One man on a bike: a gruelling 19,000-mile bicycle ride from the bottom of Argentina to the top of Alaska

Next April, English teacher Simon Perry will cycle through 13 countries to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity for servicemen and women who have been wounded in Britain’s current conflicts
Click to follow
The Independent Online

If things go to plan, he expects the trip to take about a year, but, incredibly, he’ll be going it alone, without anyone to support him on the ground. “It will add to the sense of adventure!” he says. “I’ve always had an immense interest in the Americas, but I've never been there. For a long-distance bike ride, you couldn’t hope for a more logical or exciting route.

“I will cycle most days and take breaks when I am particularly keen to see something. I plan to visit orphanages and organisations in inner cities along my route and will do my best to help create links between them and organisations in the UK. By raising awareness of the orphans’ plight, I hope to make more people take an interest. I’m delighted to have an opportunity to get involved and will do anything I can to help them in their situation.

“I have set myself a target of raising £2,500, but I hope that’s a conservative estimate. I’m donating the money to Help for Heroes because my father served in the forces for 40 years and my brother recently left after 12 years, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I have followed both conflicts very closely and although I don’t agree with our involvement there, I believe our servicemen and women don’t receive enough support or good will. I came across Help for Heroes through my brother and was amazed at the good work they do and immediately wanted to help.

“To prepare for my Americas trip, I’ve become very boring and have even taken to going to the gym, which I previously despised. Preparation takes up the majority of my spare time, as I look for sponsors and try to get donations to my chosen charity. I must have written 1,000 letters and researched every inch of the Americas!”

Explaining why he decided to enter British Airways’ Great Britons competition, he says: “To raise awareness about my adventure – and the good causes I’m doing it for – to a wider public and to win a very convenient pair of flights that will help me enormously as I plan my trip. Free flights would save me so much money, money I’d be able to put to better use during my trip. I want every spare penny to go to charity, so winning these flights would mean the world to me.

“I genuinely don’t believe I’m more deserving than the others – I only want people to vote for me who believe in the same causes as me and who love the spirit of adventure.”