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James Ketchell’s World Cycle: Part III
Posted on Monday, January 27th, 2014
In June 2013 Hampshire Scouts Ambassador and adventurer James Ketchell embarked on a huge challenge: an epic 18,000 mile-long cycle ride through 20 countries, including India and Australia, to raise awareness of Scouting and funds for charity ELIFAR.
Seven months later, his amazing journey is almost over and on Saturday 1 February James will arrive back in London’s Greenwich Park. As the ultimate triathlete, he’ll be the first man to have rowed the Atlantic, climbed Everest and cycled around the world.
The weather in California was perfect. I cycled around the San Francisco Bay area and the sheer size of the Golden Gate Bridge was spectacular. From San Francisco I headed across the southern states to Arizona.
In Arizona I stayed with people I met through a website for touring cyclists and hosts:warmshowers.org. It works a bit like couch surfing. As well as saving you the cost of motels, you get to meet some fantastic people. And for me that’s what adventure is all about.
It was through warmshowers that I met a couple called Bob and Jessy who live in downtown Phoenix. I spent Thanksgiving with them and they kindly treated me to a delicious meal. On the morning of Thanksgiving, I was invited to take part in a group ride, which has been a Thanksgiving tradition in the city for over thirty years. There were about two hundred cyclists flying around the streets of Phoenix and the atmosphere was great.
I want to say ‘well done’ to all the Scouts in Australia who recently earned their Captain Ketch ambassador badge. It’s great to see the badge is going global!
I sometimes feel a bit bored when cycling, believe it or not! I’ve made up this game where I count train carriages. A lot of the roads I cycle on are parallel to railway tracks, and the Union Pacific trains which run across the whole of the United States can be enormous. The biggest one I have counted yet has been 112 carriages long!
When I was cycling in a remote part of Texas, I met a homeless guy who was essentially ‘living’ on his bike. He had a few belongings and spare tyres but he basically had very little. When I asked him if he knew where I could get some food in the area, he said he didn’t, but he offered me his bread and water. It was very humbling to realise that there are people willing to sacrifice what little they have for others.
On Christmas Day, I was in Pensacola, Florida. I’d recorded an interview for BBC World and BBC News channel and it was broadcast around the world – what a great Christmas present! I managed to cycle 70 miles that day. When I arrived at my hotel for the night, the chef cooked me a steak dinner on the house. All in all, it was a great Christmas.
After cycling about 7,000 miles across the United States, I flew to Lisbon to meet my family for my birthday. I celebrated with them on Saturday, then on Sunday got straight back on the bike for the last 2,000 miles. It’s hard to believe that the end is in sight. I’ll arrive back in Greenwich, London on Saturday 1 February, exactly seven months after I set off on 30 June.
It’s been such a mental and physical challenge, cycling 100 miles every day for nearly 200 days. In a lot of ways, it’s been harder mentally than physically. I’m pretty excited and not really sure how I’ll feel when it’s all over.
Find out more
Support James Ketchell at justgiving.com/captainketch
For more details and photos, read his full blog at: jamesketchell.net/blog/
Cycle with James from Brighton to London on Saturday 1 February, or join his welcome party in Greenwich