First-time adventurer Keegan Longueira has been officially confirmed as the new Guinness World Records holder for fastest cycle from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa.
The 23-year-old pedaled for a total of 59 days, eight hours and 30 minutes before reaching the end of Africa’s vertical length. That is exactly 10,526 km of African soil averaging a seemingly impossible 175 km a day.
A long-standing supporter of Operation Smile South Africa, a charity that provides free cleft palate surgery to children in low and middle income countries, Keegan has been raising money and awareness for the last 3 years cycling the 1,600km from his birth town Witbank to Cape Town.
Inspired to do something more in life, the young man decided to take on a cycle journey of an incredibly larger scale driven by the will to bring a smile to as many children as possible.
“It was a real underdog story. I was under-prepared, underfunded”, Keegan told Cape Town's KFM radio recounting his epic attempt, “It’s like a first date, but rather a date with adventure, you don’t know what to expect”.
The previous record was set by Robert Knol from the Netherlands who made the journey in 70 days 3 hr 50 min from 24 January to 4 April 2011. Keegan’s aspirations of bringing the record home to Africa were just about to be put to rest on the the first five days of the journey when a spell of injuries and infections affected his inner leg. But what he faithfully describes as miraculous healing put him back on track after a self-imposed rest day.
“The 300km the day after my rest day was tough, I have never ever gone so far and so long on a bike, gritting my teeth all day, keeping that dream in the back of my mind,” he told Witbank News.
Extreme temperatures of 43°C in Botswana and more tangible threats such as highway bandits in Northern Kenya were just a few of the other dangers and perils laying ahead of the road as the daredevil head to cross 8 countries, from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere.
Following Guinness World Records guidelines, Keegan rode unassisted on the same bicycle throughout the whole journey. Taking into careful consideration the vast length of the trip when packing, mountain ranges and deserts were cycled through and around with only the bare necessities for survival and the bicycle spares needed for the journey.
At last and riding under the banner of Operation Smile, Keegan was congratulated by family and friends as he reached the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on 2 May 2015.
“It’s a dream come true”, announced the overwhelmed cycler who put his raise funding efforts to bring kids a smile before his astonishing personal achievements.
“Really makes all the suffering I did on the road worth it”, he added.
“It’s something really amazing, watching one of these surgeries happen, a life being changed forever – what I am doing is not just about raising the money for these surgeries, but making a change in people’s lives, for the better”.
Keegan smashed the previous record held by Dutchman Robert Knol by 10 days, a stunning improvement not even closely near to Keegan’s most hopeful early calculations.
“The record stands at 71 days, if everything works out I plan to beat it in 64 days, we have planned for 68 days, just in case of delays and rerouting,” he stated before setting off on his record-breaking 59 days journey.
Despite Keegan super-human efforts, long-distance British cyclist Mark Beaumont may have a final say on the Guinness World Records for Fastest bicycle journey Cairo to Cape as he is currently on the road in an attempt to beat the South African’s mark.
A concern for Keegan? Just quite the opposite: “Mark is one of my heroes, I watched his documentaries as a kid, cycling the world and the Americas, it inspired me to go on the road and attempt these adventures,” concluded Keegan on Mark’s attempt.
Put yourself on Keegan’s pedals with this visual diary of his epic cycle journey...