It’s a charity close to our hearts, but even we aren’t prepared to risk erectile dysfunction and a flat tyre in the middle of Kazakhstan for it. Instead, we’re throwing money in the direction of Andrew Robinson, as he sets off on a mammoth 40,000 km bike ride for brain cancer research.
This Sunday, Andrew will leave the car park of the Walton Centre (the only specialist neurosciences NHS Trust in the UK) as he starts his 16 month trek from here to Hull. Well, that’s the first bit. From then on it gets trickier – as he cycles across northern Europe, north through Scandinavia to the Arctic Circle, doubling back to head to Russia, then on through the safest of the Stans, Kazakh, before heading down to Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australia.
En route, he’ll be making a documentary of his travels. Which should be fun as, en route, he’ll cycle through the habitats of five types of bear, Indian lions, elephants, tigers, nine out of the top 10 deadliest snakes, boars, wolves, snow leopards, Indian Rhinoceros, crocodiles and buffalo. And possibly Yeti.
“Whilst I’m doing it, the route is bound to be altered a few more times. There will doubtless be a few tweaks regarding dodgy border crossings, floods, political unrest or storms, fires in the outback, that kind of thing,” he says, from his Bidston home.
“It started off as an idea – ‘let’s cycle from here to somewhere to raise money for brain tumour research. Then it sort of grew…Looking at Everest is a pretty special thing to see. I thought, ‘I wonder what it’s like to cycle along the spine of the world in the Himalayas, what’s it like to breathe the thin air up there? The Taj Mahal is only just there and, oh, is that a desert? Doesn’t look like more than 400 miles south, well if I’m already kind of in that area of the world…you get the idea?’
Sort of. What we definitely get is the need for ultra endurance tests like these to shock us all into discovering some uncomfortable truths.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and five-year survival remains low at just 19.8%, yet they receive just 1% of all cancer funding in the UK.
More children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer, and it was the death of Andrew’s uncle, Mark, that first fired up his desire to do something to help.
“Mark received superb care from the Walton Centre, but the fact is, these cancers can and – sadly – do present real challenges for specialists, and more money is needed if they’re ever to stand a chance of beating them,” he says.
For the next year and a half, Andrew will be wheeling his way to Sydney – to be met by his brother, who lives there. En route, he’ll have to endure some of the world’s toughest terrains – and physical endurance the likes of which it’s hard to prepare for.
“I’ve been training on Bidston Hill. It’s hardly the Himalayas!” he laughs.
“Due to the route, I think I’m coming into contact with pretty much every type of weather imaginable. From the bitter cold (and those bears) of Scandinavia, to the altitudes and passes of Nepal, the steppes of Kazakhstan to the searing heat of the Australian outback, it’ll be as tough a challenge as any cycle ride could be,” he says, “But I saw, first hand, the fight my uncle gave, for five years, with brain tumours, and this is nothing compared to that.”
Andrew is hoping his super-human effort will result in support from those who want to do their bit to help The Brain Tumour Charity fund vital research into this most pernicious of cancers.
“If anyone wants to keep up with the trip you can go to www.andyonabike, there are links on there for a separate Facebook page that people can like, and I’ll be updating my travel blog as regularly as I can.
“Anyone who would like to donate can do so here, too. And I’d like to thank everyone in advance for their support. It will really help fuel me on my way, which, as I’ll be using upwards of 9000 calories a day, will be really crucial to my success.”
Please, if you can, throw a few quid his way. It’ll help those miles fly by.
For more information on The Brain Tumour Charity, visit: