London to Sydney on a bike? Done!
24 May 2012
So who’da thunk it? How the chuff could two delusional plonkers armed with little more than life’s absolute essentials - that includes gaffa tape, zip-ties, lube and hulk y-fronts - ride push bikes across the world? (Interestingly, these four items were exactly what the Brokeback Mountaineers packed into their saddle-bags as they sauntered off into the wild, although I still think we had a lot more fun…and with less pain.)
We’ve been asked this question a number of times and quite frankly, I can’t answer it. We’ve had more near misses than Evil Kaneval and landed ourselves in more ridiculous situations than Neil Armstrong over the last 22 months. To have arrived in Sydney in one piece with nothing more than battered bottoms and a haze of stench hungry flies around infected wounds is really quite incredible! I can only put it down to some sort of divine intervention…perhaps it was a cheeky cherub with an affinity for starry-eyed hobo’s who guided us along our 37,000km leftfield path through 30 countries between London to Sydney. He must have been a naughty little bastard through, because he gave us our fair share of mischief.
Our last blog was in Darwin so a snippet from the diary of our 3,000km desert crossing reads as follows:
“Within the ‘Guts of Australia’, a highway tears through. Having conquered the beast, I suspect that tearing through the ‘Gits of Australia’ may have provided a few more stimulating encounters and subsequent blogging, but this is neither realistic for a couple of questionably smelling vaga-tramps, or appropriate for a journal of this high-brow nature.
That said, our approach to travelling through even the bleakest and inhospitable of places (of which we are acquiring a Dick Whittington-esque satchel of) has always been to keep the mind more open than Aldous Huxley’s (post acid), expect the unexpected no matter how desolate the road, and if all else fails, simply rejoice in the sheer absurdity of the decision to ride push bikes through there in the first place! Cycling 3000km along the deserted Stuart Highway from Darwin to Adelaide during mid summer proved no exception to rule.
Following a 6 week relapse from early retirement in order to rebuild a bank balance the late Whitney Houston would’ve scoffed at, we departed Darwin and its impressive ability to harvest the rarest of folk . Two notables:
1) ‘Sally Mud Crab’ (apparently she walks just like one after a keg too many)
2) ‘Army Don’ (an ex serviceman with mind-blowingly ridiculous stories from yesteryear, one involving a pub fight which he won by grabbing the fist of a chap who had just punched him in the face, and repeatedly head butting it in order to break his knuckles)
We had ventured only 130km down the track to the deceivingly named ‘Adelaide River’, when we met another addition to the Aussie Eccentric XI squad - the extraordinary Ranna.
Whilst sniffing out trees for our newly acquired hammocks, a passing car horn was blown with similar force and enthusiasm to that of a 7 year old with ADD in his first trumpet lesson, followed by her screeching words over the noisy rattle of her dated desert banger: ‘G’day fellas, you’re staying at my place!!’. ‘Game on!’ we shouted back. Once back at her place we were greeted by her absurdly sized Rhodesian Ridgeback, whose absurdly sized bollocks bellowed out “Right, you can stay at my gaff, but just so you know, I ain’t ‘appy bout it. One false move from one of you small testicled mugs, and you‘ll be the first plonkers in history to be Arabian goggled by a quadruped. Orwight? ”. He had cockney nuts. The flowing supply of Ranna’s ex-partner’s home brew beer eased the mood somewhat, and as the evening progressed she gave us the grand tour of her impressive organic vegetable patch, from which we dug, plucked and teased out a healthy portion for our dinner - sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, you name it. It was shaping up to be a ripper. Our growling tummies quietened however when she proudly announced that her lemon tree had been enormously fruitful that year, attributable to her son’s placenta which she had thrown into the compost mix when planting it 6 years prior. A devilish giggle followed when she pointed to a shrivelled looking stump next to it, adding “that’s my lime tree right there, I put my neighbour’s sons placenta in that one”. We didn’t meet her neighbours son, but I imagine him to be a dishevelled, hunchbacked, troll like creature. Once we had chomped through a delicious meal (the high quality of her sweet potatoes suggested a healthy daughter too) she insisted we eat a herb that supposedly cures even the most savage of STDs, and glug down her putrid home brew energy drink - 5 tbs salt, 5 tbs sugar, 5tbs sodium bicarbonate and water. Thank you for a wonderful evening Ranna (are you reading this?) please let me know if you require another placenta for your eagerly anticipated orange tree. I can just imagine the remark to the future missus following the emotional birth of our first child….‘errr, luv, you done with that?’.”
On 9th March 2012 we rolled into a TV studio in Sydney for a live interview on a breakfast show, marking a suitably surreal end to our crazy journey. Adapting to normality has been anything but easy. In the short space of 2 months (which included a month in New Zealand for Jamie’s brother’s wedding) we’ve found employers that will actually put us on their payroll, made friends that we actually hang out with us for longer than a just few days, and are generally settling into city life, albeit in the ‘tough’ existence of Bondi Beach. The Blazing Saddles begin another chapter…
Speaking of which, a no-holes-barred book chronically our adventure is now underway and set for completion by the end of year. We are also launching a new website with subsequent products which we hope will ultimately fund a future lifestyle that keeps us out of the office and the grins on our faces. More details to follow on these.
Finally, we want to say a huge thank you to absolutely everyone who supported us throughout our adventure. From our dear friends and supportive families through to generous Iranian ostrich farmers and hospitable Uzbek road workers. Without you this trip simply wouldn’t have been what it was. We raised a staggering £55,000 for Brain Tumour Research and the MS Society thanks to the generosity and hardwork you all put into fundraising events - club nights, comedy nights, charity balls, rugby sevens tournaments….the list goes on. This enormous pot of cash will go towards funding the fight against these awful diseases and its all thanks to you guys. We’ve had friends and family fly to meet us at various far-flung locations around the globe over the last two years, ensuring fun times were had whilst completely destroying the carbon-free nature of our bicycle trip. Words really can’t describe how wonderful the support you’ve shown us has made us feel. Thank you all.
Henry & Jamie
p.s. news on our upcoming exploits regarding the book, new website, Sydney micro-adventures and future odyseeys will be posted on our face book fan page so stay tuned folks…
I saw a woman dancing like a crab in a singapore club last week, has sally moved here?
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