Three-Wheeling Through Africa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Three-Wheeling Through Africa is an autobiographical book and a best seller written by James Calmar Wilson[1] in 1936 about the first motorcycle trip crossing the continent of Africa.[2]

James Wilson and Francis Flood were sailing around the coast of Africa as Flood was writing travel articles for his newspaper in the United States. On a lark Wilson talks Flood into traversing the continent on 5 horse-power single cylinder Triumph motorcycles. They encounter many trials along the way, often resorting to pushing the bikes where the paths were not suitable as they doggedly pursue a route through jungle and desert from Lagos, Nigeria to the Red Sea. Throughout the book Wilson refers to their adventure as the "Flood-Wilson Trans-African Motorcycle Expedition", later he was encouraged by Lowell Thomas to write a book. It includes many encounters with tribal people, poisonous snakes and officers and expatriates from England and France in African colonies and outposts.[3] It was briefly reviewed in the Montreal Gazette in 1936.[1]

Only two years prior had any motor vehicle crossed the continent, that was by automobile. Flood and Wilson chose a route that took them above Lake Chad. Flood and Wilson are noted among Long Distance Motorcycle riders

List of cities, villages and forts listed in order by Wilson in the book[edit]

Location Date Mileage Note
Lagos, Nigeria November 10 0 Atlantic Coast
Abeokuta November 18 66
Ibadan November 20 114
Ilorin November 25 220
Jebba November 31 275
Ushiba 2 nights from Jebba
Bida, Nupe-land departed on December 5 406 3 days from Jebba
Birnin Gwari
Kano 750
Zinder December 24
Goure December 25
Maine-Soroa December 31
Rig Rig North of Lake Chad
Mao, Chad
Abesher modern maps show "Abeche"
Geneina modern maps show Al Junaynah
El Fasher modern maps show Al Fashir
El Obeid
Umm Ruwaba
Sennar Dam
Massawah Red Sea, Modern day Eritrea


Wilson, James Calmar (1938) [1936]. Three-wheeling Through Africa (fifth ed.). Blue Ribbon Books. 


  1. ^ a b "'Literary Log' from the Book Room". Montreal Gazette. October 31, 1936. 
  2. ^ Radel, Cliff (January 17, 2001). "Documentary in the Making: Westwood Couple Work to Tell Story of Explorers". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 
  3. ^ Wilson, James C. (2007). "Three-wheeling Through Africa". In Jenkins, Mark. Worlds to Explore: Classic Tales of Travel and Adventure from National Geographic. National Geographic Books. p. 49–54. ISBN 978-1-4262-0044-1.