This Niortais resident took four months to return from Dakar… by bike

After four months of travel, he set foot on land in Niort on Wednesday April 24, 2024. He still had a little sand in his socks, wind in his hair, a tent canvas impregnated with a vague stench of rendering. . And, above all, a head full of memories.

Nathan Bohmert, 28 years old, worthy heir of his passionate cyclist parents, returned from Dakar by bike. 4,000 kilometers, approximately. He and his partner Lorette traveled along the whole of West Africa, favoring rural areas over urban areas to calmly travel up Senegal, pass through Mauritania, cross the Moroccan Atlas to the Gulf of Nador where they embarked for Sète (1). They parted a few kilometers later, when Lorette turned towards Nîmes and the family home, leaving Nathan to finish the road alone to Niort.

At his parents’ house in Niort, Nathan Bohmert and his bike nicknamed Billy, customized in the Senegalese style (‘fast car’ style) on which he rode back from Dakar.
© (Photo NR, Emmanuel Touron)

“A gradual and gentle return to France”

They had been living in Senegal since 2020. Nathan had joined his Lorette there, an agronomist engineer like him, hired a few months earlier in a French company. It was when he was returning home that he had this somewhat crazy idea of ​​riding a bicycle. “For the fun”, he summarizes. He had wanted a long trip for a long time, Lorette let herself be convinced by his promise to“a moment for two”of“a slow journey”of“a gradual and gentle return to France”. They bought the bike that Lorette was missing on site, and equipped their two mounts with the panniers essential for the adventure. First pedal stroke on December 20, 2023. “It was a good season. »

Nathan and Lorette often camped near small villages…
© (Photo Nathan Bohmert)

“Unforgettable encounters”

At a rate of five hours of driving per day, advancing at an average of 10 km/h which the headwinds sometimes tried to break, Nathan and Lorette crossed “extraordinary landscapes” (the bivouac generally guarantees front row seats to the marvelous dawns), but above all “unforgettable encounters”, illustrations of the generosity of those that Nathan remembers having encountered throughout their journey, like Momo, the sole owner of this café lost in the middle of the desert who offered them hospitality and a tagine cooked with him, or this butcher who let them moor their tent behind his shop, but not far enough from his slaughterhouse which stank (hence the smell retained by the canvas) or these drivers who stopped in front of them to spontaneously offer them something to drink or eat . The bottles of water made the load heavier, but the rest improved a frugal meal consisting of bread, portions of Laughing Cow, tuna and sardines in cans, fruits and vegetables bought cheaply on the side of the roads. “And tea, all the time.” »

…but also in the middle of the desert.

…but also in the middle of the desert.
© (Photo Nathan Bohmert)

“Never felt insecure”

Between the endless straight lines surrounded by the sands and the trying reliefs of the Atlas, they never set foot on land. No slack has dampened their enthusiasm. The money they had saved will only have allowed them a few nights in a hotel to recharge their batteries or two one-way tickets to cross by coach this Saharan sandstorm which would have stranded them for a week too long.

“And we never felt unsafe”also remembers Nathan who means “the kindness of people” encountered throughout. “Even when we didn’t speak the language, the contact was always simple and the generosity sincere. »

Nathan thinks he has found the recipe: “You have to know how to take the time. » The time of the bicycle.

(1) Nathan and Lorette gave up Spain to give themselves more time in Morocco, notably with his parents who joined them there.

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