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Peter Gostelow: 100,000km by Bicycle

Adventure Travel
Peter sweating his way up a hill in northern Mozambique. Photo: Peter Gostelow

British adventure cyclist Peter Gostelow has pedaled over 100,000km through more than 70 countries. We caught up with Peter to ask him about some of his experiences on the road.

ExWeb: Your first major solo tour took you from Japan back to the UK, a three-year journey from 2005 till 2008 in which you covered nearly 50,000 km. What inspired you to take up cycle touring? Did you build up to a trip of this magnitude, how did you prepare yourself?

I had been backpacking before and had generally become bored with it. I wanted a way to travel slowly, self-sufficiently and to go wherever and whenever I wanted. I wanted the true freedom to explore. While living in Japan, I spent several weeks touring the island of Kyushu. That was my first solo tour. This trip inspired me to set off from Japan on something much greater. I had no timetable nor specific route in mind.

Cycling at 4,000m across the original “roof of the world” in the Pamirs of Tajikistan. Photo: Peter Gostelow

ExWeb: More recently you have spent a great deal of time cycling in Africa, including a 2009-2012 journey from the UK to Cape Town, South Africa, for The Against Malaria Foundation. Your route down the continent included a number of countries that are little visited by travellers, such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC in particular has a reputation for instability and lawlessness. Did you run into difficulties here?

Not specifically in those countries, although I was aware of the fragile security situation in places where there was a lot of poverty and little rule of law. There were many police road blocks manned by drunken soldiers who were usually just bored and hungry and looking for a way to make some money. The Congo was insecure when I was there in 2011, but I think it is more so now, or perhaps that’s only because I read more of the news these days, or that the news reports more on what is happening there. It’s real adventure territory for sure, so time and flexibility are definitely needed.

A rough dirt track to the town of Baraka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Peter Gostelow

ExWeb: What do you typically carry with you on your bike? Do you pack the same essential kit for every journey or do you tailor your gear based on the countries you are travelling through?

I usually always pack camping equipment, even if I may not use it. Most of my tours have been long, so I like to pack for most eventualities and leave some space to throw in food.

ExWeb: In 2015, you cycled extensively in Eastern Africa before travelling to Oman via Somaliland on a cargo ship. Can you tell us a little about how you came to gain passage on the ship and your memories of the crossing?

I knew that the port of Berbera in Somaliland was a popular exit point for boats crossing the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian peninsula. The most common export here is livestock (cows, goats and to a lesser extent camels). Hundreds of wooden boats built and manned by Indian crews ply the seas, so it was basically a case of finding a boat that was heading to Oman. This took some days, and I ended up on a boat transporting 500 cows. The experience was unforgettable and the crew of 15 were very welcoming.

Drawing a crowd in rural Nigeria while repairing a punctured inner tube. Photo: Peter Gostelow

ExWeb: You’ve covered huge tracts of the planet on your bicycle already, but what countries or areas remain on your bucket list and why?

The rest of the world really! The Americas for sure, but I also just like the idea of the simplicity of leaving the UK again on two-wheels and riding east; spring in central and northern Europe, summer in the Caucasus and Kazakhstan, Mongolia if it’s not too cold after that. But there is so much of Asia I haven’t seen; Indonesia, northern India and Kashmir, the Philippines, Taiwan. Australia and New Zealand would be great, so basically everywhere.

Work commitments will keep Peter close to home until 2020, but he is already beginning to plan his next tour. You can follow Peter through his Instagram (@petegost) or on his website at www.petergostelow.com.

Flat dirt tracks can make for steady progress in the dry, but become almost impassable in the wet. A bamboo tunnel in the Congo. Photo: Peter Gostelow

About the Author

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh

Saigon based freelance writer. Travelling the world one basketball court at a time.

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