What did you spend your gap year doing? Will and Charles are spending theirs cycling 10,000km from Beijing to Tehran to raise £25,000 for a school in Ghana. They’re also the youngest people in the world to ever attempt to cycle the Silk Road. Less people have cycled the infamous Silk Road from Beijing to Tehran than have climbed Mount Everest. This this route is considered to be the longest, hardest, hottest and coldest one in the world.
Sort of puts my 7am spin class into perspective….
Will and Charles set off on their trip this week, and they took some time to talk to me about their adventure.
Why did you decide to take on this challenge?
The charity A Child Unheard means a lot to us as it has agreed to take over the school in Ghana where we spent September 2015 at. The school is running out of funding, and if we manage to raise £25,000 we need we will secure the long term future of the school. Also, we both enjoy doing things that push ourselves both physically and psychologically. This should be the toughest challenge yet.
What has your training involved?
It has been a mixture of physical and psychological preparation. Time in the gym strength training, interval and spinning on the bikes, stretching a lot and core strengthening. As we have gotten closer to the challenge date we have increased the amount of road cycling to about six days a week. We have also done longer 100km plus rides over several days as well as 150km days. Psychologically we have also been preparing for extreme conditions, basic living conditions, food and style of life as we as extreme tiredness and fatigue. Nutritionally speaking we have been eating a lot, as we will lose weight while on the trip, but have also been taking addition protein as well as potassium, magnesium and zinc supplement for muscle soreness and amino acids for quick energy.
How did you get into cycling?
We have both enjoyed cycling from a young age, as most people do. We cycle a lot in spare time and Charles has done longer rides such London to Paris. For both of us, however, touring cycling is much newer to us as we have done predominately road cycling.
Charles – you live in Clapham. Have you done much cycling in London, and how do you find it?
Well, of course London has its challenges for cyclists but this have been improving over the years. I tend to go to Richmond park to cycle. It’s a five mile cycle there and about seven miles around the circuit, so day to day I usually go around there a couple of times. I also enjoy cycling down to Brighton and also out west along the river towards Walton on Thames. Going through Richmond, Ham, Kingston and along the river to Hampton Court and beyond is very pleasant.
Were you keen cyclists before signing up to this ride?
Yes we have always really enjoyed cycling. Training for this ride has understandably taken it to a new level though.
Tell me a bit more about the charity you’re raising money for.
The charity will will provide much more than just education but also counselling, advice, and guidance for traumatised children and vocational training in a safe and secure environment. Also it is a very small charity which puts all its money in grassroots work, so it is going straight to where it matters and to children in Ghana who we have met and have a lot of time for. We’ve self funded the trip, so every penny you donate goes straight tot eh charity.
Any tips for anyone else out there planning something similar?
We will be in a much better position to say when we are back, but for starters give yourself plenty of time to plan as it rushes up on you. Also if you are based in London I would strongly suggest using Condor Cycles
based near Chancery Lane – it’s a very professional store with staff with plenty of experience and knowledge. We are feeling ready though.
So – you’re the youngest people to ever be taking on this challenge… What’s next from here?
University for both of us. Will is off to Bath to study economic and international relations and Charles is going to Saint Andrews to read history. In an adventurous context, maybe completing the ride from Tehran back to Europe. Lots of ideas floating around but we are keen to make this one a success first.
Where can we donate and how can we follow your journey?
We’ve self funded our trip, so every penny you donate goes straight to the charity.
I’ll certainly be following Will and Charles’ adventure – and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing them a whole tonne of luck!