Durban-born Tanya Edwards and her German boyfriend, Simon Bihr, hit the road for the biggest adventure of their lives next week.
When Tanya Edwards and her boyfriend, Simon Bihr, decided to see the world after years of studying, they thought about travelling in a truck or small bus.

“But then we decided that would be too boring. We needed to make it more interesting and more challenging,” Edwards, 27, said.

They settled on using pedal power for their two-year adventure through Europe and Africa.

“We are on a budget, so it is also a cheap way to travel,” said Durban-born Edwards, who grew up in Port Edward and went to Port Shepstone High School.

Next week, they plan to hit the road on their bicycles for the start of a 20000 km trip.

The start will be in Bihr’s hometown of Aalen in south Germany. It will end in Durban.

Along the way, they will also enjoy their other favourite past-time: rock-climbing.

Both are physicists with PhDs under their belts.

They decided that university had taught them a lot about theory and science, but it was time to learn more about the world.

Already widely travelled, the couple, usually based in Heidelberg, Germany, felt that cycling would take them nearer to the local population in the 24 countries that they planned to travel through.

“A bike sets a nice pace: it is not too fast and not too slow. It is better than having a windscreen between you and the people you encounter, and you also experience the weather,” Bihr, 31, said.

The couple have been visiting Edwards’ family in Durban and in Port Edward, where they put several precious items into a “time capsule” and buried it to open it when they returned after their adventure of a lifetime.

“There is home-made strawberry jam and cherry liqueur made by my dad in Germany as well as a letter to ourselves predicting what we think our expectations will be on the trip,” Bihr said.

Edwards said she believed the highlights would be seeing the mountain gorillas in Uganda, the wildebeest migration at the Serengeti in Tanzania, the Victoria Falls and the pyramids.

“And sleeping in the desert under the stars in Sudan will be another highlight,” she said.

Her partner of four years was looking forward to the same big milestones, but was also planning to appreciate the small things “that you don’t normally think about like when someone invites you in for a coffee”.

He said such small kindnesses might provide bigger memories, particularly because they did not have sponsorship of any kind.

The various languages they would encounter, particularly in the rural areas, might prove a problem, but they have compiled a book of pictures to show what they are saying.

As they planned their route, they had to bear in mind that they had to avoid dangerous countries and war zones and had to bypass high mountains, lakes and seas.

They expect to sleep in their tent in the countryside along the way “if that is allowed in the countries we are in”, Edwards said yesterday.

They will cook their food on a fold-up cooker, and are hoping that they will be able to stay as guests in people’s homes now and then.

They plan to spend eight months in Europe, 14 months in Africa and be in Cairo for Christmas.

The solar panels on the backs of their bikes will charge their various electronic devices, allowing them to phone their families every few days.

Some of their friends have hailed their cycling/rock-climbing adventure, which will also take them through several game reserves, as “awesome”, while others think they are mad.

Their families were initially apprehensive, but were now supportive, they said before leaving for King Shaka International Airport and Germany.

They plan to keep their friends and families updated about the “joy and suffering” of their travels via Facebook.

Check out their website: www.rock-road-rhino.com and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RockRoadRhino/