Accra to Sheringham

 At the end of November I attended the Global Conference for Cyber Resilience in Accra, Ghana. I was on a tight schedule with work expectations so I flew in and out in the same week, but had I the time and resources I would have ridden out. Mapping a route out of the African west coast to Europe is interesting. I got my Ghana visa quickly as part of the conference, but had I ridden out I would have had to do some legwork to get the other countries in order. To ride from Accra to Europe out of Africa would have also needed visas for Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara and Morocco.

A problem with the Mercator map projection that we typically see the world map on is that it shows areas around the equator at scale but then distorts regions as they approach the poles, which is why many people think that Canada is about the same size as Africa when in fact three Canada’s would fit comfortably inside it. This was made plain to me as we passed over Dakar in Senegal and then flew on for nearly another three hours to get to Accra (it’s about the same distance as Toronto to Saskatoon).

Mercator projections were designed to provide true course headings for ships, and they do it well, but they were never designed to show the entire world. This is a Robinson Projection which shows the scale of things much more precisely.

Keeping those African sizes in mind and at an optimistic 400kms per day which includes five border crossings known to eat entire days by themselves, the African portion of this trip is just shy of six thousand kilometres, much of it across the Sahara.

5836kms across some interesting terrain…

I thought I was the first in my family to get out Ghana way, but my Grandad was dropped off there by the Royal Navy in 1940 and then proceeded to support his Hurricane squadron as they drove and flew across the Sahara to get into the war in Libya. They landed at Takoradi, so day one would be a sunrise departure into the equatorial heat (that needs to be felt to be believed) and a six hour ride up the coast to stand on the dock he landed on 83 years ago.

Of course that already puts me behind the 400kms/day average I was aiming at, but after experiencing ‘Ghana Time’ first hand, I suspect that trying to keep to a strict schedule is a sure source of madness in this neck of the woods.

It’s fifteen and a half days at 400kms per to get to the crossing at Gibraltar and I wrapped up the conference on November 30th. If I left December 1st, I could apply twenty days to the Africa portion of the trip and give myself some time for surprises. That’s still a tight schedule though when you consider the borders and terrain I’d be crossing.

If I could be on a ferry on the 20th, I’d be in Spain on the 21st and up in Evora in Portugal at that farm house we stayed at last year in time to meet up with the fam for the solstice. We could put our feet up over the holidays, but I’d eventually push on to Sheringham where I’d have a cottage rented for the rest of the winter and spring. A winter two wheeled insertion into England might require some patience as I’d have to wait for a weather window, though hanging out in Portugal for several weeks during the darkest days wouldn’t be a hardship.

What to do it on? Yamaha has a dealer in Accra, and riding across the Ténéré on a Ténéré has a certain appeal. If I rode a Tiger all I’d be thinking about is the Monty Python sketch the whole time. The Ténéré 700 has an explorer edition for 2024 which has a bigger tank and comes with luggage and such. It’s not the ideal machine for long overland treks, but it could certainly handle any surprises well enough.

If I were to give into my Tiger fixation, the new 900 Rally Pro model does the trick and would handle the days of making distance better.

Of course, given a choice I’d rather get my unsupported old Tiger sorted out and then take it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I had money I’d be dangerous.

from Blogger