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The Determination of the Long Distance Cyclist

7 May 2010

London, 7 May: An intrepid 21 year old, in the middle of cycling the length of Africa solo on a seven-month journey to raise money for Malaria Consortium, has decided to continue his journey despite being involved in a horrific accident last weekend.

Adam Wolley set off on from London on 2nd January 2010, aiming to travel through 17 different countries at a rate of over 100 kilometres a day to cover the 15,000km route to Cape Town. On Saturday 1st May, whilst cycling through Kigali in Rwanda, he collided with a taxi and went head first through the rear window, severely lacerating his face and jaw.

“I stood up immediately and found that large quantities of blood were pouring and, in fact, spraying from my face,” said Adam. “I began a mental checklist of my body parts and found them all to be where I expected. I was approached by a kind expat called Lucy who gasped at the sight of me and told me to get in her car. …I hadn't realised at the time that the lower half of my face was hanging off.”

Three years ago Adam contracted malaria in Tanzania, an experience he describes as not only scary but deeply humbling. He would almost certainly have died had he not been fortunate enough to receive immediate medication. Yet he knew that many of the people around him did not did not have access to mosquito nets or medication, and that many thousands were dying from malaria in Tanzania alone. This was something he was determined to try and change.

He was half way through the expedition, having survived being savagely bitten by mosquitoes in Egypt, spent five days crossing the Nubian dessert in Sudan, and battling with the mountainous terrain of Ethiopia. After a brief rest in Kenya, he had travelled on to Uganda where he was taken to see some of Malaria Consortium’s work

At Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Adam observed Malaria Consortium funded clinical trials based on the premise that giving children diagnosed with severe malaria very large doses of intravenous fluids was helping to reduce the death rates.

“The ward where the trails were being held was crammed with exhausted looking mothers and their children. Most had made long journeys to be there… because their child was on the brink with very advanced malaria. The idea seems to be reducing death rates and yet as many as half of the children I saw will since have passed away,” said Adam.

“Whilst there, though, I did see a very happy looking little boy. Desire, two years old and from just east of Kampala had come in for his 28 day checkup. Less than a month ago little Desire … had been in multi organ system failure and hours from death when he was quickly diagnosed and given over one and a half times the recommended dose of rehydrating saline solution as well as the usual treatment. Desire responded to treatment and bounced back quickly as many do not but as Charles, another Malaria Consortium employee was to tell me the next day, the battle is to be won with insecticide treated mosquito nets to prevent infection in the first place.”

Adam was then taken into the remote heart of rural Mokono district (just west of Kampala) where Malaria Consortium has distributed some 150,000 nets covering 85% of the region’s children under the age of five and pregnant mothers (those most susceptible to infection).

“The news was good, it seemed to me that the nets had been distributed to the right people and they had understood their purpose and how to use them effectively. This was fantastic to see as we have so far raised over £8,500 which will provide over 1,700 nets to the Africans that need them most.”

Despite receiving extensive surgery on his jaw, Adam did not consider any alternative other than how he would carry on with his expedition.

"Neither giving up the trip or flying home were options but I had decided before the crash that I would take the ferry down Lake Tanganyika to avoid the western Tanzanian roads which during the rainy season become difficult for cars let alone bicycles. …The bike is in a really sorry state with both gear changes bent, both wheels out of line, a brake lever missing and the front suspension wrecked. I also need to arrange to get my stitches out at the end of the week but the ride will go on.”

Adam wants to raise money to buy as many nets as possible. It costs just £5 to buy and deliver a mosquito net which will provide essential protection for two children or a pregnant mother and Adam wants to raise at least £10,000 which will fund the purchase of 2,000 nets and provide protection for as many as 4,000 people.

Adam still has around 7500km left to cycle, with Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa yet to come.

He has raised a fantastic £8,500 so far but is determined to reach £10,000.

Please support him at

Keep up to date with Adam’s progress and the highs and lows of his extraordinary journey via his website, Twitter and Facebook pages:

For more information, please contact Diana Thomas


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