‘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 Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.

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