By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Mon, 21/04/2014 - 22:29

Janyis and Chris
"You don’t choose your passions – they choose you."

And it was the combination of the passion for travel and the passion for cycling that chose its unwavering adventurers, Chris Szcerba and Janyis Hyatt. Lovers of the wild and the unexplored, they have been braving paths unknown to mainstream tourists for the past years, with previous trips including the Morocco’s Atlas Mountains in 2009 and a 7,000 km tour over 12 European countries in 2010. 

With their Hase Pino tandem bike, on the 15th October of 2013 they took a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander and started a journey of a whopping 4,000 km from Spain to Gambia.

Hoping to arrive before Christmas, these 50 year-old adventurers made their way along the pilgrim route of the Via de la Plata to Seville, then on to Tarifa on the Spanish southern coast, before crossing over to Morocco and continuing along the coastline to the Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal. Fuelled by veggie meals, they passed through places like Rabat, Essaouira, Dakhla, Nouadibhou, Nouakchott, Saint-Louis and finally Banjul, capital of The Gambia. All this while competing with fierce African truck-drivers and helped by forgiving desert winds.


WYCE graduates in Gambia with their bicycles supplied by Re~Cycle

Their goal was to reach the town of Medina Salaam, a quiet place 45km away from the buzz of the Gambian capital. There they would help Re~Cycle by training mechanics to refurbish the bicycles shipped from the UK, to later be sold or given away by the local Gambian charity WYCE (Wonder Years Centre of Excellence).In this way they helped achieve the NGOs objective of providing education and healthcare for the village of Medina Salaam, while providing economical transport for people, jobs for mechanics and funding to run the NGO.

We were very impressed by the efforts of two small charities working together to create good things in Africa. We’re here to train mechanics, fix up bikes, get our hands dirty and generally enjoy the experience of a simple and friendly life in Medina Salaam

write the cyclists on their travel blog, The Spoke & Words. "And it’s worked out pretty much as planned. There’s a blue sky canopy over our days, shade under mango trees and on the ground there’s the steady motion of life within the WYCE compound."

In their collaboration with WYCE, they let the gears of creativity work towards the creation of a new type of bike – the first (known) cargo bike of The Gambia! 

The bicycle is an essential transport tool in The Gambia. Cars and vans are too expensive for the vast majority and bicycles are often adapted with wide rear racks to carry loads such as palms and water containers.

explains Chris. Using parts of incomplete bikes, they were able to improve them in strength, length, versatility and, most important of all, safety. “Cargo bikes appear to be appropriate technology in The Gambia” he concludes, stating that the WYCE bike could be used to distribute bread for the new bakery the NGO is starting.

Gambia's first cargo bike
Cargo bike number 1 towing cargo bike number 2. Chris and Janyis gave WYCE the knowledge to continue developing this technology.

Across towns, beaches, mountains and deserts, risking their lives on the roads or off them and fixing and tweaking their bike with the help of locals and fellow travellers, Chris and Janyis finished the final stage of their journey on the “smiling coast of Africa”. In the true spirit of voluntourism, they spent 7 weeks working with the staff of WYCE on a project that can enhance life in Medina Salaam and hopefully even spread to neighbouring towns.

Working on this project gave us a chance to mix our trip between travelling and some level of integration into village life. A nice contrast for us and it added texture and meaning to a great personal experience.

As they very well put it:

This was an adventure. And the bicycle was the vehicle for that adventure.

Thank you Chris and Janyis for your help! 

We look forward to seeing what’s down the road for you yet...


The Spoke & Words -

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Wed, 19/03/2014 - 14:54

Take your unwanted bike to any of 470 Halfords stores - 19-24th March

Not only will you get 10% off a BRAND NEW bike, but your old bike will go to a good cause too - going to Africa

Get yourself a new bike, help a charity and save money - pop into your local store or follow the link for more info...

Halfords Re-Cycle trade in offer

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Sat, 08/03/2014 - 12:38

One of Re~Cycle’s key beneficiaries are women, as we recognise that supporting them will help their families and communities.  And that they currently do most of the work, fetch most of the water, earn less of the money and own least of the property…

Evelyn Amoah, a woman from Ghana who says “I will use my bike to take crops to the market”. It is 5km from the farm to the town's market, which meets once a week. VBP
Evelyn Amoah says “I will use my bike to take crops to the market”. She is from Offuman, a town in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Evelyn owns a shop and also helps on the family farm. She'll use her new bike to transport crops 5km from the farm to the town's market, which meets once a week. Her daughters are also going to use the bike to get to school.
Asamoah Dorcas, a woman in Ghana who uses her bike to transport goods to market (she used to head load them, which leads to spine damage) and to take her child to school
Asamoah Dorcas uses her bike to transport goods to market (she used to head load them, which leads to spine damage) and to take her child to school.

Both women attended one of the Village Bike Project’s One-Day workshops - bikes from the same shipment as Opoku the cashew farmer.

Another example is our partner BEN Namibia, whose head mechanic trainer is a women, as are over half the staff running their 31 workshops.  

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:38

Our lovely friends at Action Bikes are running another event

Powered by up to 6 cyclists hooked up to generators, the Indoor Cycling Cinema will take place in St Philip & St James Church in Whitton on Friday 20th December.
There will be food and a licenced Bar available on site. Profits from the event are going to Re~Cycle. The charity have so far shipped over 49,636 bikes to Africa, transforming as many lives in  the process. The humble bicycle can make a massive difference when the only other option is to walk.
ELF (2003) - Doors 4.00pm / Film starts 4.30pm
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) - Doors 7.00pm / Film starts 7.30pm

Limited tickets available book now to avoid disappointment -

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Fri, 30/08/2013 - 08:48

Re~Cycle are delighted to announce we have a new drop off point in the West Midlands area which will operate until 20 October. Many thanks to Bluebox Self Storage who have kindly provided a 20 foot shipping container to store bikes for free.

Bikes can be dropped off at:

Bluebox Self, Unit 14, Station Road, Coleshill, Warwickshire, B46 1HT; between 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday; plus 10.00 to 12.30 on Saturday 21 September and 12 October only. On weekdays ask for Lee Smith.

The collections and transport of the bikes to Colchester is co-ordinated by Michael Groll.

Tel. 01675 467785


The collection point is 800m from Coleshill Parkway train station, just north of the Station Road junction with Ennersdale Close.

For more information on Bluebox Self Storage Limited visit: or phone: 01675 470900.

Many Thanks to Michael Groll and Bluebox Storage for making this drop-off point possible!

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Tue, 30/07/2013 - 09:18

20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

15 years ago today (well more or less), in July 1998, Re~Cycle shipped it's first container of bicycles to Afribike in South Africa. Since then a total of 127 full containers have been sent to 15 different countries. Thats a total of more than 47,000 bikes and hundreds of thousands of spare parts.

It is thought that each bike may be shared by up to 6 people so we have enabled more than a quarter of a million people have access to affordable transport. Alongside this hundreds of bicycle mechanics jobs have been created in Africa at the projects and workshops run by our partners and we have offered volunteer opportunities to thousands of people in the UK who have helped collect, prepare and load the containers. Lastly but not least, tens of thousands of people in the UK have donated bikes and/or money to make it happen.

That's a mighty number of people that Re~Cycle has had the privilege to have worked with or supported and we send our thanks and very best wishes to each and every one.

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Sat, 27/07/2013 - 18:07

We're here (stand 23) and have Never seen so many Brompton's!  Their world Championship tomorrow, come along.

Our home built pedal powered scalectrix is going down well, as is our Buzzer competition, and we've sold some bike chain picture frames and coat hooks.

Thanks to the four volunteers, especially Jay for building the track and Jo for the first ever 'Re~Cycle cake'.

Camping is luxurious - very well organised event  :)

We'll post photos when we have better connection...

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Wed, 24/07/2013 - 15:01

Venue = Goodwood (17 minute bike ride from Chichester station)
Re~Cycle's running a stall
This is the first time for this event, run by a Brighton friend of mine, looks like fun!
Re~Cycle is one of their charity partners
Family rides, races, workshops, food, Brompton World Championships...


By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 13:38

We have just gone through our busiest period ever and have shipped 3 containers in double quick time filled with bikes and spare parts to Africa.

On 24th June we sent a container loaded with 449 bikes to BEN Namibia. At the same time that the container was uplifted, an second empty container was dropped off that was filled with 401 bikes for Ability Bikes in Ghana and picked up 3 days later. Then on Saturday 6th July the third container was filled with 408 bikes destined for The Village Bicycle Project also in Ghana. These bikes were all donated by customers of Action Bikes in London - good guys one and all - see news story below for more information.


Having a rest this week but will be loading another very soon - watch this space.

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Mon, 08/07/2013 - 16:10

Those stars at Action Bikes have loaded another container of bikes for Africa!

408 bikes and loads of spares

You can donate bikes and parts at any of their stores

Tony writes "Closing the doors was a mission had to use a scaffold pole on the handle.... Suspect the ground is not a level as it could be!"

A large collection of donated bikes

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Fri, 05/07/2013 - 16:01

From 11th - 16th July you can take your unwanted bicycle to any Halfords bike store - for Re~Cycle.  They're giving a 10% discount voucher, if you want it.

We're 'a little excited', as this could be BIG.

Details -

Enjoy your sunny weekend :)

By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Mon, 29/04/2013 - 22:56

We've just had our last supper in Namibia, the trip has been a great sucess in both showing Halfords what we do, and in learning how to help our African Partners develop.

On Friday we visited the Singalamwe Shine Bicycle Shop which employs four people, two of whom are women.

The workshop is notable for having been closed in the past due to witchcraft! The local Headman was supposedly having sex with all of the women of the village 'in spirit form' while they were asleep.

In Oct 2012 they built a small grocery store (a mud hut with a tin roof, in the local style) which has 6 months later just covered the cost of building it. Michael is delighted that their entrepreneurial spirit is strong - the shop is employing three staff and providing a service to the local community.

Today we visited the a bike workshop based at the Family Health Service (FHS), founded in 2003, who feed and support 264 children in Windhoek – a successful project which is looking for bigger premises. Their work includes getting people birth certificates, so they can have government funded schooling and grants if they are orphans and getting people to school if they've dropped out or never attended due to work or looking after siblings.

Funds from the bikes provide food and school uniforms.

a photo of the Staff of Family Health Service workshop, Windhoek, Namibia
Staff of Family Health Service workshop, Windhoek, Namibia. The picture shows, left to right, Yacovina the workshop administrator (her boy is a trainee mechanic), Paulos the mechanic and Foibie, the manager of the whole centre.

Emma (Halfords CSR Manager) was delighted when Derek found a Halfords bike (in the picture) which we happen to have shipped in the past. We had a quite exciting chat with Michael Link, the founder of BEN Namibia, looking at helping him support a bike-reuse project in Kenya. It is run by some people part time and are looking to scale up.