U. of Minnesota prof teaches about Africa from bicycle tour

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A college professor is embarking on a 7,000-mile bicycle tour through Africa and will teach a class on local foods and agricultural practices along the way.

The University of Minnesota course offered by Paul Porter is entitled “Food and Agriculture from Cairo to Capetown at 10 miles per hour.”

Porter, a prof in the department of agronomy and plant genetics at the St. Paul campus, will use a satellite telephone to give live lectures and leave podcasts at a website. He'll also update his blog, Paul Porter's Tour d'Afrique, with descriptions of his locale, the weather, and what he and the local inhabitants are eating.

Africa

He'll be aided on the St. Paul campus by a teaching assistant and guest lecturers. In a video presentation, Porter says:

“I hope the students will learn more about Africa in general, but also about food, cultures and agro-econosystems. … From learning about Africa, the'll have a better appreciation for what we have right here in the United States.

“Maybe from hearing about different cultures in Africa, they'll take a closer look at what we eat here, how it's grown, and where it comes from.”

Tour d'Afrique

Porter is hooking up with the Tour d'Afrique bicycle tour group. The Toronto-based bicycling tour adventure company has operated a trans-Africa tour since 2003. Typically 35 to 50 cyclists participate on the ride, which passes through 10 African nations.

This year's January through May bike tour comprises 96 bicycling days (averaging 77 miles per day) and 22 rest days. Porter will join the tour in Cairo and remain with it to Capetown.


Preparation

Porter says he's been to Africa before, in the Peace Corps. He's also an experienced bicyclist from his younger years, which included a 3,000 Canadian bicycle tour as a teen-ager.

In recent years, he has focused on running marathons, although he also competes in triathlons. To prepare for this trip, he has continuing running outside and on a treadmill, as well as a stationary bicycle at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Recreation Center. He wrote at his blog:

“It has been a long time since I spent numerous days on a bike … I think I will remember how to do it. Running is one foot in front of the other, biking is simply round and round – and they say the faster the better.”

He is scheduled to set off from Cairo on Jan. 10. He'll pass through Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia on his way to Capetown, South Africa.

You can learn more about his plans at a University of Minnesota press release or 4-minute video. Check back at his blog for updates.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2009/01/05/u-of-minnesota-prof-teaches-about-africa-from-bicycle-tour/

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