Christ­mas in the desert for marathon mo­tor­cy­clist

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Michael DeFroand mde­froand@thek­m­

HARDY ad­ven­turer Spencer Con­way spent Christ­mas plough­ing through the Ethiopian desert on his mo­tor­bike.

Mr Con­way is 59 days into his epic solo cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of Africa in aid of Save The Chil­dren.

He left his home vil­lage of Bid­den­den on Novem­ber 1 as he set out on his jour­ney of 24,000 miles through 28 coun­tries.

His jour­ney has at­tracted sup­port from far and wide, in­clud­ing from ac­tor Richard E. Grant, who has be­come the mis­sion’s pa­tron, and even from Prince Harry.

Mr Con­way’s fa­ther Michael last heard from Spencer, thanks to the oc­ca­sional on­line con­nec­tion, just be­fore Christ­mas.

He said: “We be­lieve that he is on the bor­der be­tween Ethiopia and Kenya. We heard from him on Christ­mas Eve from Addis Ababa.

“He got through Su­dan and trav­elled for seven hours through the desert without see­ing any­body.”

His in­fre­quent con­tacts have of­ten been filled with in­ci­dent, such as his bike be­ing van­dalised by an an­gry gang while he was in Egypt last month.

Michael Con­way said: “He went on a very un­known route and was stopped by the mil­i­tary, who told him it was a very danger­ous road and that he couldn’t come that way.

“He went back 100km – they pointed him east and he fol­lowed that.

“There was noth­ing, just some sticks in the road point­ing up­wards ev­ery kilo­me­tre or so. He fol­lowed them and even­tu­ally got to Khar­toum.”

He added: “On the road to Ethiopia he was stopped again be­cause he didn’t have an Alien Cer­tifi­cate and was sent back to Khar­toum – an­other 100km.”

A trou­ble­some flint road saw one of Spencer’s tyres get ripped to shreds. Hav­ing re­paired that he bat­tled on only to have an­other tyre de­stroyed.

He was stranded in the desert for a day and a half, his mo­bile phone out of range, un­til some passers-by helped him source a re­place­ment tyre.

Mr Con­way said: “He was also bit­ten by some hor­ren­dous in­sect in his tent and got a hideous fever.”

De­spite such set­backs, the trip has had its bless­ings.

“Spencer said Ethiopia was the most mag­nif­i­cent coun­try he has ever seen,” said his fa­ther.

“He was feel­ing a bit down when we heard from him be­cause it was Christ­mas and he had had a bit of rough time, but he’s fine and he’s en­joy­ing it. He’s tak­ing the rough with the smooth.”

Mr Con­way, who lives with his part­ner Cather­ine and their two daugh­ters, is ex­pected back in about six months’ time.

Any­one want­ing to spon­sor him or read more about the jour­ney can visit www.africabike-ad­ven­

Spencer Con­way of Bid­den­den pre­pares for his mam­moth mo­tor­cy­cle trip across Africa

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