Truck crash ends African road trip
Christmas day operation in Barnstaple follows terrifying Zambia crash
A CONTINENT-spanning charity motorcycle ride from Barnstaple to Cape Town has been cruelly cut short just days from completion.
Russell Johns, 33 from Bideford, should have been celebrating Christmas Day on the Okavango Delta in Botswana with the finish line for his Africa Hospice Adventure in sight.
Instead, he spent the day having surgery to repair a shattered shoulder at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.
Russell, who runs the Ultimate Adventure Centre near Bideford, set off from North Devon Hospice on November 1 and visited hospices in every African county he travelled through during an epic solo ride in aid of the charity.
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He was due to arrive in Cape Town on New Year’s Eve but on December 20, was involved with a collision with a truck in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.
He told the Gazette: “Driving south through the city en-route to Victoria Falls, I was knocked off the bike by a rogue lorry turning right without indication.
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“I went down hard in rush hour, smashing up my right shoulder.
“In Africa any road traffic incident can quickly spiral out of control so it was paramount to release the truck and dismiss the police regardless of fault.
“I was fortunate; a kind local helped repatriate the bike to his work place, assist me to hospital and help in all other aspects of being knocked off abroad.”
After being repatriated to the UK for surgery, Russell was checked into hospital on Christmas Eve and had a two-hour operation to fix his shoulder with a metal plate and eight screws on Christmas Day.
Despite his misfortune, he remains remain positive and thanked all who have supported the trip he now dubs the ‘Hospice African Misadventure’.
“It’s frustrating that I was only five driving days from Cape Town and had the two easiest countries to cross,” he said.
“You put a year of your life into planning it and when I should have been seeing the signs for Cape Town, the only signs I saw were for North Devon District Hospital.
“But on the positive side, I am now on the mend. I can’t be down about it; I’m just lucky I’m alive really. I got to see my family for Christmas and the bike is secure in Zambia.
“It could have been worse; I’d had about 15-20 near-misses but I knew the risks involved and was lucky to get wiped out in the capital city rather than a rural locality.
“I’ve done a lot of travelling but this is the best trip I’ve ever done. It was nice to have a purpose and some narrative for the trip.
“The highlight was visiting the hospices and seeing at first hand the kind of care they are able to offer patients. I was able to learn a lot about what they need.
“I also enjoyed the open road and crossing African countries trouble free, two-or-three days at a time. It was beautiful – there were a thousand photos to take.”
“The most dangerous country I visited was actually Albania.
“The dilemma now is whether I fly back over and finish the trip or sell the bike.”
Russell said he would make a decision on what to do in the New Year but hinted at his desire to get back on the bike.
“I would like to finish the trip; I did 12,000 miles, travelled through 15 countries and only had five more travelling days left and one more hospice to visit.
“I’ll make a decision in the next few weeks but am planning a formal fund-raising evening in North Devon in February. The night will feature a guest speaker from a Sudanese hospice in Khartoum.”
Russell has set himself a target to raise �25,000 for North Devon Hospice. Readers can still sponsor him by following the link at the top right of this page.