Ben's 4000 Kilometer Bike Ride
I grew up in a quiet village on the East Coast of England close to a seaside town called Lowestoft. Growing up in such a remote area and with all of my school friends living in towns close by, I remember having little choice as to whether to get into cycling. Either I pedaled my way to social events or I accepted my self-imposed isolation. Fortunately, it was never a chore. Ever since I first began cycling I have never looked back.
I went on to study Politics at the University of Sheffield, and once again took my bike to the hillier climbs of South Yorkshire. Having graduated in July of 2011, I have been working as a caseworker for the Labour MP Jon Cruddas since August. I am now 21 years old and have been working with Jon for about 6 months. When offered a longer-term contract in December, I told Jon that I had already set my heart on doing a two month cycle ride across Europe in May, and fortunately he encouraged me to do so, and stated that I could return to work once I was back.
The idea of cycling to Istanbul first came to my mind towards the end of my study at Sheffield. It was a time when I felt that I should be embarking on a new adventure now that an old one was drawing to a close.
Travel has always been a passion of mine. I love the freedom which it gives to you: a designated period of time when your only task in life is to push your comfort zones, try new things, see new places, and explore! And for me, the ultimate freedom in travel is one where you are not constrained by needing to catch a bus, train or plane to get somewhere, but where your source of travel comes solely from your own effort and perseverance.
The concept of setting off on a journey with only a bike, tent, stove and a few essentials I find incredibly appealing. Although I am aware that the reality will at times feel like an eternity away from this ideal, I am still looking forward to overcoming the challenges which the journey will inevitably throw up.
I will be setting off from Harwich, Essex on the 26th of April, and fly back from Istanbul on the 22nd of June. In between those dates I will cycle a total of just over 4,000 kilometres, crossing 11 countries and 2 continents, and encountering up to 23 different languages and dialects.
I will begin in Harwich, catching the ferry across the North Sea to the Hook of Holland. From here I will cycle to Rotterdam and on to Utrecht where I will join the River Rhine. Following this I will travel south into Germany through Dusseldorf, Koln and Bonn. At the City of Mainz I will leave the River Rhine, and begin following the Main River until the town of Wertheim. Here I will catch the much smaller rivers of Tauber and Altmuhl until I eventually arrive at the Danube. This huge, snaking river will then carry me for nearly 2,000 kilometres through to the black sea, travelling through the countries of; Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania; and the cities of; Passau, Linz, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. When eventually I arrive at the Black Sea near the City of Constanta I will follow the coastline south through Varna, over the border into Turkey and finally into the city of Istanbul.
During the trip I plan to cycle for an average of approximately 100 km per day, and on the way will be camping in a tent each night, and cooking my meals on a small gas stove which I will carry with me.
Although I will be only person who is travelling for the whole distance, I will not be alone on the trip. I will be joined at various stages by friends and family who are supporting me and taking part in the adventure themselves. I will begin the journey with my parents Peter and Clare, as well as my neighbors Chris and Gwen. These will finish their part of the trip close to the City of Nuremburg, at which point I will be joined by a family friend called Phil. We will go on to cycle until Budapest, where we will meet another friend, Geoff. Geoff and I will then cycle for the rest of the journey by ourselves, for 2000 kilometres, culminating eventually in us reaching the bustling metropolis of Istanbul.
After watching TV Presenter Matt Baker from the One Show complete his epic challenge of riding a rickshaw 484 miles from Edinburgh to the BBC TV Studios in London, Matt inspired me to raise money for a fantastic charity. I’ve chosen the Osborne Partnership as the organisation I want support because of everything they stand for. The Osborne Partnership is an amazing community based charity which supports vulnerable adults from the Barking and Dagenham area. By gradually introducing their partners into the world of work, by providing accredited training, it provides the learner with skills, qualifications and the confidence to move into employment. The Charity has a proven track record of assisting adults with disabilities, and empowering them to move forward positively with their lives. Once I have completed my two months of cycling I will be able to rest and recuperate, but for those working at the Osborne Partnership the hard work continues. Please give generously to a great cause, so that these admirable individuals can carry on their great work.
Please go to www.osbornepartnership.org to sponsor me and help the Osborne Partnership build their brighter tomorrow, or call tel: 020 8592 5742 for more information, Thank you.