Sunday, August 29, 2010

Around the world in 8 years on a cycle

KATHMANDU: Most people strive for outstanding achievements in their life, but then there are also a few who have not so astounding dreams but are equally outstanding... like a dream to cycle around the world. Chris Roach is one such person who dreams of cycling around the world in eight years.

And Roach is on his way.

Since leaving his hometown of New Castle in Australia 18 months ago, Roach has already cycled across seven countries — Australia, Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and China. Nepal is the eighth stop on his map. This journey of his is a single man’s journey exploring human capabilities, cultures and landscapes all over the world.

Titled Cycle Strongman Expedition (CSX), Roach prefers to define his journey as “an epic socially and environmentally trans-migration around the globe on bicycle”.

Cycling into Kathmandu

Clad in muddy trousers and a tee-shirt with ragged back, the spectacled Roach has the look of a determined cyclist who knows how to make his dream come true. Pedalling through the Tibetan plateau, Roach is currently cycling on the roads of Kathmandu.

“It is a challenge to cycle on the roads of Kathmandu. Competing with other vehicles in the muddy and narrow roads is difficult yet full of fun,” said Roach sipping tea from a use-and-throw plastic cup. “Tea is very tasty here,” he reacted after his first sip.

Narrating his tale of green tea and noodles in China, he said, “I got to eat only green tea and noodles while in China. They tasted really very bad, but Nepal’s dal-bhat has lured me.”

Roach is staying in

Nepal for the next three months and then plans to head for Bhutan.

“The most exciting part of the expedition is the love and attention I get from people. A common thread of humanity is prevalent everywhere in this world,” shared Roach who complained, “Getting visas and acquiring permits is really difficult adding hurdles on the way of every traveller.”

Motivation to cycle

“Cycling is possibly the richest, most unique and beautiful way to travel,” said Roach, who was due to return to Australia to start a career in engineering when he met a fellow adventurer Tim Harvey while cycling from Norway to Turkey in 2004.

Harvey’s adventurous cycling stories motivated him towards cycling around the world. However, instead of travelling, he started working as an engineer when he had a major knee injury. His knee had to be reconstructed and it took three months before he could walk again and nine months before he could get back on bicycle.

“It was then I desired for a broader experience giving birth to the idea of expedition. I started telling everyone of my plans. I quit my job and started my voyage,” Roach recalled.

Now his bicycle is Roach’s all-time friend on this expedition that he expects to be of eight years’ duration. Though his bicycle looks simple, Roach informed, “It is tough, reliable, easily repaired in the field and performs under extreme conditions.”

In the bags he carries clothes for all conditions, spares, cooking gear, toiletries, sleeping bag, shoes, tent, sleeping mat, laptop, digital camera, tools, water filter, stove, food and water.

Our planet is fragile: His message

“One of the goals of this expedition is to highlight the plight of our fragile planet. The modern life of humans is destroying the natural environment. But the relationship of man and nature is most important and is in desperate need of balancing,” stated Roach, who wants to urge people to use bicycle as an environment-friendly means of commuting.

“Presenting myself as an example I hope to challenge, inspire and encourage internal debate and new ways of thinking to save the environment,” Roach said.

The expedition has teamed up with Carbon Conscious, a leading provider of ‘carbon credits’ to help the expedition become ‘carbon neutral’. Potential greenhouse gas emissions generated as a direct part of the expedition will be audited and greenhouse gas emissions offset by planting trees in the Western Australian wheat belt region.

“We must learn to change, change our habits, our lifestyles, and our relationship to the natural environment. Of course, one of the simplest ways to instigate this change is to leave the car at home and re-discover the simple pleasures of riding a bicycle! It’s good for you, good for our communities and good for the environment,” he added.

Socially responsible travel

When Roach informed people about his expedition, they were eager to help him. “But I felt uneasy to accept money from others as it was my personal journey,” recalled Roach who later planned to support Oxfam with the money collected during the expedition. Then he requested people to support Oxfam Australia who wanted to support his expedition. “It is an effort to raise $100,000 in the entire journey when I will have earned $1 for every kilometre travelled from the people who are interested to support this expedition,” he informed.

People can follow his journey on to help.

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