Think about it - a journey of more than 11,000km to be completed in less than three months. A journey that will pass through twelve countries and some of the toughest terrain in this part of the world. And by bike. When were you last on a bike? Mohamad Alali will spend May, June and July in the saddle of his as he attempts to complete his Borderless Mediterranean Journey challenge.
He’s got good form though - he is a previous champion cyclist in his home country of Lebanon. Having lived in Kuwait for some time, he’s keen to set off on what will be his most remarkable cycling journey.
Starting in Egypt on 2nd May, Mohamad has set himself the challenge of completing a gruelling average of 135km a day. He’ll allow himself only two ‘non-riding’ days, and these are the days he’ll have no other choice than to cross stretches of water by ferry - on these days cycling is out of the question.
His journey will take him from Egypt, into Libya and then on to Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria before finally ending his journey in Lebanon.
During the journey he’ll correspond with Kuwait-based writer Astrid de los Rios who is compiling a book and travelling exhibition covering Mohamad’s journey.
The challenges ahead are many, but he has already overcome numerous possible obstacles - not least the crucial logistics of arranging visas for each of the countries he will pass through. Fortunately, once embassies have become aware of the feat Mohamad will undertake, he has found that borders have been opened for him.
Part of the reason for his journey is to remind us all of the closeness of the historical bond that is shared between all people of the Mediterranean region. Borders are man-made. People have historically crossed these borders far more freely than they are able to do so now. Cultures have always permeated borders, and Mohamad expects to see and to share a common heritage with those that he meets on his journey.
There are many other practicalities that he has had to consider during his preparation for the journey. Not least the bike itself. He’ll ride a mountain-bike style bike - as is typical for journeys of such great length. And he’ll have to carry his supplies with him. Getting a puncture he isn’t equipped to fix 100km outside of Tripoli is not something Mohamad plans on being caught out by.
He’ll have to fuel himself well - his daily calorific will be huge. As he travels across the north of Africa the food will be familiar, when crosses to southern Europe cuisine will change. For the length of the journey he’ll rely on the simple date to maintain his energy levels. An often overlooked source of body-fuel in these days of complex sports foods, Mohamad remains a big fan of them.
You’ll be able to follow his progress by visiting his website at borderlessmed.com where he’s published his daily route schedule.
Perhaps you’d like to ride part of the journey with him? It’s ninety days on the road with some very long and lonely stretches; he’d welcome the company and can be contacted through his website.
Mohamad Alali’s Borderless Mediterranean Journey is being made possible through the generosity of his sponsors which currently include PMI, Cargo Transport Systems, Ali Alghanim Land Rover, and Arkel.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #21 April 2010