Emily Conrad-Pickles and her partner James David reached Cape Town late last week, having ridden 19,000 self-supported kilometers to raise money for World Bicycle Relief.

We’ve been following Emily’s story from the beginning and she’s filled us in on the many adventures – good and bad – along the way. The now seasoned adventurer will be bringing us the full story in her own words soon.

The journey took the pair 11 months – having left on July 12 2015. They’ve climbed 120,000m along the way – that’s enough to burn through 2,300 Big Mac’s – though we’re reliably informed they did fuel themselves with more quality food than that.

The pair have raised £23,000 for the charity that provides bicycles to people across Africa, to help children get to school and adults get to work, and they’re still collecting.

Before setting off on the journey, neither Emily nor James had ever completed a distance journey such as this. They’ve encountered temperatures as high as 55°C heat in the Sudanese desert, some very tough terrain and road surfaces and sickness which at one point involved a medevac to Nairobi when Emily suffered a severe electrolyte imbalance causing issues with her heart. They also had to make their way through showers of rocks thrown by children in Ethiopia, and at points had to re-route due to political unrest.

Amongst all of this, they also met many people who helped them out with food and hospitality as well as bike support and simple kindness along the way, cheering and offering support where it was needed.

  • The difference a bike makes:
  • Student attendance increases by up to 28 per cent and grades increase by 59 per cent
  • Healthcare workers reach 40 per cent more patients and can see them more regularly
  • Entrepreneurs travel 4 times further carrying 5 times more goods, increasing profits by up to 50 per cent

The charity that they are supporting, World Bicycle Relief, provides specially designed, locally assembled bicycles called Buffalo Bikes to people in rural communities across Africa. They tell us that when you give a child a bike, student attendance increases by up to 28 per cent and grades increase by 59 per cent. Healthcare workers reach 40 per cent more patients and can see them more regularly and entrepreneurs travel 4 times further carrying 5 times more goods and increasing profits by up to 50 per cent.

Incredibly, just £95 will buy a Buffalo Bike and the ambitious couple aim to fund over 500 bikes through their fundraising efforts.

Young lady riding a WBR Buffalo Bike in Zambia

Commenting on their ride: Emily said: “A bicycle is certainly not an easy way to travel, especially across Africa however, it is certainly the best way to really experience a country – to meet its people, experience the culture and see so much more of our beautiful planet than you could otherwise.

“Living in London it is easy to exist in a bubble but we have learnt so much from the people that we have met and have enjoyed hospitality beyond our expectations. It is certainly something we will be taking home with us and changing how we live because of it.

“We have also learnt first hand just how important and powerful a bicycle can be in rural Africa; enabling people to travel to school, work and to access healthcare and other services where there is often no other alternative transport.

“For us, this journey has been a once in a lifetime adventure. But for those living in rural Africa, simply having a bike can be life changing which is why we are so proud to have raised so much money for World Bicycle Relief."

Cycling the tough clay roads of western Tanzania-1367-2
Cycling western Tanzania-1825

Over the final 120km into Cape Town, the pair were joined by the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dame Judith Macgregor. She said: “When I heard about Emily and James’s journey I felt inspired to be involved in some way so it was great to have been able to join them for their last section into Cape Town. For millions of people in Africa the bicycle offers the only transport to get to school, work and the doctor. World Bicycle Relief is working tirelessly to provide bicycles to those that need this lifeline to help them get the education, jobs and healthcare they deserve. It’s a thoroughly worthy cause and I am thrilled to have taken part."

You can read more about their journey on the website here. Read the updates Emily wrote for us along the way here.