London to Lagos: Kunle Adeyanju almost died in the Sahara desert during his bike ride

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Kunle Adeyanju is an avowed daredevil who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice and cycled from Lagos to Accra for three days.

But it’s his latest adventure that’s making the buzz after successfully completing a motorcycle ride from London to Lagos.

The journey took 41 days and covered 13,000 kilometers (8,080 miles) through 11 countries and 31 cities.

Adeyanju undertook the trip in part to raise funds for polio, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Ikoyi Metro, Nigeria, of which he is the elected president. He says he chose the cause because of a childhood friend who suffered from this debilitating disease.

“Polio is a personal thing for me…when I was little my best friend had polio and when we went swimming or played football he couldn’t do any of that…Unfortunately my friend is passed away a few years ago. If he hadn’t had polio, he would probably still be alive today.”

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of wild polio virus in 2020, but there are still vaccine-derived cases in the country.

hair-raising moments

Adeyanju’s dizzying run through some of the toughest terrain in the world led to some hair-raising moments in Morocco, he told CNN.

“The experience of riding the Tizi n’Tichka pass is the path that takes you to the top of the Atlas mountain. It is considered the most dangerous road in Africa. of adrenaline and it’s a road where you take your eyes off the road for a second or you can go into the ravine…

“It takes about 1h30 to climb a mountain pass. And I can tell you that it is one of the most difficult 1h30 of my life.

“But you know, after going through all that pressure, when you get to the top of the Atlas Mountain…the reward of the view is more than all the pressure you went through to get there.”

After the thrill of riding through the mountains, Adeyanju headed for the Sahara Desert, an experience he says he dreads because of the extreme heat.

“There was a time when I was checking the temperature when I was on the Mauritanian side of the Sahara and the tarmac was 53 degrees Celsius (127 F). I was pushing my bike at 150 km/h and there was an accident waiting “, did he declare. said.

Traveling 1,000 kilometers a day, it took him seven days to cross the desert.

“The Sahara is a hostile environment,” he said. “It’s not designed to support life. The Sahara is here to kill you. It doesn’t forgive. You make a mistake and you may not come back.”

During the most difficult part of the trip, he suffered two sandstorms and nearly ran out of water, Adeyanju said.

“The Sahara on the Moroccan side is totally different from the Sahara in Mauritania. On the Moroccan side there is a lot of wind. I experienced a sandstorm twice which lasted about 30 to 40 minutes. I had to put the bike and lie face down for 30 minutes until the storm passes,” I recalled.

Kunle Adeyanju (C) arrives at the Rotary Club of Ikeja in Lagos on May 29, 2022, after a 41-day trip from London by motorbike to raise funds and awareness for the End Polio campaign.

Kunle Adeyanju (C) arrives at the Rotary Club of Ikeja in Lagos on May 29, 2022, after a 41-day trip from London by motorbike to raise funds and awareness for the End Polio campaign.

BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images

After surviving the storms, he said he almost didn’t make it out alive because he had run out of water.

“I got carried away and was drinking because I was tired and by the time I realized I only had a liter left in my hydration pack and I had about 450 kilometers to go .”

Dehydrated, disoriented and forced to drive slowly, I suddenly saw a Land Rover parked in the desert.

“Nature spoke for me,” I said. “Some guys were on a desert safari. I drove up to them and I couldn’t speak…my speech was slurred…The guy just said ‘don’t talk, don’t talk’. Then he got into his car and gave me two 1.5 liter bottles of water, if i haven’t seen these guys i don’t know if i will be here today.

Adeyanju also had a few frightening moments in the desert, when he suddenly started hearing voices, even though there was no one around – a phenomenon in which the atmospheric conditions of the arid terrain can carry sound over long distances.

“It clearly brings the sound waves of the voice to you…and you hear voices all around,” he said. “A lot of people think they are spirits, but that’s just science,” he added.

Rethinking Africa

Documenting his travels on social media, Adeyanju has attracted many fans and supporters, including Rotary club members and other members of the cycling community. He also met a few high-profile fans, including Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, who asked to meet him, he said.

Adeyanju, who has visited 75 countries, says the most surprising thing about his adventures was making an unexpected discovery about Africa.

“Before doing this trip, I read a lot on the CIA World factbook about the countries I was going to travel to. For example, I eliminated Burkina Faso from my trip because of what I read about Burkina Faso, but the moment I set foot on the African continent… I can tell you that everything I read about the African people or the African country is wrong, he said said.

“Africa is beautiful. It is a land of diversity. It is a land of hospitality and the people are friendly and kind…It was an eye opener for me to say that we have underestimated the Africa…and we have That’s why I started a campaign called ‘Think Africa’ My next vacation, all I want to do is in Africa There’s so much to discover about this continent.

Editor’s Note: You can donate to Adeyanju’s fundraising appeal at gofundme.com

Top photo credit: BENSON IBEABUCHI/AFP via Getty Images