CyclingEurope.org has just carried out its very first interview! It’s with a couple of cyclists who are planning to do something rather special and who are an inspiration to the rest of us. I’m sure you’ll hear and see their names a lot more over the next couple of years. Over to you Matt!
Who inspired you to do the trip?
We will be carrying the ashes of an inspirational friend Tony Young, who tragically passed away due to a brain tumour.
I met Tony when I started working at The King Alfred School in London. He was an IT and CDT teacher that students adored. On school trips around the world he gained the respect of students and teachers alike. He was a witty and unique individual who I got to spend 3 weeks in Senegal with shortly before his terrible diagnosis. Tony was a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, an adventurer, a builder, a fixer, a teacher, a musician, a mountain biker and a great friend to those who knew him.
Throughout the time Tony was in Hospital and during his treatment he bravely maintained his fantastic personality and dignity. Despite his condition, he came into school part time whilst undergoing regular treatment. Tony’s method of coping with such a disease was not only testament to his strength of character but also set an example to the students, staff and parents around him of what you can do if you try.
After the London 2012 Olympics Tony’s plan was to sell up and cycle from London back to New Zealand, where he grew up. My close friend Ant King and I will take the challenging adventure that Tony had intended. Tony’s family have agreed that we should take some of Tony with us. By scattering his ashes in beautiful places along the way we will gain media coverage to raise awareness for Brain Tumour UK and any generous parties that helps us on our way.
When do you set off and how long do you think it will take you?
We will leave London at the end of September 2012 and the entire trip should take between 12 – 15 months. Unlike the round the world cycle record attempts, that seem to be taking place more and more regularly, we will take a much slower approach, trying to get as many photos as possible for Tony and our friends and family. We will also be taking time to send video and photos to Brain Tumour UK who will be helping us on our way.
How have you been preparing for such a physically challenging ride?
Both Ant and I are keen cyclists so are regularly out and about on our bikes. We have previously toured Europe’s coasts for 6 weeks on our two wheeled friends whilst towing a huge trailer (called Roger), which was laden with our surfboards. We are both marathon finishers and in June 2011 I completed Ironman France which consists of a gruelling 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a full marathon. As our departure date creeps closer we will be completing practise rides along the South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.
To what extent have you been able to plan your route?
Route planning for a trip such as this is a difficult thing to do. When you look at map of the world you start to realise how many places are unsettled and unsafe. Last year , 2011, has been rife with political unrest, especially in the Middle East. On the route East from Europe you soon hit Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The state of affairs in these countries is regularly changing, causing obvious difficulties for us. Our options are to skirt North of these countries towards the mountainous country of Tajikistan, fly over from Istanbul into India or to keep our fingers crossed and try to find a safe cycle route through. The outcome of our visa application process may decide the fate of this one.
Having negotiated our route from London to India we will cycle down through Asia to Singapore. Perth to Sydney. Dunedin to Auckland. Santiago to Lima. San Francisco to Miami. Lisbon to London.
Despite listing specific cities, our route is completely flexible. Part of doing this trip is about going with the flow and what feels right. If we want turn left we will turn left, if we want to turn right we will turn right.
What do you think will be your biggest challenges en route?
One of the things Ant and I would like to do is cycle to Everest base camp, which is possible. That would be a big challenge. Apart from the steep hills I am aware that throughout the journey there will be peaks and troughs in mood, hunger, and physical pain. There is bound to be a moment when it is raining, cold, I have a puncture, my sleeping bag is wet, we are miles away from food/water, it’s getting dark and some local is trying to rip us off with local counterfeit currency. That will be difficult, but Ant and I have been in situations like that before and we’re pretty good at just getting on with it. We are simple creatures and by remembering why we are doing what we are doing we will have no problem in keeping our chin up.
What can people do to help?
As well as visiting our site and following us on twitter, we are looking for support/sponsorship in any possible form. Here’s an idea of the things we need;
Financial support (for flights / equipment / communications / accommodation / food)
Gifts in kind (flights / equipment / communications / accommodation / food) Media Exposure
Charitable Donations to Brain Tumour UK
We are more than willing to discuss the various ways to repay sponsors i.e. through the media, lectures about our trip to you and your colleagues or via our web site/blogs.
We would also like you come to the fundraising events we are planning with Bicycle Basecamp, please follow us on twitter to hear about you closest event.
If you would be interested in helping to make our expedition possible, or have any contacts, then please do get in contact, we’d love to speak to you!
How can people follow your progress once you set off?
Part of the money we need to raise is to purchase a very clever piece of equipment called a Spot Tracker (£150 for the unit and £200 for a 2 year service plan). This device will be uploading GPS data to an online map which will be displayed on our website. The spot tracker also has the ability to send SOS messages to International and local emergency services, just in case we get into any trouble along the way. We will also hopefully be able to tweet using our mobiles. So, no excuses for not dropping by for a cup of tea!