Af­ter 18,000 miles

Their epic round-the-world tan­dem ride is ex­pected to set a world record, but de­spite the aches and pains, Ge­orge Agate and John Why­brow tell Gerry War­ren they aren’t dis­miss­ing an­other bike epic - but per­haps not so far next time

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Tandem Men Triumphant -

Af­ter 290 days and more than 18,000 miles in the sad­dle, The Tan­dem Men have rid­den back into Can­ter­bury to a hero’s wel­come.

Ge­orge Agate and John Why­brow left the city cen­tre last June and have crossed six con­ti­nents and 28 coun­tries in their epic bid to set a Guin­ness world record.

But surely no des­ti­na­tion was sweeter for the for­mer Univer­sity of Kent stu­dents than the But­ter­mar­ket on Satur­day af­ter­noon, where more than 100 ban­ner-wav­ing sup­port­ers cheered them home.

The pair ad­mit they were not even se­ri­ous cy­clists when they first started to plan the in­cred­i­ble jour­ney three years ago.

But once they had named the three char­i­ties they were go­ing to be sup­port­ing – Porch­light, Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal and Water Aid – there was no turn­ing back.

Ge­orge, 23, who rode ‘stoker’ on the rear seat, said: “We chose to ride a tan­dem be­cause Guin­ness had no record for it, but it took a lot of plan­ning.”

The pair say the chal­lenge tested their phys­i­cal en­durance and men­tal de­ter­mi­na­tion to the limit and ad­mit there were some “very tough days” in the sad­dle.

The ride took them through Europe, Asia, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the USA and South Amer­ica and back via Morocco, Spain and France.

Along the way they were chased by packs of feral dogs in Ro­ma­nia, wit­nessed a stab­bing in Bul­garia, ducked the mon­soon in In­dia, tack­led Aus­tralia’s long­est straight road in the blis­ter­ing heat – and fixed dozens of punc­tures.

Speak­ing min­utes af­ter their ar­rival in the But­ter­mar­ket, John, 25, said it was “sur­real” to be back home.

“This had been a dream for three years and it’s so grat­i­fy­ing to have fi­nally done it. I think it’s go­ing to take a few days to sink in,” he said.

“It’s been an amaz­ing way to see the world and meet peo­ple. We were not like usual back­pack­ers and, all around the world, peo­ple re­ally reached out to us trav­el­ling the way we did, even when we didn’t even share a com­mon word.

“We treated Europe as our train­ing area and by the time we got to Turkey we were pretty fit and it got eas­ier, but there were also some re­ally tough days too.”

The pair en­joyed gen­er­ous hos­pi­tal­ity from strangers, but also en­dured many ex­tremely un­com­fort­able nights in all weathers in their tiny tent, sleep­ing at the road­side.

Their cus­tom-built Or­bit tan­dem bike car­ried them and their lug­gage across some of the world’s rough­est roads, with the help of cy­cle me­chan­ics all over the globe who kept her go­ing.

“We’ve been amazed by the gen­eros­ity of the peo­ple we’ve met along the way,” said Ge­orge.

“We’ve been given food, drink and beds in their homes, which were very wel­come af­ter many nights in our tiny tent.”

But they also had many low points when their de­ter­mi­na­tion was tested to the limit.

The pair re­called spend­ing a rainy night in the trol­ley bay of a su­per­mar­ket in Aus­tria, soaked through, and be­ing wo­ken at 5am by the bak­ery staff, and strug­gling to find enough food and water in re­mote parts of Nicaragua.

“We re­ally had to dig deep that day,” said John.

“Our bike, Daisy is a bit of a relic now and will need quite a bit of work if she is ever to be rid-

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The fin­ish­ing line nine months later back in Can­ter­bury

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