight.co.uk

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Training: Pande Forest Loop

I have had a few good rides this week but the toughest was undoubtedly the Pande Forest Loop yesterday – a 70 km ride with 50 km off road and well over 1000 metres of climb in the hills of the Pande Forest behind Dar Es Salaam. I went with Chris and Dan. Chris had a full suspension mountain bike. Dan was also on a mountain bike. I was on my hybrid with the 1.35 road tires. Not the best choice. The off road bits were very technical. Lots of sand. Lots of deep ruts and gullies, including one crevice about two feet wide, ten feet deep and forty feet long at the side of a single track. Lots of branches and thorns. Lots of very steep descents followed by equally steep ascents. Many must have been 15 degrees plus. It was grueling. The whole ride took 5 hours. I lost most of my time going down the hills. With the steepness and the sand I was afraid of wiping out on my narrow tires. Chris and Dan had no such fears. They blasted down the hills like kids leaving the classroom on the last day of school. I felt like the teacher, worn out at the end of a long year, trying to maintain my decorum and not collapse in a heap. I did find out that the hybrid can do these very technical tracks but not with any speed. So do I need to rethink my choice of a cyclo cross bike for the TdA? Should I get a hard tail? Shit. Thought I had made my decision. Off on an easier but longer ride to South Beach tomorrow.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Getting serious about training

I am starting to get a little anxious about training. In the past my only training has simply been to ride and then ride some more – with a little stretching.  And on longer rides there has always been an element of riding yourself into better shape. I accept that. But with my current work and travel schedule my riding comes in spurts.  I am home for three weeks and try to ride a lot. I am then away for two weeks and don’t get on a bike. I also don’t go on every ride I should. I was going to go on a ride this morning but missed the call to say when it was starting and before I knew it I hadn’t lifted my head from the computer for four hours and it was lunch time.

And then today I got a message in my inbox advertising fitness courses at a club I belong to. I typically delete these things without reading them. But today I read it. It was offering a number of courses, such as:

BODY TONING & STRETCHING – Helps strengthen muscles, joints, ligaments as well as the cardiovascular system, where stretching helps maintain flexibility.  These exercises will help prevent neuro-degenerative disease and muscle tension, and will increase blood circulation throughout the body.

Wow! But regardless of the excessive and questionable claim of preventing neuro-degenerative disease, would it be useful? I may change the habits of a lifetime and join a fitness class. Will I have to wear a neon colored leotard? I’ll let you know how it goes.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Technology in the quiet zone

One of the things I need to figure out is what technology I will use to communicate while I am cycling across Africa. Don’t get me wrong. It is not as if I want to stay as wired as we have all become in the last couple of decades. I don’t. It is more a question of ‘what do I need to stay minimally connected’ so that when I need to communicate it is there and when I don’t it leaves me alone.

When I was 20, in the early 70s, I did a year at the University of Nice in the South of France. During that year, I had absolutely no expectation that I would talk to anybody I couldn’t see or touch. We wrote letters. Put them in envelopes. Put stamps on them. And put them in letter boxes. Odd. Phones were expensive, not something 8 year olds get for their birthday. In fact, the only time I phoned home during that year was when we were cycling in the hills behind Nice and found a phone box with a broken phone it. I think the coin mechanism was jammed. You could phone anywhere in the world for nothing. (You may well ask what we were doing testing phones in the hills behind Nice. Nothing drug induced or paranormal I’m afraid. We had simply received a tip that it existed so had rushed off to see if it still worked – or was still broken.) Unfortunately when we tried it again the next week it had been fixed.

But traveling through Africa is a different challenge. There is that tension between voluntarily entering the ‘quiet zone’ and the need to stay connected. Some times the quiet zone will be enforced, but not always. So I need to figure out what will be best. Do I take laptop? Or just a smart phone? Or neither? Do I just take a ‘bog standard, doesn’t matter if I lose it’ phone. Do I buy local SIM cards or get a ‘covers all’ data and roaming package? Or do I just take a pencil and a notebook and use Internet cafes when and where I find them? Any type of phone, laptop or netbook will need to be charged. That means more technology and more time babysitting it.

Back in the 70s I would not be asking myself any of these questions. At the end of the 70s I lived in Northern Nigeria for two years. I didn’t talk to my parents – or anybody else outside of Nigeria – for those two years. I didn’t feel deprived or lost. I was in the quiet zone and that was fine.

I thought this was just about riding a bike.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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