Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Crossing The Sahara On A Bicycle

I entered the Devils Garden after 9000 km:s of headwinds and extreme weather. And problems with my bicycle. I had spent a month in the oasis of Laghout waiting for a new back wheel. I spent this time together with some of the finest people I have ever met. Belkacim, Salah and Redha. They treated me like a King. But I was eager to try to pass through the Sahara Desert before it got to hot!
Now crossing the Sahara desert by bicycle is not easy. Back then in 1989 I knew Ian Hibble had crossed the Tamanrasset Rout in the early seventies. And a couple of English guys had done the Tanezrouft Route 1988. All three of them had close encounters with death. Mirages, hallucinations, extreme heat with day tempertures aroun 50 degrees C, lack of water, and fears of dying of thirst.
The Devils Garden was an 800 km long stretch between the oasis of Tamanrasset and Arlit. But before getting there I had almost the same distance from Laghout. It was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done. Plateau, valleys, gorges and even other cyclists. I met Mick, Charlie and Jeremy sitter under an acaia tree at the camping in Tamanrasset.
Three of us headed into the Devils Garden together. We had the capacity to bring water to last us a maximum of three days. The main issue initially was were to travel. The road was a kilometer wide with vehicule tracks. Most of the time we were forced out on the edges, pushing our heavy bikes. The sandstorms caused most of the drama. It scared us. We got stuck for too long, no water, no visibility and it hurt. We were saved by the most extraordinary circumstances. A car stuck in the sand. Unable to move. We saved their lives. They ours.
Now the easy part of crossing Africa was done!

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