Beyond the call of duty – Cairo to Cape Town for ColaLife

Lizzie listens to a mother's story in Kalomo

Regular readers will know Ali & Lizzie, the couple who are cycling from Cairo to Cape Town for ColaLife (and two other charities close to their hearts). Well here is some sad news about a very determined woman. This is a quoted straight from their blog. The original post is here.

Last Leg – Lost Leg
As a group of riders, we have all come here for different reasons, but there is one goal which nearly all riders aspire to at the start of the trip – the elusive E.F.I (Every F@*!ing Inch). Achieving E.F.I (and never seeing the inside of the truck) is said to be a matter of good health, a robust bike, a strong mind and, most importantly, luck. The tour is a machine which waits for nobody, the miles are already set, the camps picked, the water pick ups arranged. This preordained and unrelenting pace hovers over all of us and puts a pressure on riders who might otherwise flex their plans to listen to the needs of their body; typically just under 25% of any group achieve E.F.I.

After a serious bout of vomiting and diarrhoea Ali lost his E.F.I in Ethiopia, spending a day and a half in the truck. Other than one further day off in Botswana with a fever he has ridden on through all other ailments since that point. Until Windhoek, Lizzie was one of just four girls who retained the status pushing through each kilometre day after day. With one last stretch from Windhoek to Cape Town the end almost in touching distance. However, it was not to be.
Two days prior to Windhoek a bad saddle sore had developed and a fever was taking hold, with her temperature over 40 degrees. A group of fellow riders, knowing her commitment to the challenge, heroically formed a group around her, setting a steady slow pace and sheltering her from the wind, they pulled her the 160km in to the rest day. A trip to hospital and a malaria test later, it transpired that the saddle sore was the cause of the fever and a small abscess was removed under local anaesthetic. Having thought that her E.F.I was in tatters it was with pleasant surprise that Lizzie tentatively placed her battered behind on her saddle to ride out of Windhoek and in to the desert.

By lunch the bubble was burst. If we give Lizzie’s left thigh a value of 1, then after the 60km to lunch her right thigh was at least equal to, if not greater than 1.5 (and not due to a growth of heavily defined muscle as we joked about before we set off). The medic recommended it was time to get off her bike. We’ll spare you the in’s and out of all that followed, but a return to Windhoek, six days in hospital on an IV drip of antibiotics, an operation under general anaesthetic to remove a further abscess and a gathering of dead tissue and the insertion of some material in the leg to ‘drain’ it later, things are finally moving in the right direction.
Having missed out on the majority of Namibia, Lizzie rejoined the group at the border with South Africa. With two deep open wounds it looks unlikely that she’ll be able to ride the remaining miles to Cape Town. Testament to her commitment to the tour, her first words upon waking from the anaesthetic were ‘can I get back on my bike?’

Unsurprisingly, not being able to ride the bike changes the very nature of the trip. It’s hard being around camp and listening to people discussing the intricacies of a road which I haven’t ridden. Seeeing the sunrise bumping up and down out the window of the truck is nothing like pedalling along next to it and feeling the warmth increase on your skin as it thaws out your fingers. But there are also positives – not doing 6 – 8 hours of exercise everyday means that I am left with a substantially greater amount of brain power at the end of the day, enabling me to actually string a sentence together and admire and absorb what I am seeing. This is not the end of the trip as I envisaged, but it doesn’t in any way erode the satisfaction I have over what I have achieved.

Thanks Lizzie. And Ali . . . keep on pedalling!


  1. Congratulations on your efforts! You have done more than most of us and I applaud your tenacity. Hope you get well soon. Thanks for all you have done!

  2. Karen Richir says

    I admire your strength and tenacity. Just remember, even though E.F.I may not be on a bike but in a truck, rest assured you are still going E.F.I and an inspiration to us all.