Pioneer West Africa Cycle Challenge offers four days riding on unique Sierra Leone to Liberia route - Road Cycling UK

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Pioneer West Africa Cycle Challenge offers four days riding on unique Sierra Leone to Liberia route

Challenge includes week-long trip, with 300km to ride over four days of cycling on tarmac and dirt roads

We’re spoiled for choice in the UK when it comes to supported bike rides, and there are even more on our doorstep in Europe. Whether you want to pay a tour company to cater to your every whim while competing in the Haute Route, or ride the length of Britain for charity with Deloitte on the Ride Across Britain the world is really your oyster.

There are supported charity rides and multi-day sportives all over the place, all sharing some basic characteristics – beautiful roads, support cars, regular feed zones and a general epicness of scale.

But what if your taste for adventure extends a little bit further? Ever wanted to ride your bike in somewhere that’s totally off the grid?

The West Africa Cycle Challenge is a 300km ride from Sierra Leone to Liberia (pic – WACC)

While still relatively few exist, new events are popping up in far-flung places; dotted around the globe are sportives and supported rides that go far beyond the ‘cycle iconic roads, eat cake, repeat’ routine.

Take Street Child’s West Africa Cycle Challenge, for example, which debuts in May 2017.

Pioneer spirit

A group of ‘pioneers’ will help the launch the Challenge on May 30 this year, with an intrepid bunch of cyclists pedalling from Bo in Sierra Leone to Robertsport on the coast of Liberia (a distance of 300km/180 miles) over four days, as part of a week-long trip.

And while that distance may not sound too taxing, there are a number of factors to consider.

For starters, all riding will be done in the hours just after dawn, because the extreme heat in West Africa makes it tough to cycle anywhere once the sun rises – all of a sudden, 50 miles doesn’t seem like a casual Saturday pootle, does it?

And then of course, there are the roads; around 50 per cent of the planned route is on tarmac but that still leaves half of the ride on hard-packed mud roads which have a tendency to, well, ‘disappear’ in heavy rains. Not even the local B-roads you ride in winter can say that.

Roxanne Hargreaves, from event organiser Street Child, outline the full scale of the challenge and rewards on offer.

The 300km ride takes place over four days of cycling, with a further stop in Monrovia afterwards [click to view on Strava]

She said: “Yes, it will be really, really tough, but the countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone are reward in themselves.

“This is a landscape like nothing the riders will have ever seen before – unlike anything they’ve ridden through. In terms of a unique challenge it doesn’t get more special than this.

“And of course there are the Street Child projects we’ll visit along the way, which participants will be directly helping by taking part.”

The ride is 50 per cent on tarmacked roads, but the other half covers dirt tracks and challenging terrain (pic – WACC)

Not that this is a typical route to ride. “As far as we know, exactly one person has ever ridden this route on a bike; a guy named Florian who volunteered for us at Street Child,” Roxanne adds.

“He had an incredible time and it was his inspirational trip that made us want to offer this up to more people. Those who do the ride in May will be the first group of many – blazing a trail for those to come.”

Tempted? Registration for the seven-day Pioneer West Africa Cycle Challenge trip, which includes a final night in Montrovia, once the cycling is done, is now open.

Taking place from May 30 to June 6, the travel package costs £750 (flights not included) and there is a £1,500 fundraising target attached. To register, or to find out more, visit or visit them at this week’s London Bike Show.


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