We have successfully arrived in Paris, the destination of the tour‘s first leg! In early December, E-Bike Africa co-organizer and riding parter Bruce MacLeod and I presented our ambitious project at the COP21 UN Climate Conference conference in Paris.
Having cycled almost 900 km (560 miles) from Glasgow to Paris in wind, rain and snow, both, we were praised by locals along the way and by the international audience at COP21 for the inspiration E-Bike Africa spreads.
“We met so many amazing people, climate activists, scientists and citizens who were so supportive of our aims and actions” says Bruce. “It was very inspiring and we are now even more determined to promote environmentally sensitive actions and technologies, like electric mobility, as part of the solution to climate change.”
To get to Paris we rode electric bikes, provided by Haibike, Germany’s leading e-performance bicycle brand. Epowered by Bosch‘s widely used eBike System, the expedition bikes of Haibike‘s XDURO line are high-performance pedelecs, which means they require the rider to pedal for motor support. A 500 Watt motor assists up to a speed of 45 km/h.
Custom designed solar trailers give us the independence to charge our bike batteries and electronic equipment using renewable energy, anywhere at any time. This is the same technology that will get us out of Europe and over the remaining 19,000km to Cape Town, while leaving the lightest possible carbon footprint.
Glasgow to Paris - a journey full of contrasts
The first leg of the expedition kicked off from Nelson Mandela Place in Glasgow on 19 November 2015 and over the next two weeks Bruce and I travelled between 50 and 110 km a day to reach Paris.
Travelling South across Scotland into England we encountered snow-covered hills and severe winds. The beautiful scenery, friendly faces and cosy village pubs helped us a lot on challenging rides to reach Newcastle Upon Tyne, where we crossed to Amsterdam by ferry.
Coming from the UK, where we often struggled to find cycle-friendly routes, Amsterdam was heaven! In Europe‘s cycling capital, cyclists come first, always and everywhere. The excellent urban and inter-urban network of cycling lanes made for a fantastic riding experience all over the Netherlands. The country‘s flat, picturesque scenery of canals, windmills and the space-age architecture of Rotterdam added to the journey.
Reaching Belgium, we encountered amazing hospitality that turned bad luck into highlights when students in Ghent opened their home to us as all hostels and hotels were full. A hidden military canteen near Antwerp served us a slap-up meal when all other places were closed.
Leaving behind quiet towns in rural France and finally reaching Paris only three weeks after the
terrorist attack, we found a vibrant, well-functioning city with its pride and energy still intact.
An ocean of flowers had been laid at Nations Square, and although there was constant, visible Police presence, a sense of hope filled the air as people from all over the world had gathered in Paris to show their commitment to tackling climate change.
Both Bruce as representative of The Purple Heart Network and I as nature lover and activist for sustainable mobility, welcome the COP21 agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. At the same time we are convinced that this target won’t be reached through policy alone, it’ll be achieved through people power.
“This is where the actions of The Purple Heart Network come in, raising awareness of climate
change through projects like E-Bike Africa, to make sure environmentally sensitive solutions
and technology is available to everyone,” says Johanna Speirs, Chair of the Scottish Charity. We
all believe that protecting the planet for future generations begins at home. In testing and
showcasing what is possible on electric bikes powered by renewable energy Pedelec Adventures
supports the goals and values of The Purple Heart Network while reaching out to a global
Test run for African leg
We are well aware that the first leg from Glasgow to Paris was the easy part, except for the weather conditions. There was easy access to accommodation, food and facilities and paved roads to cycle on. The same won’t be true in Africa where we will cross expansive, undeveloped landscapes, Bruce keeps reminding me. However the first leg was a great test run and highlighted a range of improvements that need to be in place for the 2nd leg, particularly in relation to security and