On July 2nd Ed Shoote got on his bike and cycled eastwards away from Suffolk, England into the distant horizon. This journey he just started was far beyond anything ordinary: Ed was cycling to China.
Ed is one of the many Doers running a campaign on The DoNation. We asked him a few questions to better understand the man behind the journey and what peddles him onward.
What inspired you to take upon this mammoth challenge?
I have been keen to see the Himalayas and central Asia for years. I could have booked a flight and just explored them. However it felt like cheating and I feel so guilty as I really fly too much. It challenged me to find a way to see places but not harm the environment in doing so. It therefore made sense to just cycle there.
I figured that by getting the right lightweight and fast bike I could do it quite quickly too. The Kinesis bike I am riding has been perfect for doing that. The other factor was that I love photography and what better way to take great pictures than cycle into some stunning places?
How did your friends and family respond when you said you were doing this challenge?
I guess they are getting used to it. I just felt the need to do one truly epic bike ride and hopefully everyone understands that.
There are so many causes and charities out there that you can support. What made you choose The DoNation?
I originally wanted to create a green pledge section on my blog to get people to make changes to their lifestyle after (hopefully!) they were inspired by my trip. A friend then showed me The DoNation and it was perfect for what I wanted to do.
It is a great idea as money just can’t buy our way out of climate change it needs action and The DoNation shows that perfectly. I also hope that by using my bike to visit so many cool sites I can show that flying and polluting so much to get to places is such a devaluing experience.
What do you hope to experience and learn from this trip a normal fuel guzzling tourist would not?
The beauty of cycle touring is the contact with the environment around you. Smiling at locals or being waved down for a cup of tea just doesn’t happen in a car. People always want to stop for a chat when you’re on a bike too and we learn so much from people.
Seeing wild fruit like cherries, apples, plums and figs and stopping in the sun to eat is another part of cycling through Europe. The smells of the world around us can be often over looked but riding past verges of herbs, fields of flowers or even smelly pigs all add a dimension to the trip.
I also love being able to cycle straight into city centres and explore the sites, no finding the train station, no airport waiting and no parking issues either. It’s by far the easiest method of exploring urban areas.
Is there anything you miss from home?!
I have lived overseas for 3 years now so I miss a number of things, mostly hanging out with friends and family. I miss good French bread and cheese from Chamonix too.
What’s your favourite way of passing time when you’re not on your bike?
Sleeping, eating and taking photos! That’s pretty much everything! I have also really enjoyed exploring various historic sites and taking the time to learn about the history of all the countries and cities we visit.
Can you give one memorable experience you’ve gained from the trip so far?
The highlight has been cycling across Romania. It is a fascinating country. The highlights were the traditional wooden villages that have stood still for centuries with horse and carts collecting the hay for each villager’s own cow or goat.
We also rode the Transfagarasan highway – a huge mountain pass in central Romania. The scenery and riding experience lived up to my high expectations of this famous road. Although our few days in Turkey so far have been simply amazing.
One poignant memory was also a Nigerian chap in Prague dressed as a sailor who I chatted to while he unenthusiastically tried selling boat trips. I told him I was cycling to China and I said “you think I’m crazy don’t you?” He replied “you’re normal the rest of us are crazy for not trying”.
To learn more about Ed’s journey and to make a pledge, go here. And to get updates on what he’s up to, go to his blog or add him on twitter @1loveMountains.