At the ADVENTURE OVERLAND & TRAVEL SHOW we’ve had 4x2s, 4x4s, 4x6s and 6x6s, but never a 3×2. Confused? Well, such a vehicle does exist, as Melanie Cowpland and daughter Sofia are about to prove. They will be joining us this year in/on their 2-wheel-drive IMZ-Ural motorbike and sidecar combination … thus it can be classified as true 3×2 vehicle. Featuring a 749cc air-cooled opposed-twin engine and shaft drive, the Ural’s origins date back to WWII, although Mel’s model is a little more modern.
Raising funds for the Adventure Autism Foundation, a charity they have set up to provide unique opportunities for children and adults with autism (Sofia was diagnosed with the condition when she was four), the challenge they have set themselves is a trip from East London (UK) to East London (South Africa).
Entitled Africa With Autism, the pair plan to start their adventure in November or December this year (depending on the situation in Egypt) and expect to take 9 months to cross Europe then Africa from north to south.
Having already gone though the process of preparing the Ural for overland travel, learning to ride and maintain a motorbike to expedition level, plus survival training for both mother and daughter, the biggest challenge still faces them – travelling on a mammoth journey like this with autism.
Taking it apart and putting it back together again – the best way to learn.
Apparently updating the solid propshaft to a hollow version is far stronger!
For Mel, a passionate advocate of raising awareness about autism, she will need all her skills as an experienced traveller, artist, author and spiritual coach to cope with the situation, but if anyone can … she can! Autistic children are incredibly gifted, so the intention is for Sofia to realise her amazing potential on this ‘journey of discovery’. What better than a backdrop of elephants, giraffes and zebras, Africa provides the ideal opportunity for Sofia to learn and grow on this adventure of a lifetime.
All funds raised will go to the Adventure Autism Foundation which will fund the trip, and which Melanie has set up to give personal growth opportunities to children and adults who have been diagnosed with autism through the provision of grants. This may include skills training for particular interests to help them find a career, or challenging experiences that will help them to discover who they really are and what they are capable of. Working locally initially, Melanie hopes that eventually grants will be available internationally.
Donations therefore are very gratefully received via the GoFundMe website. To receive your window sticker with the Africa With Autism logo, please donate now as time is ebbing away.
Well-wishers can find more information and keep up to date with the trip by clicking LIKE on the Africa With Autism Facebook page