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
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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