After having circumnavigated the globe on my bike, I hoped to fall back into the safe track of an ordinary life. But as soon as I felt the borders of the A4-life to close, I started to look for other adventures - other challenges. In the middle of the world-map, a huge white spot grinned towards me asking me to find out what colours would match its waste emtiness. Sahara - the worlds greatest desert - twice as big as Europe - never before crossed on a bicycle alone was the ultimate challenge. In the early nineties I was dreaming about crossing the wasteland in a 4WD, but I didn't dare - so why not on i bike?
Partly the track is good road, and partly political unstable with fatal raids by bandits, so most of the traffic is clumpsed together in convois wich stays together until the first lorry has a puncture og engine breakedown. In other words; you can have reason to feel safe when the convoy starts, but as you fall back on your bike, you are nothing but an easy target to anyone wanting to cause your troubles.
In Tamanrasset anything like a road stops. From there you must follow so called 'tracks' thorough the desert. In its heydays the tracks was marked with oildrums for every 10 kilometres, but the drifting sand has changed everything reminding of landmarks long time ago. The best markers are old abandoned car-wrecks scattered around like old scars from the colonial period when french opportunists drove their old Peugeots to their colonies south of the Sahara to sell for double price.
My water budget for the longest strech without any roads or water-supply was 42 litres. It should last 760 kilometres (430miles). My plan to make it was to go during nights and sleep under the hot midday-sun. I had to abandon the plan as the sand somewhere was mixed with stones that hit my rims so badly I was afraid they would break. After two days I knew that I would not succeed. I had 21 litres left and still 450 kilometres to go (about two thirds). Of caurse you can drink your own urine and in that way stay alive some extra hours, but the only logical choise to take was to turn back and figure out another - and better - plan. I decided to go on!
The next days was among the most extreme you can imagine. You know you cant make it, but you keep on pushing! You sink deep into sand, walks over vast stretches of nothingness, see nothing but mirages, hears strange sounds and are constantly on the edge - mentally an physically.
With a few hours margin before a two week long sandstrom set in an with nothing more to drink, I reached Arlit - the first settlement south of Sahra - a miningtown on the very edge of the Sahel where they ut to 1990 dug up 10% of the world production of uran.
I continued southward through Niger and Nigeria. I stopped on the bridge over the Niger river, and at that time I dreamt of sitting in a boat on the river. What I didn't know than is that exactly four years later I should pass under the same bridge in a little boat doing hte whole river from its source in Sierra Leone to its outlet. You can read more about it here.