Cross River National Park Adventure
The „Out of Nigeria“-team went on another adventure ride, this time within Nigeria. Toyin Adebola tells us about this trip, his impressions and his home country.
“We did a round trip of about 2,000 kilometers on one of the most challenging adventures of my life so far. We had promised the officials of the Cross River National Park in the south-east of Nigeria that we would be visiting and making a documentary of the adventure.
They had thought we would turn back because of the very difficult roads and weather conditions, but we never ever turn back from a mission. I had sprained both of my knees on an off-road motorcycle ride three weeks earlier and they still hurt. It had been raining non stop for days and I knew we might have to ride in rain. The last time we rode to the Obudu Mountain Resort, the roads were quite challenging. And it wasn't even raining then. I therefore knew that this ride was going to be quite difficult. But I had given the officials of the park my word that we were coming, and my words mean a lot to me.
So, on the morning of August 25th, we hit the road. Niyi Akinmolayan texted me the night before the ride that he couldn't come. That was such a damper, because I was so much looking forward to being on the road with him again. But I understood, because he had just released his latest movie, “The Arbitration” (a must watch), and filming and marketing the movie had taken its toll on his exercise-less body. Lol.
I had made a route following the best direction google maps gave us. But that wasn't the best route. We spent two days on the road trying to get to our destination. Traffic on the Ijebu Ode Benin road set us back by three hours, traffic into Onitsha by another hour. Road constructions that were not properly planned led to chaos on the roads. We got lost in Ibo land countless times. Until God send us an angel in the person of Iroko, a 6'2" videographer on a very noisy motorcycle. I almost needed a hearing aid by the time we arrived in Umuahia to spend the night. But he is such a wonderful person. That was the first time ever we would meet.
We passed easier because we were on motorcycles, but we had a support truck we had to wait for so that we were always a team. I can't even begin to talk about the condition of the roads. I had never known what people who travel to the eastern parts of this country suffer until we made this trip. Don't worry. You will see the videos soon. But getting to the park and meeting the officials and spending time with them absolutely compensated for the stress of getting there.
Nigeria is truly blessed. We just need selfless leaders who are bold enough to put the people of this nation and their wellbeing first. Everything else will improve afterwards. I see clearly the suffering of my people. Those who are not seen or heard everyday. Those whose roads and communities have been devastated by heavy duty trucks plying unkempt federal and state roads through rural communities delivering essential goods across the country. You have not seen Nigeria until you have travelled by road. Trust me.
I am becoming a better person by travelling across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria on motorcycles. I see the blessings, the challenges, the pains of my people, their cries, and yet their love and hospitality. Nigerians are mostly beautiful people. Kind, loving and sociable. It's just that over time, their default love and trust and respect for elders and authority have been used against them. To defraud them, use them and abuse them. But it has not been totally made blunt. You can still feel it when you travel. I lay awake today from 3 am musing on these things. The horrifying roads, the rain that soaked us to our underwear, the long distance, the bugs that bit me, the body pains from riding 13 hours for three days straight are all worth it. I am a more informed person. I am privileged...”
Out of Nigeria: From Fire to Ice
Africa is the dream destination of many of many adventure riders. But what about the other way round? Actually, you don't hear much about Africans dreaming of an adventure trip on two wheels - and making their dream come true. Toyin and Fodeks are on a mission to change that. With their ride from Nigeria to the Arctic they want to share information, create a positive news story from Nigerian and want to inspire other Africans to take on their own challenge.
The weather was rather unfriendly, but there was a warm welcome when Toyin and Fodeks arrived with their BMWs at the Touratech HQ in Niedereschach, Germany. Six degrees and drizzle. The two Nigerians who were travelling outside Africa for the very first time had obviously overestimated springtime weather conditions in the Black Forest. But the bad weather could neither dampen their spirit nor their enthusiasm. After all, they've been dealing with situations far more challenging than this since they started in Lagos in early March, most of them of bureaucratic nature. It didn't take long for them to find out it makes quite a difference when you are travelling with a Nigerian passport.
Until right before their departure, their trip stood upon the edge of a knife when Spain denied the requested Schengen visa. A second try in France was more successful. With the coveted visa in their pockets, the problems continued on their own continent. Toyin and Fodeks got stuck in the Senegal for days. It wasn't until they reached the border that they learned that Mauretania won't let any Nigerians into the country. British cameraman Raph Goldberg on the other hand, who accompanied the two of them, would have been able to enter the country without any problems.
More problems were to be expected at the Moroccan border. Since Toyin and Fodeks were running out of time, they changed their plans and their route and shipped the bikes from Dakar to Paris by air. Once again, it took a lot longer than expected until riders and motorbikes eventually reunited after many complications, bureaucratic obstacles and countless telephone calls. However, they were not allowed to extend their Schengen visas.
One day later, these two Nigerian motorcycle pioneers stood in the Touratech shop in Niedereschach and talked about their plans with contagious cheerfulness. The people of Nigeria do actually travel a lot, but just for business or family reasons and not for travelling in itself. With their project, they would like to reach as many people as possible, not only in Africa, but also in the rest of the world. Because this is what the entire thing is about: Sharing information and inspire others, Fodeks and Toying pointed out, who, by the way, support underprivileged children in their homeland.
Like many others, they've been inspired by the "Long Way Round" series to make their dream come true. Full of enthusiasm, but with little hope they had contacted the production company. This is how they got in touch with Austin Vince, a good friend of cameraman Raph Goldberg, and so, the foundations for "Out of Nigeria" have been laid.
"And now we're here at the Touratech headquarters and feel like kids in a candy store", they said, beaming brighter than the sun. And the fact that Touratech CEO Herbert Schwarz, despite of his full schedule book, took the time to greet them personally made them even happier.
However, we didn't allow them to continue their journey before they installed - among others - fog lights, a top case and handlebar cuffs against the cold. And as Fodek had so far been forced to ride with an open visor because his helmet did not leave enough room for his glasses, they received two new Aventuro Carbon helmets, too.
But before heading north, their journey took them into the opposite direction: to Switzerland and Italy, where friends were waiting. From there, they rode all the way back logging an average of 600 kilometers almost every day while heading on towards Denmark and Sweden. For the final leg of the journey they took a train from Stockholm to Kiruna, where they arrived at the finish line.
“We had ridden day and night in freezing cold and in the rain. Through flat plains, hills, the Swiss Alps, tunnels, slow roads, fast roads, big cities, small towns, good times, bad times, happy moments, sad moments. But we got here! Kiruna is actually 200 kilometers into the Arctic Circle, so we beat the deadline and the finish line by an additional 200 kilometers”, says Toyin.
”When we disembarked the train in Kiruna, we were overcome by all sorts of emotions. But we were overjoyed, relieved, very fulfilled. Now we could exhale. However, the journey is not over yet. The battle and tweeting continues until the bikes arrive in Africa, clear customs and we ride back into Nigeria. Then and only then will be able to sign off and lean back for a rest …”