When one thinks of a gap year, usually images of tropical beaches come to mind. It usually does not elicit the image of cycling over 10,000 km from Beijing to Tehran.
This is however what we shall attempt to do (with basic support) in aid of the small but inspirational charity, A Child Unheard (achildunheard.com, registered charity no. 1136396). We are aiming to be (unofficially) the youngest people to complete it at 19 years old. It is considered the hardest, longest, hottest and coldest cycling challenge in the world with fewer people having ever completed it than have climbed Everest.
Many people have asked why we would want to spend four months of our lives on a bike. Looking through the array of people who had completed similar trips they were underpinned by an interest in conservation, geo-political and trans-boundary issues. Despite shared interests and passions in many respects, we both have difficulty in articulating clearly our individual motives for this trip. For us, the essence of the trip is about the unknown and it is upon our return we both hope to be able to convey exactly why we went on this journey and recognise where we want to make an impact in our lives.
Over the four months we will cycle across: China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan before concluding our journey in Tehran – the capital of Iran. We will traverse deserts, steppes and mountain ranges; experiencing a range of temperatures from -10°C to 45°C and climbing from below sea level to heights in excess of 4500 metres in the Pamir mountains. It will be physically and mentally demanding, however, the difficulties we experience will be outweighed by the charitable benefits.
All of the money raised will go straight to the grass-roots work of A Child Unheard. Their philanthropic mission is to educate, heal and broaden the horizons of children in Africa who have experienced abuse or trauma. The ACU centres, established in Uganda and now Ghana, where we spent September 2015 volunteering, provide education, counseling and vocational training in a safe and secure environment. We are aiming to raise more than £25,000 to help these children and many more like them.
If you have any questions, want to follow our trip or sponsorship enquires we would love to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or visit our website beijingtotehran.com for more information. To donate go to (bit.ly/charitycheckoutdonate), 100% of all funds donated will go directly to the charity and not towards funding of the challenge.
About the Author: Charles is currently on his gap year and enjoys cycling and racket sports. He is going to read history at Saint Andrews after his trip