Eleven countries, 31 cities and 41 days – Nigerian adventurer and professional motorcyclist Kunle Adeyanju on the tough terrain and temperatures he had to endure, and how he almost met his maker along the way.
What does Mt Kilimanjaro, the Sahara Desert and the Spanish Coast have in common?
Nigerian-born self-proclaimed daredevil, Kunle Adeyanju. The adventurer had been pushing the boundaries of his endurance ever since he handed in his resignation from a full-time job working in the oil and gas industry for 15 years.
His exit from the 9-to-5 grind made room for his new love for adventure and travel. Adeyanju began this journey like any wannabe daredevil by ticking off the basics. First came sky-diving followed swiftly by bungee-jumping and then climbing the tallest mountain on the African continent, Mt Kilimanjaro – twice. And oh, not to mention, riding a bicycle for three days from Nigeria to Ghana.
“A lot of people have asked me why I do such risky things and my answer is always ‘why not?’ I have a very clear bucket list of things I want to do before I meet my maker and I have a plan to achieve this list,” says Adeyanju.
And he almost met his maker achieving his latest feat on the bucket list – riding a motorbike all the way from London to Lagos earlier this year.
“I wanted something that would stretch me and possibly break me. I always like pushing the limits of what we can achieve as human beings and I believe that is the only way you grow,” says Adeyanju.
To achieve this, Adeyanju started as he always does – with a plan. It took a year to plan his trip. Firstly, he had to find the perfect motorbike that would help him traverse the merciless conditions he was about to endure. He landed on a Honda as the best choice and placed his order which arrived in three months. Next came creating a riding schedule for his journey.
“When I decided on the bike, I had to check its endurance in terms of fuel capacity. The tank was 17 liters and could do 500km. I added another five liters which gave me a total distance coverage of 645km. That means I had to map out 645km from my take-off to where I would stop and ensure that it lands me somewhere that I could always get services like food and water and most importantly, a place to rest overnight. I decided never to ride at night,” says Adeyanju.
Then finally, equipment. He packed his credit card and three phones including a satellite phone which would enable him to call for help if he was stranded in any remote location, as also a good insurance policy and a navigator.
Once all the prep work was complete, Adeyanju set off from London to Dover where he crossed the English Channel to get to Calais in France. Once in France, Adeyanju hit the open road on his Honda.
“I assumed Africa would be a lot harder to ride through than Europe but I was mistaken. The first few days were tough because I had to deal with sub-zero temperatures. It was freezing cold and I had to navigate carefully across black ice where the temperatures are so cold that ice forms on the road making it very slippery and dangerous plus I had the strong cross winds from the Spanish coast blowing against my bike.”
After skillfully navigating Europe, Adeyanju finally made it to the motherland where his excitement for the warmth was short-lived after a life and death encounter in the Sahara Desert.
“The Sahara Desert is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. It is completely unfriendly to life and everything in the desert is trying to kill you so there is literally no margin for error,” says Adeyanju.
After skillfully traversing two hair-raising sandstorms, Adeyanju thought his third one would be a breeze. But disaster struck.
“The sandstorm hit me for an hour and a half. I weigh 95kg and at that weight, the wind was lifting me off the ground.”
In a last-minute attempt to save his own life, Adeyanju lay on the ground with his bike, which weighed 190kg, on top of him to prevent the wind from carrying him away.
“But that was not the hardest part. The sand is 45-degrees hot so imagine your face on that heat and the abrasive force of the sand making holes in my jacket. In that moment, I thought I was not going to make it. I started praying to God to forgive my sins and to not let me go to hell if I died.”
Thankfully, his prayers were answered and after an hour and 40 minutes of torture, it passed.
“I took off my helmet and that was the first time I realized I was crying. I am still not sure if I was crying because of the pain and torture I had just endured or if they were actually tears of joy that I did not die,” says Adeyanju.
After 11 countries, 31 cities and 41 days, Adeyanju finally arrived in Lagos. His near-death experience has not put him off achieving his full bucket list. For now, his goal is to travel within Africa to bring awareness to the beauty and splendor of the place he calls home.