The story so far...
It started, like the best schemes, with alcohol. Half a decade ago in a London pub I put together a plan to cycle across six continents. It all seemed so easy with my mini-atlas and drunken bravado. In January 2010 I waved goodbye to my family and friends from outside the London hospital where I worked as a doctor, and set off on my bicycle - and I have been pedaling ever since.
So far I have cycled through 42 countries and have racked up 54,339 km (33,765 miles) by bicycle - a distance equivalent to more than once around the world or 13 times across the USA, back to back. In my bid to cycle across six continents I have managed four - Europe, Africa (via the Middle East), Latin America and North America. I have two more to go - Australia and Asia. And I need your help.
Blue line - mission completed, Red line - the journey to come
What I Need
After 3½ years of cycling around the world I am completely out of funds. To finish my journey and cycle back to the UK from Australia I need just £6000 (around 9350 USD) which I hope to raise in two stages.
Stage One - This campaign was launched on the 17th of September and will run for two months. I hope to raise at least £3000 to fund the next year of my journey.
Stage Two - will begin in one year's time and I will try to raise the rest of the money I need to get home by bicycle.
I have exhausted every other option and crowd-funding is my last resort. If I can't raise the cash there will be a depressing, anticlimactic end to my epic bike ride with a fetus-shaped shell of a human being gently weeping in the arrivals terminal of a British airport. YOU can help stop that from happening, and much more besides.
Isn't this just funding some guy's holiday / 'lifestyle'?
The answer is yes, of course it is, but the money will have a much wider impact than that. Here are some stellar projects and tempting offers that I hope together make a strong case to donate...
Great perks - In exchange for your donations you'll get a gift from me. Many are valued at around the same amount you are donating, so think of it as a purchase with the beautiful spin off of helping someone cycle around the planet. Not one penny that you donate goes into funding these perks, the expenses have been covered by generous companies or by myself. Check out the perks on the right sidebar, and the images at the bottom.
Raising awareness of tropical disease - As a medical doctor with an interest in tropical medicine I visit remote medical clinics as I travel to gain an understanding about the fight to combat a group of infections called the Neglected Tropical Diseases which overwhelmingly affect poor people - those with little political voice. I have raised over 20,000 pounds for the medical NGO Merlin and have raised awareness of the Neglected Tropical Diseases through public speaking and freelance writing. Help me continue to do so. When I return to the UK I will continue my medical career and the experience of visiting clinics across Asia will be invaluable.
Education - I have given multimedia presentations about my world bike ride in dozens of schools in countries around the world. I tell the story of my journey: of the self-doubt, the adventure, the hospitality along the way, the close calls and challenges, the effort spent and enterprise needed to overcome them. I stress the importance of travel, the power of setting big goals and how the media can influence our perceptions of the world. If my journey continues, so do these talks - in schools across Australia, Europe and Asia. Help me spread this positive message to children as I travel.
Riding Off-Route - Over the last year and a half I have been documenting in detail the more adventurous routes I have traveled by bike - the lonely roads through wild places that take some extra effort but that I reckon are are worth the toil. I am developing a blog, Riding Off-Route, which covers just the practical details of these routes along with some general touring advice, and which will be launched in the coming months. If I can fund the Asian leg of my trip then more routes will be added to what I hope proves a useful resource for cycle tourists all over the world.
The Experiment - Before I set off I had a host of medical tests to study the affect of a six year bike ride around the planet - from MRI scans and biopsies of my quads to tests on my diaphragm and lungs. If I get funding and return by bike in late 2015 then I will repeat the tests to help determine how I changed physically during the ride. I hope to use the results to help promote cycling as a healthy form of tourism.
The Blog - Every few weeks I post on my blog which has racked up almost 200,000 hits since I started riding. Have a read - if it floats your boat then help me continue riding and writing, and live vicariously through my posts. There are tales of guns being held to my head, of getting a bit scared, of getting a bit cold, riding naked with 10,000 people, of run ins with wild animals and of simply basking in the oddness of my life on a bicycle.
The Film - For the last year I have been filming for a fully funded TV series called Exploration Challenge which I hope to continue shooting footage for if I can fund the return leg. I will also make a separate documentary about cycling across Asia.
The Book - It's some time off, and it will happen whether or not I ride the last two continents - but let's face it, it will be even better if I do.
- A warm glow of contentment as I cycle back into London after six years of pedaling across six continents - because you helped that happen.
What happens to your money?
The money goes to funding my journey and living expenses for the first year of a two year journey from Australia to the UK by bicycle, beginning in September of 2013. Rest assured: I live a frugal life on a dirtbag budget and I don't need much to survive. I eat lots of noodles, I camp by the road, I wash in lakes and my threadbare clothes make it seem like I've been ravaged by a wild animal. 'Splashing out' for me might involve buying some cheese.
The money you donate will go predominantly on food to fuel my legs as I ride - this has been my main expense on my journey so far. I also need some cash to repair my bike and get new parts - specifically rims, a shifter and a front hub. I will use some of the money for accommodation - though I have slept for free for at least 7 out of every 10 nights for the last 3½ years and I plan to continue to do so.
Breaking it down
The first £3000 (about 4700 USD) I hope to raise will be spent on my one year ride from Australia through Indonesia, SE Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The second £3000 will cover the second year - through China, the 'stans of western Asia and Europe.
Any extra money I raise on this first stage of fundraising will go directly to the second. If I can raise the full £6000 during the first campaign then even better - there will be no need for the second stage of fundraising planned for a year's time.
- If I have any donated money left by the time I get back to the UK it will be given to an NGO involved in the fight against the Neglected Tropical Diseases.
- After the 4% this website takes and the new bike parts, this campaign, if successful, will leave me with £6.50 per day (or about 10 USD). In Australia and Europe this will be roughly what I will aim to live on, but in most of Asia this is much more than I need. However there are a host of other expenses I need to cover such as VISAs, equipment repair or replacement, medical costs and the like... so £6000 over two years is my best estimate.
- For full transparency I will record and document my outgoings on my blog.
Not one penny of the money you donate will be spent on premium caviar, roulette, gold chains, massages, stylish cravats, hot air balloon rides, cocaine binges or gourmet food of any kind. Think of it as a noodle-fund.
Other Ways You Can Help
Maybe you're more broke than I am. Maybe the bailiffs are coming round tomorrow to take away Ralph, your pet goldfish, your only friend and possession. Maybe you have donated and want to do more. If so then make some noise about this campaign - share this page on facebook or other social media and help me get the word out. You can use the Indiegogo share tools beneath the video up top.
Let's do it
I want to finish what I started. I hope that three and a half years of pedaling shows I have the determination, the cojones and the recklessness required to follow through on what was an insane, half-baked plan, devised whilst drunk.
It's already been a long road - despite knee surgery, epic blizzards, volcanic eruptions, armed bandits, lions outside my tent and a spell of all-consuming loneliness during which I tried to begin a conversation with an inner tube, I am still pedaling. Running out of money just seems the worst reason of all to quit. Help me ride back into London in late 2015 having fulfilled a personal dream, having racked up more miles through six continents than two laps of the planet and having left some positive ripples in my wake. This isn't charity, it's an investment - in me, in my dream and in all the projects that stem from my journey. Anything you can pledge to help keep me on the road and homeward-bound is massively appreciated. Thank you.
Please email me - cyclingthe6(at)gmail.com - if you have any questions, comments or if you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.
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