A cycling-mad Somerset grandfather will tackle his greatest challenge yet when he begins a 4,000-mile (6,400-km) bike trip through Asia next month taking in some of the highest passes of the Himalayas while raising money for a children’s charity in Nepal.
Drew Buck, aged 67, will ride alone through Burma (Myanmar), India and Nepal, with no support team, depending on the kindness of strangers and the contents of two panniers, including a small tent. His bike, far from being a modern, lightweight racer, is an old model one of his sons left behind in the garage. He flies out in May and plans to return in September.
“I’m no middle-aged man in Lycra,” Drew insisted as he made preparations for the four-month adventure at his Chewton Mendip home recently. “I’ll be wearing my ‘normal’ clothes. I want to get to know people and learn about my surroundings along the way.”
Drew is already a legend in the long-distance cycling world for his participation in events such as France’s gruelling Paris-Brest-Paris (750 miles/1200 kms) which he has tackled on a bike over 100 years old while wearing a beret and carrying a string of onions which earned him the nickname ‘Onion Johnny’.
His upcoming marathon starts on May 10th in the Burmese former capital Mandalay and ends in September in New Delhi, India, and includes climbs to 17,000 feet (5,000metres) in the Himalayan mountains. Drew aims to raise £10,000 in sponsorship for UK charity Child Action Nepal (CAN) which supports orphans and rescued youngsters in Kathmandu.
“I chose CAN to support because it provides a secure, family environment for children from desperately poor backgrounds who otherwise could have ended up living on the streets or abducted into child slavery,” Drew explains.
“The charity puts great emphasis on providing a good education as a means out of poverty, and they continue to support their charges through university and training, until they are employed, just like we do with our own children,” he added.
He was particularly moved by the stories of their trials last year when two earthquakes struck Nepal causing widespread loss of life and damage throughout the country. Schools and businesses closed and there were shortages of food and essentials, causing prices to rise sharply. While the aftershocks continued for weeks, the traumatised children slept in tents outside.
Drew plans to keep in touch with his own family, (wife Jan, three sons, two daughters, their partners, and two grand-daughters) and supporters via a blog which he will upload whenever he can get internet access https://drewonabike.wordpress.com. On his blog he admits to being worried over his fitness levels and what he will be eating as well as being apprehensive about missing the plane home in September.
To support Drew’s challenge with a donation click https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/drewonabike