#Pulse36 Day 16 This man rode on a bike from Nigeria to Austria

Let's start off with a travel lesson again: Your host will most likely determine how you see a new city you enter.

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This man rode on a bike from Nigeria to Austria play

This man rode on a bike from Nigeria to Austria

(Pulse36)
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Let's start off with a travel lesson again: Your host will most likely determine how you see a new city you enter.

So if your host likes bikes, you'll most likely be seeing a lot of bikes.

And that's totally fine. The beautiful thing about new places is that everyone sees it differently.

We still had some stuff to see in Port Harcourt, so we headed for G.R.A, the bike HQ of the city.

Port Harcourt has the 2nd largest biker community in Nigeria, with Lagos coming first, and Abuja coming next.

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The reasons are obvious; all three are major cities, with higher spending power and more refined tastes.

We were going to meet Derrick, a guy who slept, ate, fixed, and lived for bikes.

This man rode on a bike from Nigeria to Austria play

This man rode on a bike from Nigeria to Austria

(Pulse36)

 

“I have a car but I don't even drive it,” Derrick said as we got talking.

“I'd rather take a cab instead of driving.”

Derrick has been riding for 14 years. He’s rode to Ghana, he's rode round the entire South-South in one stretch. He does all the cool stunts you see. But it has also come at a price.

“The first thing I always tell people is that bikes are dangerous.”

And it's true. Someone once said the closest people to God are a pilot and a biker.

In 2014, our host, Akoji, was riding outside Port Harcourt. He was still a newbie at the time.

He was going fast, really fast and in a fraction of a second, he lost control and the bike started to wobble.

Next thing, he was on the ground, sliding across the road. He was wearing good gear, so his body didn't peel.

At the side of the road was a gutter, and he hit the edge.

His femur, the thigh bone, snapped.

But speed is a drug. And while you see an accident as a “never again" sign, a biker sees it as a lesson. A mistake that shouldn't repeat itself.

Back to Derrick.

“I've crashed thrice,” he said, “but I haven't broken anything yet.”

 

We talked about passion and speed, then he said he wanted to show us a few stunts.

Time to ride.

The road in front of where we were has a school with an open field.

It was afternoon and the kids know the drill. Once they hear the revving sound of a bike, they jostle for the front at the school’s iron fence.

No one likes to be the one hearing the stories. We want to be the ones telling.

And so he got started.

First, it was a standard run. Just to get a feel of the road.

Then it was time to do a few willies.

And he accelerated, and accelerated, and when it looked like he had enough room, liftoff.

The front tyre was up in the air. Then something went wrong.

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Just as he was beginning to adjust into his one tyre ride, the bike began to wobble.

He crashed. And his bike sled away, and he rolled off the ground. And rolled, and you could tell that he knew how to fall as he knew how to ride.

When you learn how to ride a bike, you also learn how to fall. Because even the best riders fall, and Derrick is one of Nigeria's finest riders.

We ran over to the crash scene. He didn't hit his head to the ground, and even if he did, the ground would have met with the protective helmet he had on.

But he wasn't wearing gloves or a jacket.  So the friction of the ground scraped off the outer layer of his skin on his left palm and  arm.

All he needed was some first aid, and regular meds, and he'd be fine. So they took him to a hospital to check.

And then, Inyang came along.

“I don't do willies and stunts. I don't care about all of that,” Inyang said.

 

Inyang is perhaps one of the most interesting people I've met since hitting the road, and perhaps, in a long time.

When he speaks, you hear him clearly. When he smiles, he smiles intently.

Inyang has rode across the entire coastline/border states of Nigeria.

“Ask him about his longest ride,” Akoji said. And I did.

“I rode from Nigeria to Austria,” he began. “It took me…” and be began to count with his fingers.

“16..24...31...32 days. It took me 32 days.”

The most difficult border is the Nigerian border, he made us understand. And that's quite a reputation. Considering he rode through 12 countries.

“So you got into Europe by ferry,” I said.

“Yes. I just ferried my bike from Morocco to Spain and then rode till I got to Austria. I crossed eight African countries and four European countries.”

Half the time, my jaws were dropped in awe and respect. This man was giving me strange ideas. Showing me new ways to make things happens. Showing me new ways to see the road.

This man was giving me ideas.

He was like and old man who had just returned from a distant country with gifts and stories. We were his children, and the friends of his children, huddled together, listening to stories of lands we've never seen. Yet.

“What's the most beautiful place you've seen in Nigeria,” I asked.

“Gembo.”

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“Many people think it's Jos that’s the most beautiful place,” he continued, “or that it is even the highest point in Nigeria. That's wrong. Gembo is.”

Gembo is in Taraba State. He showed us a photo, and if he had told us it's at the South of France, we'd have believed.

And we just knew we had it see it for ourselves too. We just had to.

I'd imagined a life like this, over and over. A life of new places, of new people. One that feels almost entirely new every single day.

In my mind, the biggest obstacle to this is the ones we love. The ones who have to stay behind with the bittersweet taste in their mouths. The ones who are happy for us that we're living life on our terms. But they are also the ones who feel lonely, the one whose hearts skip a beat every time we hit obstacles. They say “as long as you're happy,” but we know it makes them sad to know you'll be gone for so long.

So I asked about his wife. He laughed.

“I ran into her in Morocco for about 10 or 15 seconds. She's a rally car driver. She was contesting in a race at the time so I could only see her briefly.”

I wonder how it would have been if perhaps, she had to wait with her heart in her mouth every time.

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Sometimes you set out to meet one thing, and you find another. In Asaba, all we wanted was photographs of the memorial. What we got as bonus was a meeting with the Onuohi of Asaba and another with the Ogbueshi. We came looking for Derrick, and we found Inyang.

“You guys are lucky,” Akoji said. “Even we bikers hardly get to ever see him.”

This is perhaps the most beautiful thing about travel. The spontaneity. You go looking for a corn cob, and next thing you know, you're running through a corn plantation.

Read previous episodes HERE

*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

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