PRESS Release q&A
Craig casts more light on why he started his journey, his experiences so far, why he decided to work with his chosen charities and how he's dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic while under lockdown in Argentina.
CRAIG'S THOUGHTS ON HIS JOURNEY SO FAR
Why did you decide to do the trip?
"I decided to do this trip because I wanted to see the world in a more personal and unique way, but also to add an element of challenge; where I could test my boundaries, perceptions of the world and physical limitations. Travelling by bicycle not only offers the physical challenge of riding a bike every day, over extremely long distances, but also provides you with so much more freedom to travel than other methods. I get to choose where I go, when, and how quickly."
How do you feel about your journey so far?
"I'm enormously proud of my achievement so far. I’ve never done anything as significant as this before and I had no idea when I left the UK over a year ago that I'd make it to Dover, let alone Cape Town, or beyond. However, even though I've faced challenges, tough days or weeks, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and I don't think I've reached my limits just yet. That’s why I've decided to continue my journey to cycle the Americas from Patagonia to Alaska.
I'm also extremely motivated to continue raising money for my two chosen charities, who this is in aid of. I realise what an incredible privilege it is to be able to do a trip like this, so I decided to make my journey more meaningful and give something back. I had also witnessed first-hand how powerful bikes can be, so I wanted to encourage others to embrace the humble bicycle and work with charities that had the same beliefs I did.
I strongly believe travelling by bicycle is a concept that anyone can do. I'm certainly no athlete. All that is required is a lot of motivation to leave in the first place, determination not to give up when it gets tough and be open to new experiences daily.
Travelling by bike and spending time in nature allows you to focus on the things that are important. I live on the road, moving forward towards my goal daily. All I need to think about is where I get my water and food for the day, and where I'm going to sleep that night. Mostly, this is camping in the wild, police stations, schools or with anyone who offers to take me in.
The world is not as much of a scary place as we're led to believe. So far, I've experienced more kindness, generosity and hospitality from people who have very little and live in countries others believe to be dangerous. This couldn't be further from the truth."
What have you found difficult about the trip?
"I haven't found it as difficult as I expected. It took a few weeks to get used to travelling alone and sleeping outdoors all the time, and I have occasionally felt anxious when crossing borders into new countries, but there's not yet been one point where I felt defeated or wanted to give up and go home.
That's not to say I haven't experienced extremely tough days and challenges. I've had plenty. It's how you manage it that will ultimately decide if you'll get through it or not. I've learnt that my tolerance and patience in certain situations is much higher than I ever expected. You also need to learn very quickly how to adapt to people from different cultures; appreciating and respecting how they live their lives. You’ll find how easily you can relate to one another. When travelling by bike you're extremely vulnerable and accessible to the local population, but this is also one of the best things about this form of travel. People are intrigued by what I'm doing, they’re welcoming and usually want to help.
It's been a unique and amazing experience and I've changed and challenged my perceptions of the world. I encourage anyone thinking of doing something similar to take that first step and go for it."
How are you dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?
"This has been such an unexpected obstacle and I don’t think many people were expecting it to reach the point we’re now at. Like many other travellers, I was blissfully continuing my journey through South America, only thinking about the road ahead and where to head to next. Despite the situation escalating back home in Europe, I still didn’t believe I would be affected being in the remote parts of Patagonia. However, this changed rapidly and suddenly other travellers were quickly trying to organise ways to get home.
Since the beginning, I knew I was going to be staying here, unless the Argentinian government forced me to leave. Now, after nearly 2 months of lockdown, I’m still here waiting for the time when I can continue my journey by bike. This has been an extremely frustrating situation to deal with, especially for someone who has become so used to living outside and moving every day. It’s also an extra financial burden I was obviously not prepared for.
Despite this, I completely understand why the government here has taken the exceptional measures they have. Argentina has gone to extreme efforts to stop the spread of the virus. You only have to look at the numbers here - compared to surrounding countries and in other parts of the world - to see that it’s working. With a crippled economy and being on the edge of its ninth default in its history, Argentina is putting lives ahead of rushing people back to work to help save its economy.
Daily life is starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day, however, I’m hopeful to be able to move on my bike again within Argentina soon. If the neighbouring borders remain closed, then I’ll try to find volunteer work until I’m able to move more freely and continue my journey.
I’m loving what I’m doing right now and what I’m discovering about myself on this trip, so I’m determined to wait this out rather than return home.
For now, I’m able to catch up on editing the photos from my journey so far, and update my website and social media accounts. With the charity sector taking a huge hit in fundraising, I’m also keen to keep up my efforts to raise money and awareness for Re-Cycle & Cyclists Fighting Cancer. Cancer and extreme poverty isn’t going to stop because of this virus, so those in need still require help, now more than ever."