In a world where I spend an hour and a half contemplating whether or not I should get a cab to go to a restaurant down the street because I am too lazy to walk, someone my age cycled from Cape Town to Cairo!
Tetsuya Mizoguchi is a 23-year-old Japanese mechanical engineering student who turned his cycling “hobby” into a legit jaw-dropping achievement.
Over the course of 140 days, Tetsuya crossed the entire African continent while cycling from Cape Town to Cairo, passing through 8 different countries. Which makes for a total of 29 countries that Tetsuya visited on his bike.
I know you are envying him, I did too when I first heard. But that envy quickly turned into pure admiration when I sat down with Tetsuya and heard about all the struggles and dangers he faced during his very, very hard adventure.
Hold on to your handles; this bike ride is filled with surprises!
1. What made you fall in love and take on cycling in the first place?
As a kid, riding a bike was just a fun outdoor activity for me. However, during middle school, I moved to Thailand with my parents. And during the three years we stayed in Bangkok, I couldn’t ride my bike at all because it wasn’t as safe as Japan to just ride my bike in the streets.
When I got back to Japan after that, the first time I rode my bike again, it felt like never before, like I am free flying. And that’s when my cycling addiction started.
2. Why did you decide to cycle from Cape Town to Cairo?
When I first took on cycling around the age of 20, I cycled all across Japan. I guess you could say that that was my first adventure. After that, I cycled all around South East Asia. My next challenge was Europe; I cycled from Barcelona to Paris and crossed through 12 European countries with my bike.
I wanted to cross Africa next. And the safest road to do so was the road straight from Cape Town to Cairo.
3. How many stops did you make along the way?
I only made one stop along the way at Nairobi, capital of Kenya. I stayed there for 10 days to finish up some traveling documents.
4. What was the hardest challenge you faced during your trip?
I was held at gunpoint by two guys on a highway in Johannesburg, South Africa. They took all the money I had and my cellphone. Thankfully, I still had my credit cards on me and I was fine and my bike was fine, so I continued on my way.
5. What was the most challenging point during your trip that had you wanting to give up and go home?
The hardest point was around the time I was biking in Ethiopia. The valleys there were extremely steep. So climbing them up and coming down from them was so hard that it had me crying.
The second hardest was in the Sahara desert in Sudan. It is very big and very windy and there are constant sandstorms. So to ride my bike I had to keep my eyes down which was dangerous, of course.
But thankfully, I didn’t have enough money to give up and go home so I kept going.
6. You don’t benefit from your biking career, financially?
Biking is not a business for me. I don’t care about money; I do it because I love it. And I learn a lot from it. The friendships I made through my travels are enough for me. I basically have a friend in every country. And to me, that is far more important than money.
7. Who helped you the most to be able to keep going?
Thankfully, my sponsor company OSG has been extremely supportive. They provided me with all the equipment I needed for my trip. Not only that, SOMTA, the OSG group company in South Africa also had me over while I was in Africa and helped when I got robbed.
8. What is next for you? Any more adventures coming up?
Well, I am still a student. And to take this last trip, I had to take a 5-month-long vacation out of college. So now that I finally finished, I will be going back to school to finish my last year of college and hopefully get a job as a mechanical engineer in my sponsor company.
As for cycling adventures, cycling will forever be my favorite hobby and I will never stop exploring the world with my bike.
I have to say, it was incredibly inspiring to meet Tetsuya and talk to him about his mind-blowing adventures. And of course, welcome him to Egypt.
As for me, I officially declare myself a retired old lady!