An Australian teacher who has spent more than two years cycling from England to Australia is hoping to raise $30,000 for cancer research – and passed through Two Wells last month on the way to his final destination of Sydney.
Twenty-eight-year-old Chris Gruar, from Camden, Sydney, left Leeds – a city in the North East of England – in March 2012, to embark on his very first cycling challenge to raise money for The Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) in memory of his mother who died of breast cancer.
Since his departure he has travelled 37,000 kilometres across more than 40 countries including Germany, Norway, Croatia Kazakhstan, Kosovo Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Vietnam and when he rolled into Two Wells on Tuesday April 15 his trusty bike’s odometer marked an impressive 40,471 kilometres.
Chris landed back on Australian soil at the end of February after flying into Darwin. The final leg of his cycling tour will cover a 3000km ride through the centre of the desert to Adelaide and then on to Melbourne and Canberra.
Chris is scheduled to arrive in Sydney in late May with Sydney University Campus – where he studied – as his official finish line, and while in town, stayed with locals Anne and David Stoddart.
“I’ve been really impressed with the scenery around the Adelaide Plains,” he said. “The subtle changes in the landscape, the rolling hills, kangaroos and wheat fields, it’s been beautiful.”
Chris says he covers around 100km a day in Australia due to its flat typography, and has averaged around 70km per day across the globe in his two-year trek.
“You only live once, so I set out to see what one man on a bicycle can accomplish,” he said.
“As an Australian history teacher, it was important for me to experience both the diverse cultures of the world and visit the historical sites of Europe and Asia. I chose to raise money for AICR as they fund groundbreaking research throughout the world.
“Cancer is an international concern, and it requires a global response.
“As a citizen of both Britain and Australia, I wanted to promote a charity that is active in both of these countries (and) I’m relishing the opportunity to return to Australia and spread the word about the crucial projects being funded by AICR.”
AICR has a long history of funding scientists in Australia and is currently funding 16 grants in key Australian institutions.
When asked about the highs and the lows of his epic adventure Chris said there were many challenges, some amazing scenes and hundreds of people across the world who invited him into their homes.
“It’s a challenge to reduce two years into a high and a low but certainly reaching the Arctic Circle to camp in the wilderness with reindeer was amazing,” he said. “Conquering the mountain ranges, traversing the vast desert expanses of Central Asia and pedaling along the fabled Silk Road of Central Asia are also up there.
“My biggest surprise has been the friendliness of people throughout the world, particularly in lands labelled as dangerous by media.
“I was also surprised at how I could adapt myself to various landscapes, from camping on the snow in -20 degrees, spending entire days cycling up mountain passes, or surviving the vast stretches of desert.
“In terms of lows, I think surviving an attack in the Caucasus and being plagued by a ligament injury along the way were my least favourite bits.”
Chris still is hoping to raise more money for the cause that is so close to his heart and for which he has personally committed so much. When he dropped into Two Wells last month, he had already raised an impressive $23,000.
• TO donate, go to justgiving.com/cycling4cancer read more about his at www.cycling4cancer.com.