Recently, Theodore Brun gave a talk at the University of York to share his epic cycling journey from Hong Kong (where he had worked as a lawyer) to Norfolk, his hometown, a total distance of 17,096 kilometres. An inspirational fundraising feat and certainly enough to inspire the travel bug!
In terms his motivation, Theo revealed that firstly, he likes to mark his travels on the map. It was a big dream to pedal from China to the UK, crossing eight time zones. However, he succeeded and thought it was a worthy endeavour to raise funds for two causes: Wellspring International aiming to raise money to help under-privileged women and children, and Harry Mahon Cancer Research Trust – which works hard funding machines to diagnose cancer. Inspired by his adventure and perseverance, people expressed their support by donating money to the two charities. Donations came to £13,000. The journey lasted one year and nine days from October 2010 and was composed of five parts: China, Central Asia, Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Western Europe.
In China he cycled at first from Hong Kong to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province, moving across Hubei, Hunan and Chongqing – covering half of the cross-section of China, a distance of approximately 2,100 km. He rode from Xi’an to Kashgar in Xinjiang, covering over 2,230 km passing through the Qinghai desert, the Taklamakam Desert and frontier of Tian Shan, known as the Heavenly Mountain. He stated he appreciated the friendly Chinese people, who kindly helped him, even though he speaks little Mandarin.
Throughout the journey, he found that many people especially in rural area believe that it is possible to acquire luck by using lucky numbers, words and names and the principles of Feng Shui. In Xi’an, he was surprised at the relatively large Muslim population , which results from Xi’an being part of the network of trade routes that make up the Silk Road. In Kashgar, he found that at least 70% of population are Uighur. Therefore, Uighur language is dominant and Mandarin is the second language. When crossing Taklamakam Desert, he said he was stunned by the desert scenery at sunset, which was amazing. On the other hand, he still couldn’t help feeling lonely for he had nothing to look at except the patch of dust in front of him, and the only change was the distance meter! Worse, fear infected him with the quiet environment. Without traffic around, all he could do was to carry on moving ahead to get access to food, drink and rest.
Later he completed his cycling journey in Central Asia from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Aktau in Kazakhstan. From Caucuses he passed through the Caspian Sea and around the Black Sea into the Crimea. Crimea became the starting point in Eastern Europe journey, which ended in Vienna before his last part of journey in Western Europe.
He enjoyed a couple of days’ rest in Lake Hallstatt, Vienna, after disembarking from a boat in Sochi, Russia. The sky in Lake Hallstatt was always spotless and bright. As far as he was concerned, the quality of life there is higher than almost any other city he has been to. Although people can feel its cultural atmosphere for free, the price of commodities there is expensive.
He arrived in Munich in October 2011, conveniently during the Oktoberfest Beer Festival. There were no pubs but only tents, each of which represented a different brewery, such as Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, Augustinerbrau and Hippodrome to name just only a few. Of course, he took the opportunity to get drunk. H then rode the bike slowly around Munich and dropped into the BMW museum to be amazed at the ingenuity of the design and manufacturing.
For Theo, the cycling journey across Eurasia was not only a test for his physical strength but for his belief. It was a spiritual journey. He emphasized that he believes God gave him the power to carry on no matter how challenging. In addition, the new scenery he saw along the way, the different cultures and customs he got to know, and his new friends are all significant reasons for the long and tough cycling journey – obviously alongside the funds he raised for charity!
Check out student cycling holiday packages abroad; you can even combine Croatian island-hopping with saddle, sea and sand. If you’re looking for a journey a bit closer to home, the most popular British route will take you from coast to coast. The North York Moors National Park is a popular scenic destination not far from York – something to look forward to whilst pedalling up University Road hill to that 9am…