Bolton businessman braces himself for ‘bonkers’ bike ride to Australia
It’s unlikely an insurance broker would be your first thought when thinking about the type of person mad enough to cycle from Manchester to Melbourne.
But a Bolton businessman who has made a career out of assessing risk is suddenly throwing caution to the wind as he prepares to bike from one end of the world to the other.
It’s fair to say that Andrew Crompton has his sights set firmly on something a bit more ‘out there’ than your average mid-life crisis.
So there’ll be no brand new sports car or luxury golf trip to Florida for the 57 year old as he contemplates post-retirement life.
Instead, he’ll be swapping the work suit for lycra and cramming as much vaseline as he can into his panniers before pushing off on a cycling trip that will take him across three continents, fourteen countries and ten time zones on a gruelling eight-months cycling safari from Manchester to Melbourne.
By the time he arrives in Melbourne he will have pushed his bike 8,500 miles around the world, and is hoping to have achieved his fundraising target of £500,000, working out at approximately £60 for every mile cycled. It’s all a very long way away from the 9 to 5 of a 37 year career in corporate insurance broking that saw him set up his own business, Watson Laurie Ltd., in 1988!
Strange food, pot-holed roads, insect bites and fourteen countries
After setting off from Bolton on 29 July, his route takes him down to London, over the channel to France and then on to Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania before arriving in Turkey by the end of September. As he crosses the Bosphorus in Istanbul he’ll leave Europe behind, embarking on a two-month ride across the plains and steppes of Turkey and Iran. At the end of November he’ll fly from Iran to India where he’ll spend seven weeks, including Christmas, cycling from Mumbai to Chennai through the vast, baked landscapes of the Deccan Plateau. From Chennai it’s a flight to Bangkok for a three-week ride in sweltering heat and humidity through the paddy fields of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. And in early February Andrew will fly to Cairns in northernmost Queensland for a two-month journey down the entire length of Australia’s eastern coast, arriving in Melbourne in early April.
Along the way he’ll have to cope with the sheer exhaustion that comes from cycling along pot-holed roads in both mercury-busting heat and the freezing cold, insect bites, some very strange food in places, long delays at check-points and the loneliness that comes from being away from home for months on end.
Long-time friend, John Mills, will drive a support vehicle along the route to support Andrew. And another friend, Marcia Rock, will be sorting out all the logistics from the UK.
“I’m determined to raise as much money as humanly possible for two fantastic charities”
There’s a serious side to the trip too, as Andrew is only too quick to point out:
“I reached a point where I wanted to adopt a much slower pace in life and focusing on this challenge is really helping me make that transition mentally whilst also keeping me physically fit”.
“I’m also determined to raise as much money as humanly possible for two fantastic charities that I’ve supported for a long time and which are close to my heart, Carers Trust and the Bolton Lads and Girls Club.”
Andrew first learned about the importance of unpaid family carers when a friend became the primary carer for his parents, making him realise how little support and recognition there is for unpaid carers, despite all the sacrifices they make to look after family members. Andrew’s company, Watson Laurie, has been supporting Carers Trust ever since.
And in 2000, Andrew was introduced to Bolton Lads and Girls Club, when he agreed to become a mentor. “I had no idea of how may deprived kids there were in my home town of Bolton and some of their stories were, and still are, quite shocking and incredibly moving.”
There’s no doubt that Andrew will have earned every penny donated via his fundraising page. He’s aiming to cycle between sixty and sixty-five miles a day, five days a week, while taking a well-earned rest two days a week!
Finally, Andrew has already ensured that all the costs he’ll incur on the trip are separately covered so every penny donated in support of Manchester to Melbourne for unpaid carers will go towards funding the work of Carers Trust and the Bolton Lads and Girls Club.
“It’s going to be a hard slog at times”, he continues. “But it’ll also be an unbelievable adventure. I’m really looking forward to visiting incredible places, meeting wonderful people and trying out some of the incredible food along the way.
“As if that isn’t motivating enough, I’ll be spurred on every wheel turn of the way by the fact that I’m raising money to benefit unpaid carers and vulnerable children , I just hope my knees hold out!”