Ever done a sportive to raise money for charity? Sure, most of us have, I expect. If not, I’m sure you’re constantly bombarded by emails from friends and colleagues asking you for money for their cause, and it can be tricky to support them all.
Spare a thought then for Will Hodson, who set off on a 5 year long adventure this April to cycle across all 7 continents of the world (including Antarctica!), a feat never achieved before. This a journey of some 100,000 km and, in the process, he will raise money for The World Cancer Research Fund, Parkinson’s UK, World Bicycle Relief and Sustrans. And all in a Superman costume, and over 5 years!
If that makes your epic ride of the Marmotte or Etape look like a Sunday morning spin in the park with the kids, consider that Will also gave up his job as a teacher at a Primary School in London to fulfil a lifelong ambition to pedal his way around the world. He sold his car and motorbike and excess possessions to help finance the expedition which he reckons costs him around 10 to 20 Euros a day. He stays with friends when he can, claiming that it’s amazing how many of them you can make around the world if you happen to be wearing a super hero costume! Otherwise he pitches a tent or stumps up some cash for a budget hotel.
His possessions now consist of six bags containing camping equipment, food, clothes and camera equipment. And his Koga bike, of course, which he won in an online competition run by Shimano. They are also giving all the mechanical support he needs around the world! Kind of like his own bike version of the RAC breakdown recovery service. Shimano have also provided his footwear including some rather heavy looking cycling boots designed for the cold weather he’s about to encounter across inland Turkey in December and January. He swears by his Brooks saddle which he claims stops his bottom from getting sore.
So, apart from a lifelong dream to cross all 7 continents, what was it that made him give up the comforts of a regular job and home? Will explains how he was reading a book to his Year 5 class about Superheroes called Max, written by Bob Graham, that suggested we can all be superheroes at something, even if it’s just being kind and helpful. Will went the whole hog, and gave up his entire lifestyle.
“Go live your dreams!” he said on a recent radio interview, and he believes he’s doing just that on his truly epic journey as he experiences all the wonderful things in life he loves from cycling, eating, teaching (by visiting primary schools on the way) and travelling, to raising money for good causes.
Will has just completed cycling across Europe, some 10,000 km, and has now arrived in Istanbul, ready to take on the challenge of Asia. Ok, so only another 90,000 to go!
Europe has already presented challenges and wonderful experiences, many of which he writes about on his blog so check it out. You can track his progress by the day or even buy a super cycling man wristband that can be held up to a smartphone or tablet to be taken straight to his site. He also has a Youtube channel which has some entertaining and interesting snapshots of his new life.
I was particularly struck by how many friends he has made on the way. In Belgium he was invited by a passerby to stay the night only to find out later that this Good Samaritan was a famous Belgian musician (see his video below), and in Paris he found an organisation where volunteers offer up their homes to travelling cyclists who need a shower, a clean-up and even a bed for the night (Warm Showers) Right now, Will is immersing himself in Turkish culture and cuisine and has posted some videos of his favourite Turkish music of the moment.
One of his highlights so far was cycling through (and up) the Dolomites, no easy feat on a tour bike weighing in at about 45 kg with luggage, where he bumped into the Tinkoff-Saxo road racing team which offered some good photo opportunities.
Will is an inspiration to us all, and is doing a fantastic job raising £100,000 for worthy charities and promoting cycling to kids in schools on the way. Equally inspiring is the message he broadcasts in his cheery and optimistic fashion of having the courage, determination and sheer get-up-and-go to make the most of every day you have on earth and to live life as an adventure. As he says, “We all have talents, and we can all be heroes if we put our minds to it.” Well done, Will. Ride Velo is behind you all the way! You can support him too by going onto his website, donating, buying the wristbands, or offering him a bed for the night.