‘Gates of Hell’ Bike Ride Spans 1,000 Miles With Snakes, Lions, and Quicksand

This four-part documentary covers a world first — a monthlong, bike-powered expedition across Namibia.

“Biking a thousand miles is a tough challenge at the best of times, but throw in mammoth sand dunes, ferocious headwinds, extreme isolation, and lions, and it becomes one of the toughest challenges on the planet.” That ominous pitch, teased in a press release from Outside TV, is what Dr. Kate Leeming set out to do.

And, in just 36 days, she did so and has become the first person in history to cycle the entire length of Namibia’s coastline.

kate lemming cycling across hot white desert sand on a fat bike

If when you think of Namibia, you envision rattlesnakes, mountain lions, deep sinking sands, and high desert heat, yes, that’s the place. It’s also one of the oldest deserts in the world.

And it’s nicknamed the “Gates of Hell.”

Lucky for us, her monthlong, 1,621km journey cycling through the Forbidden Lands has been fully documented in “Diamonds in the Sand.”

“See Kate endure some of the most inhospitable terrain and harshest climate on Earth,” teased the series producers. And the constant sandstorms, extreme heat, and extreme headwinds are draining, no doubt. Not to mention encounters with dangerous wildlife.

“This whole thing is a test of the mind,” Leeming commented. The hardest obstacle, in her opinion? The wind. “It’s demoralizing. You can’t control it.”

The Bike That Conquered the Skeleton Coast (and Other Gear)

kate lemming holding up her fat bike in the desert

Leeming’s previous accomplishments include becoming the first person in history to cycle across Africa (from west to east), the first woman to cycle across the new Russia unsupported, and riding 25,000 km through Australia.

Intrigued? The docuseries aired today on Outside TV. Following episodes will air in April and May, and will run throughout the year.

joff summerfield penny farthing bike
Meet the Man Who Bikes Around the World on a Penny-Farthing

Picture a 4-foot-tall front wheel, no chain, and solid rubber tires. This is a penny-farthing bicycle. We spoke with maybe the best penny-farthing rider in the world, Joff Summerfield, who's cycled more than 38,000 miles around the world on his. Read more…

Mary Murphy

Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. She has a degree in English and Journalism, and been writing professionally for over five years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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