01 October 2020

My epic adventure – cycling around the world

September 21, 2012

When it comes to adventure, it doesn’t get much bigger than cycling around the world and in 2009, that is exactly what Susie Wheeldon did. Along with her cycling partners, they travelled through the highest mountains, the hottest of deserts, the most drenching of rainstorms, and encountered the most wonderful of characters along the way. Along this theme, we asked Susie Wheeldon about the superlative moments that made up her most epic of trips.

Longest cycle ride before you left: Jamie – one of my cycling partners – and I took a training ride to Spain to check we wouldn’t kill each another. It was an immense journey via Biarritz, over the Pyrenees and through the dusty plains. Our end point was meeting friends at a wakeboarding lake in Cordoba. If you’re ever planning to give wakeboarding a go, I can definitely advise against getting Carpal tunnel (a wrist injury) before you start. I had no idea when my hands were gripping the rope!

Most disgusting thing you ate: Peanut butter. It’s what evil tastes like. We ran out of food one day in Texas and it was that or nothing. I had the tiniest dab on my finger before deciding to go hungry.

Best sunrise: Wow – there are so many going through my head like a film roll. If I could sneak a sunset in instead though, I’d say watching the light turn amber against the sandy outlines of the ancient city of Jiahoe, high on a plateau in the Taklamakan desert.

Most inappropriate item taken on the trip: Six inch bright red stilettos! Or Iain generally.

Most deserved beer: In Damascus. We’d been across the Sinai desert, dragged ourselves up and down the Kings Highway and been interrogated on the Syrian border. There were not many opportunities to relax with a beer in the Middle East so when we stumbled across the world’s tiniest pub it was a happy moment.

Most annoying song that you couldn’t get out of your head: For my 30th my friends had given me a fully loaded iPod for the journey. The perfect gift… if the first song hadn’t been Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’. There are only so many times…

Most distance cycled in a day: 204 miles, though that was in a 12 hour endurance race we’d entered near Miami. Fully loaded it was 160miles, the last part of which was backwards down a pitch black Chinese motorway.

Biggest smile on your face: Right now thinking back

Time you felt most in danger: Alongside giant lorries on the bridges crossing the Louisiana swamps. We weren’t meant to be there.

Biggest single life changing moment: Getting involved with SolarAid. The route was tracked using solar powered GPS and went via the deserts to highlight the potential of solar energy. We also raised money for SolarAid and I still work with the charity now. They aim to eradicate kerosene from Africa by 2020. Kerosene kills 1 million people per year through household pollution and accounts for a huge chunk of income for the most impoverished. It makes me feel that I can do something tangible to mitigate climate change and inequality.

Sophie Nicholson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

You can read more about this epic adventure on the challenge website: www.thesolarcyclediaries.com/ or you can buy her book here.

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