The Ride to COP27: a record-breaking attempt at the longest journey on an electric motorcycle

Egypt’s Ali Abdo Ali, a motorcycle maverick who is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager by day, believes that ‘Individuals are the core of any change’



By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 8:22 PM

Climate Change has been a hot topic for the last few decades. Automotive companies are now going all-electric, fashion brands are pushing lines with ethically sourced raw materials, hardcore fast-food joints are churning out plant-based menus and billionaires are turning altruistic, all for the sake of fighting the phenomena. But corporates aside, the common man seems to be far removed from the scenes of sustainability.

That being said, there are a few amongst us like Egypt’s Ali Abdo Ali, a motorcycle maverick who is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager by day, believes that ‘Individuals are the core of any change’ and that great things can be achieved by getting regular folk involved in small and frequent actions. He leads by example when he attempts the longest ride on an electric motorcycle ever in something called ‘The Ride to COP27’.

What is ‘The Ride to COP27’?

COP27 is the 27th annual convention organised by the UN Climate Change Conference. It facilitates global climate talks and plans, turns these nouns into verbs by putting them into action; and provides opportunities to examine the impacts of Climate Change and propose innovations and solutions in the African continent. This year, Egypt, Ali’s home nation plays host from November 6-18, 2022.

‘The Ride to COP27’ which is sponsored by Egypt’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Youth and Sports, has been arranged in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Earth’s Climate for sustainable developments foundation. It is Ali’s attempt at the longest electric motorbike ride ever, which kicks off at the Abu Simbel Temple located in the southern city of Aswan, and ends further north at Sharm El Sheikh, located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, which serves as the venue for COP27. The ride is expected to take between 30 to 45 days, and he is expected to cover an incredible 20,000 km or more. He will also be hitting several stopovers along the route to recharge his mind, body, and motorcycle and to hold discussions with the residents about the impact of Climate Change on their locale and the kind of actions they are taking to tackle it.

Record-breaking resume

As daunting a feat as this may seem, you should know that Ali is no stranger to the record books. He has three world records to his name, all ratified by the Guinness Book of World records. On January 14 , 2016, after riding a total of 5,864 km (3645 miles) he completed the ‘Longest journey on a motorcycle across one country in seven days’. Just a little over a year later, he broke the record for ‘The greatest distance on a motocross bike in 24 hours by an individual’, which currently stands at 613.59 km (381.27 miles), which he accomplished in El Gouna, Egypt, on June 29-30, 2017. And his third record was etched into the record books on September 17, 2021 in New Alamain, Egypt when he set ‘The greatest distance on an electric motorcycle in 24 hours (individual)’, after covering a total distance of 919.87 km (571.5 miles).

But his story is even more fascinating simply because, unlike the legends of other leagues, like Michael Schumacher who started karting at the tender age of four, Ali only began riding in 2013. His first motorcycle was a used 1993 Yamaha XTZ 660 Tenere. The less-than-mint-condition of the vehicle meant that he had to learn how to fix it himself. But he liked the bike so much that he ended up keeping it for almost four years.

The ride & eco’ stats

For ‘The Ride to COP27’ venture, he has a different weapon of choice, a 2019 Energica EsseEsse9. It is an electric motorcycle powered by a 13.4 kWh battery that can produce a max torque output of 180 Nm of twist at the crank, which helps it propel from rest to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds. And with a claimed range of 200 km, he says he will be able to ride for two to three hours continuously, averaging about 70 to 90 km/h, before having to charge its battery.

But one must be thinking about how does an electric motorcycle stack up to a traditional petrol engine 2-wheeler? For comparison’s sake, let’s consider an adventure or street bike with a relatively efficient 500cc engine. Such an example would return around 25 km/l and produce about 80 grams of CO2/km. At the end of a 20,000 km ride, it would have consumed about 800 litres of petrol and produced about 1,600,000 grams of carbon dioxide in total. In comparison, an electric bike like Ali’s Energica EsseEsse9 produces zero emissions at the tail pipe. While it will be recharged at outlets that draw electricity from thermal sources, Egypt also has hydroelectric power plants and other renewable sources, such as wind and solar, which contribute to the power grid, upping the sustainability factor.

The prep

Ali states that for record-breaking purposes, he is not allowed to make modifications to the motorcycle, but a windshield and other accessories will be installed to improve riding comfort over the thousands of kilometres he is to travel. He will also have real-time roadside assistance in the form of a 3-member team who will be closely following him in a van with tyres, tools, and other spare parts. He is also ready to take on all sorts of weather and traffic conditions. Even the ask from a physical and psychological point of view is of a tall order. But Ali is a man of preparation. Being an avid motorcycle enthusiast, he rides several kilometers daily to keep in top mental and physical shape. The attempt will also involve several nights of desert camping, which he is quite used to and is something he often does with his wife and kids.

Future fantastic

The 37-year-old father of two says the fight against Climate Change doesn’t end with ‘The Ride to COP27’ and has other lofty ambitions to accomplish. On reaching his destination i.e., Sharm El Sheikh, he plans to present the COP27’s delegates with the information and solutions collected from many discussions he would have had at the stopovers. He also plans to ride from Cape Town, South Africa to the UAE, just in time for COP28, next year.

While feats like ‘The Ride to COP27’ may seem beyond belief for us commoners, it serves as a parable to help us see the bigger picture, a picture that involves the slow death of planet earth due to exaggerated consumerism and other evils, if not intervened by conscious living. Like Ali who emphasises the importance of the individual, we too would like to remind each one of you out there that ‘If you think you are too small to make a change, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito’. And if enough of us do the little things like taking public transport, being part of the slow fashion movement, and eating less meat, we regain our right to live on this planet.

If you are intrigued by Ali’s feats and ‘The Ride to COP27’ you can keep track of his adventures on his FB page (www.facebook.com/Ali.Abdo.Adventurer) which he plans to update with pictures from each of his stopovers. We will also be able to track his live location using ‘the Find Me spot tracking’ for which he will be using a SPOT trace satellite tracking device. If you prefer traditional media, many a TV station will also be live streaming his journey.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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