Appeal to support good cause in Ghana during epic bike ride

Alice and Zak on the road to Ghana.
Alice and Zak on the road to Ghana.

A couple who are cycling from Lewes to Ghana in Africa have decided to raise money for a charity which improves sanitation.

Alice Fitzsimons, 22, from Landport in Lewes, is currently in Bamoko in Mali, having set off on this epic adventure with her partner Zak, 24.

The charity they are supporting Dream Big Ghana, works closely with local people to build compost toilets.

Alice said: “Travelling by bicycle we often stay in small villages where there is no drainage or sewage systems.

“People often have to use the bush or the beach where there is one, with resulting health hazards if wandering kids come across it, it can attract vermin, and creates odour and hygiene problems as there’s not often ample water supply or piped water for people to wash their hands every time.

“The money for each toilet (£600) goes directly towards the cost of locally sourced materials and pays local masons to build the structure.”

Alice and her partner Zak are both keen cyclists but had never been on a long tour.

They went to talks by people who had been cycle touring around the world and were inspired.

The couple left in September 2014, starting in Lewes and catching a ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, travelling through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia.

Alice said: “The length of our day varies, at first 40-60km was around average, but now we can do closer to 70km or more, with a rest in the middle of the day when its too hot.

“Travelling by bicycle is a wonderful way to see the world.

“You never miss anything like you do in a car or bus, you have freedom of movement and, especially in Africa, you meet so many people who open their homes to you, bring you tasty food and welcome you to their villages and communities where other visitors would pass by.

“We’ve had some challenging parts though. Crossing the Sahara on the Atlantic road through Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania means a lot of cycling in remote areas, sometimes only passing a town every other day so carrying a lot of water, with sand blowing at you constantly which is very bad for the bicycles, though thankfully its a tailwind that makes you go very very fast, so we couldn’t complain too much.

“Crossing central Senegal was also very hot, it’s the dry season here which means highs of 40C and above in the middle of the day.”

They carried everything they needed in four panniers on the bikes, including a tent and stove.

In cities they have been staying in cheap hotels, or using warmshowers.org which is a couchsurfing style website for touring cyclists.

They used second-hand Marin mountain bikes from the mid 1990s, with steel frames and take less modern but more widely available parts which should be more available in Africa.

To donate visit http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/wheelylongway