From Cairo to Cape to combat poverty.

2008-01-17 00:00

Six cyclists who have set out on a daring venture to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town with the goal of raising $300 000 in support of the war against extreme poverty in Africa are well on their way.

The team is made up of South Africans Grant McDermott, Gareth Brauteseth and Didi Francis (the only woman) and Irishmen Ollie Fegan, Dennis Dwyer and Niall Treacy.

They aim to help raise funds for Millennium Promise, which aims to end extreme poverty by 2025 in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Leading supporters of the Millenium Promise include celebreties Angela Jolie, Brad Pitt, Bono and Madonna

Its Millennium Villages initiative operates in 79 villages in 10 countries in Africa, tackling hunger, disease, inadequate education, lack of safe drinking water and absence of essential infrastructure to help communities achieve sustainable development.

The cyclists were greeted in Cairo by the Irish ambassador, South African and Egyptian diplomats and journalists. The first ride took them through the villages of the Nile valley. While camel riding at the Pyramids, two of the cyclists took a two-metre tumble.

However, last Tuesday, it was time to abandon sight-seeing, strap on their cycling shoes and start the long haul to Cape Town.

Said one of the cyclists, “When the police dropped us outside Cairo, we faced the first challenge. The road disappeared into the horizon flanked by nothing but desert.”

The cyclists each carry about 30 kg of kit on their mountain bikes. They said they are steadily approaching an average distance of 90 km a day and have found the gradual contours of the Nile accommodating.

The team are upbeat about their progress and said they have prepared well for their journey, though two of them have had problems with both their bicycles and legs.

The route is expected to take them through nine countries — Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa — over the next six months.

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