One man on a bike, from Argentina to Alaska
In June, English teacher Simon Perry embarks on a 19,000-mile charity cycle ride from the bottom of Argentina to the top of Alaska
Friday 26 March 2010
Perry is doing this incredible feat to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity for servicemen and women who have been wounded in Britain’s current conflicts. If things go to plan, he expects the trip to take about a year, but 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.
"In Alaska, I seem to have a paranoia regarding bears. Elsewhere, I have the usual concerns about security and isolation. By far my biggest fear is failure, but I regard that as a motivating factor.
"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 to 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.
"Since spending time in Harare, Zimbabwe, where I worked with orphaned street children, I have always held their plight deep in my conscience. It had a profound impact on me and has most certainly shaped me as an adult.
"On this trip, 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 by the good work they do, and immediately wanted to help.
"Preparation for the trip 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 more than 1,000 letters – raising money has been a real problem.
"I've become very boring and have even taken to going to the gym, which I previously despised – I've been working hard to get my fitness to the required level. I've also read every book and website there is to read about the places I'll be passing through, and from knowing nothing about bikes, I now feel I have a good grasp of what’s required.
"My family are proud of me and have offered their full support. Most people seem to think I’m a little crazy and gasp at the thought of what I’m doing, but that motivates me endlessly."
Perry has been shortlisted for the current round of Great Britons (for which public voting is taking place now), a programme run by British Airways to celebrate The London Games. BA, the official airline partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, is looking for people who need support to develop their talent in the areas of community, sport, fashion, performing arts, innovation, and art and design. The winners get flights to BA destinations anywhere in the world, and Perry hopes to win a flight to Vancouver, from where he’ll make his way to Alaska, for the beginning of his trip and a flight home from Argentina at the end. He would also like to fly his parents out to Argentina to see him finish.
"I entered Great Britons 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," he says. "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."
Follow his adventure at simonintheamericas.com
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