Well it’s finally 2012, which means it’s the year of the London Olympics, the queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations, and – if the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar is to be believed – the, er, end of the world. Assuming the year doesn’t conclude in suitably apocalyptic fashion I also hope to commence my journey around South America and set a world first in the process.
So it seems appropriate to provide an update of progress so far on the expedition…
As predicted this is proving to be the hardest aspect of the expedition. From local bikeshop to multinational corporation, it would seem that the current economic climate has decimated budgets across the business spectrum. Many have pointed out that they already contribute to charitable causes or – in the case of a select few – already offer sponsorship to professional teams and athletes. The vast majority of those who have come back with a negative have still very kindly wished me success in my future endeavours; a full list can be found here.
But not all the news has been bad. I’ve had several pledges of support from several organisations, namely 4Sevens, ipadio, Schwalbe and Specialized Water Bottles. All will play their own part in getting me around South America and I really look forward to putting their products through their paces and – dare I say it – giving them some fantastic publicity at the same time!
There are a surprising number of bursaries and other competitions offering funding for adventurous expeditions, although it goes without saying that these are extremely competitive. I sadly failed to win the Berghaus Adventure Challenge but being shortlisted was still a great experience, and in the coming year I’ll be submitting applications to the Bill Wallace Grant, the GORE-TEX® Shipton/Tilman Grant, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, and the Royal Geographical Society’s Journey of a Lifetime. I’ve also recently been awarded a Peter Kirk European Travel Scholarship and although this isn’t directly connected to Cycling South America it’ll still help to spread news of the journey further afield.
So far the training schedule is running along smoothly. I’m clocking up the miles on the bicycle, the hills of West Yorkshire providing an enjoyable and picturesque backdrop to the more serious business of building up stamina. I’m also practicing my maintenance skills and am planning to undertake a course in the near future, the same applying to Spanish.
That pretty much rounds up a busy four months. The next big date is the 14th January, when I’ll be heading to The Outdoors Show in London to hand out booklets and generally tout for business; other than that, more of the same..!