Ridgeback Panorama in Sahara Desert World Record
Reza Pakravan and his Ridgeback Panorama touring bike have completed a world record attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Record for the fastest crossing of the Sahara Desert by bike.
The 36-year-old Market Security Analyst from London picked the Ridgeback Panorama for its stability, comfort and reliability as a touring bike to cross the world’s biggest desert.
Reza said goodbye to his home comforts on March 2 and embarked on a the gruelling 1200 mile desert crossing, facing extreme heat, sandstorms, accusations of terrorism from border officials and living of survival rations in testing conditions.
On Thursday 17 March Reza completed the crossing after 14 days, starting in Algeria and finishing in Sudan.
“It is an amazing feeling to have cycled across the biggest desert in the world,” Reza said. “I celebrated by going to get a shower as I smelt disgusting and then went to get a good night sleep without having to worry.”
Reza had spent six months prior to the challenge planning the logistics of the trip and ensuring the route was valid, according to the Guinness World Record official requirements. He revealed there were times when he thought the trip wouldn’t happen.
“Unfortunately these days Sahara desert has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. On the west of Sahara, border areas between Mali, Niger and Algeria is becoming one of the most hostile areas in the world. Then there has been the current situation in Libya.”
After battles with immigration offices over visas and much two-ing and fro-ing with Guinness World Record officials to get his route validated, he was ready to embark on the Sahara crossing.
“I had my fair share of problems before I’d even started cycling,” Reza revealed. “First I had problems in Algiers Airport because they thought my CO2 cartridge could be used to detonate a bomb! I spent two hours explaining and finally managed to save them from being taken away from me. Then just before the start I had problem with my GPS and the bike computer and then two flat tyres in one day!”
Reza cycled distances of more than 100miles a day, taking him through remote tribal villages and through vast open desert land.
“In north of the Sahara it was very cold, even during the day,” he revealed. “As I progress towards the south got warmer and warmer. In Sudan it was really hot and I had to cycle in desert tracks and sand which was really tough.”
Although Reza had spent months training for the trip, preparing for the heat and the miles of monotonous cycling, he admits nothing prepared him for being caught in a sandstorm.
“It was tough. I was pedalling into wall of air and sand coming towards me. I spent five hours on the bike and made 10 miles progress! My camera got destroyed, sand left mark on my glasses and on me! I had never seen anything like that. I tried really hard not to stop but couldn’t – nature forced me to stop!”
Reza was having to consume 6,000 calories a day and was drinking seven litres of water boosted his calorie intake from his locally sourced meals with army-issue ration packs.
“I had a local guide with a support car carrying water and equipment as it is prohibited for tourists to travel without a local guide in Algeria, and also it was impossible to carry enough water for the trip with me,” he said.
“I was mainly desert camping but would sometimes be invited to stay at Touareg tribes’ homes or Nomad’s tents in Algeria. In Sudan, I mainly relied on local hospitality as all the doors were open to me. At the end I stayed with a Korean family who are living in the Sahara. It was an amazing experience. My Ridgeback Panorama was fantastic for this trip. It was reliable and comfortable and survived a pretty arduous trip, which is testament to the bike.”
Reza now has few weeks wait for his challenge to be checked by Guinness World Record officials and approved before he is crowned as the fastest person to have crossed the Sahara Desert by bike.
Reza’s challenge was to raise money for a school building charity raising funds for schools to be built in poverty stricken Madagascar by the NGO Azafady – a UK registered charity that helps disadvantaged communities to alleviate extreme poverty.
For more information visit: www.bmycharity.com/schoolproject
For more information on Ridgeback Panorama bikes visit: www.ridgeback.co.uk/bike/panorama.
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