Thursday, April 25, 2024

The man who rode a bike around the planet

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ADVENTURE: Kiwi man Jeremy Scott completed a bike ride from London to New Zealand covering around 52,000 kilometres. Photo supplied.

“You don’t need courage to cycle around the planet. You need courage to give it a go.”

That’s the advice of 44-year-old Jeremy Scott – a Kiwi who recently completed a 52,000 kilometre unsupported bike ride from London to New Zealand.

From riding five hours through a sandstorm in the Chinese desert, to being humbled by the generosity of an Iranian farmer and jig-jagging through the traffic-saturated streets of Istanbul, he’s collected the most incredible stories along his journey, all penned in his newly-released book The Long Road From a Broken Heart.

As for the title, it wasn’t inspired by a relationship breakup.

It was inspired by his five-year-old nephew’s attempt to articulate exactly what his uncle was doing to his school friends.

“He’s too young to explain [it] to his schoolmates, so he told his friends ‘[my uncle] is riding round the world because he’s got a broken heart’… and I thought, he’s just nailed the title.”

STUNNING: ‘Molly’ having a break in front of the stunning Mt Ararat on a magic day in the far east of Turkey, close to the border with Iran. Photo supplied Jeremy Scott.

On May 20, Jeremy visited Botany Library to speak of his extraordinary adventure, starting with the moment when it all began.

At only a couple of days old, Jeremy’s mother knew something wasn’t right with her baby boy.

Doctors diagnosed his condition as a chest infection, but knowing there was more to it, his mother pushed for extra tests and doctors soon discovered he had a huge hole in his aorta valve.

Four years later, Jeremy underwent major open heart surgery at the hands of renowned cardiovascular surgeon Sir Brian Barratt-Boyes, and the successful operation allowed him to keep up with other kids for the first time in his life.

Years later, Jeremy was working for a large architectural practice in London, surrounded by incredible friends and travelling around in a backpack when he got the chance.

But for Jeremy, it simply wasn’t enough of a challenge. He wanted to test himself in ways that he hadn’t been tested before.

Inspiration struck in 2004 when he returned home to find a magazine featuring three articles about different people that had completed small cycling journeys in various parts of the world.

“It didn’t matter how many times I read these articles, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, because apart from the bike, they had nothing else in common – the culture, the food, the scenery – everything else was just completely different. At this point, I start to think to myself, those people who cycled through Europe… what if they had more time?

“And then I thought to myself, what if I had the time?”

EXTREME: In the howling winds of another sandstorm, Jeremy managed to spill water down his shirt as he attempted to fill his drink bottle in the Taklamakan Desert, Western China. Photo supplied Jeremy Scott.

On October 5, 2011, with barely any training or experience, the avid traveller set off on a fully loaded bike that would take him on a whirlwind adventure through 29 countries for the next two and a half years.

He’s now devoted his life to inspiring others.

“If I could help one person and give them the opportunity to chase their dreams the way I have, I could die tomorrow a very happy man.

“This is a story about what anyone can accomplish if you’ve got a bit of an idea and the courage to do something about it.

“When I started, I was petrified of the unknown and the enormity of this challenge I had set before myself. But it did not take long before I fell in love with this simple existence, where all I required was some food, water and some place to put my tent at night. I have never been a happier human being than when I’ve had so few possessions around me.”

More from Times Online


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