On the 22nd of February 2015 Gary Taylor, from Ipswich, aims to cycle around the world for Re~Cycle! He’ll be taking on this mighty challenge on his own, unsupported and adhering to the Guinness World Record rules. We caught up with Gary to find out what inspired him to take up this massive challenge on our behalf!
At what age did you get your first bike? What’s your earliest bike memory?
I remember my dad teaching me how to ride a bike in my back garden, on the bike my parents had bought me for Christmas. I think I was about seven years old, and it took a while for me to get the hang of it!
What inspired you to take on this challenge?
I love travelling, so that was a major motivational factor. Travelling by bike is really special as the pace is slower and the experience is more intimate as a result. I'd seen documentaries and read books about other people doing similar things but I always made excuses as to why I'd never be able to do one. Then one day, I found myself single, unemployed and with a few quid in savings. I realised that if there was ever going to be a good time to do it, now was as close as it would get. To be completely honest, I've never known what to do with my life and this just seemed as good a way as any to avoid letting it go completely to waste! I hope that people reading about my trip will be inspired by what I'm doing, maybe not to take on a trip like this, but just to remove themselves from their comfort zone and maybe do something different with their life.
What’s the longest distance you’ve ever cycled prior to this? How have you been preparing
The longest distance I've covered in a single journey is about 188km (116miles) and I did that during a trip around Morocco Last summer. On that trip I covered 1500km (932miles) in fifteen days of cycling, with 6 rest days. My preparation for this trip has actually been nearly non-existent in terms of fitness, despite the size of the challenge. I will be riding my bike almost every day for at least a year, getting in shape will happen as I go. Also, I fear accidents and injuries so close to my departure date, so there appears to be little to gain and a lot to lose. The real preparation has been over the last few years, since I started touring on my bike in other countries.
How did you plan your route?
I started by choosing a direction; East. Then I plotted a line through countries favouring those I haven't visited before, ones that would allow me in (Iran and Turkmenistan have both proved difficult) and ones of interest to me. My route plan is still changing, and I'm sure it will change drastically while I'm on the road. I originally hoped to ride through South America but have now chosen the south of the USA instead, I have also axed Australia due to time/money constraints. My main target is to cover 40100km in total and 29000km of those cycled, as required by the Guinness record for bicycle circumnavigation. Although I won't be breaking any records with the speed I ride at!
Run us through your equipment setup – how did you decide what to take?
Well, this was part of the long-term preparation work that I've been doing for years. I've been building up equipment, testing it, modifying it, replacing it throughout my shorter tours. Weight is an important feature when it comes to choosing equipment but so is reliability and availability of spares etc. My stove is a Trangia, for example. The reason I use this is because it runs on methylated spirits or similar alcohol based fuels, which are available the world over. Another issue is that weather conditions will vary dramatically as I move around, so clothes which layer well are useful and items that can be worn on and off the bike. My sleeping bag has a liner which goes inside it and a cover which goes over it, if I use all three layers together, it can cope with low temperatures, in hotter periods I can use the liner alone. Versatility is the key but I may just send some items home once I'm through the European winter. The bike itself, when loaded, is laid out in a fairly standard fashion, a rack either end which hold four panniers, a handlebar bag up front for valuables and my tent rolled up on the back. I travel very light so my front two panniers are nearly empty, they are going to be used simply to carry food and water. You can view a complete list of every item I carry on my website.
What’s your most essential piece of kit other than your bike?
That's tricky, I guess I wouldn't get far without my passport though! Seriously though, I think my tent will be hugely important. Because the trip is self-funded, I can't afford hotels/hostels every night. I will be camping as often as possible to save money. I also lean heavily on my dynamo hub and the USB charger that it feeds. All of my electronics can be charged by USB so I can keep all my batteries topped up while I ride, or charge them from computers/mains sockets when I stop. Handy for making sure I have music!
What part of the trip are you most looking forward to?
I think central Asia is most appealing to me. Most round the world cyclists tend to head down through India into South East Asia, but I've opted to go upwards through Kazakhstan, across Mongolia and then south through China. Simply because I find the region more interesting. Mongolia has some stunning geographical; features and people with lifestyles that interest me, so I'm really looking forward to experiencing that.
What made you decide that Re~Cycle was the charity to support?
It was important for me to find a charity that I felt was worthwhile because I feel I have the potential to raise a lot of money with what I'm doing. I started out by searching for cycling related charities and Re~Cycle was one of the first I found. I saw it was quite a local charity and the more I read he more I liked the sound of it. For me a big thing is that Re~Cycle are focused on more sustainable solutions, rather than just handouts. Some charities, despite meaning well, can in fact make the situation worse. The fact that Re~Cycle help to train people in the areas they offer help to means that people there are enabled to make profitable businesses and become less dependent. I visited their warehouse and was impressed by what I saw, the people there are really passionate about what they do and I'm proud to be raising money for them.
What’s the best way for people to keep up to date with your progress?
My website is www.GearsWeNeverUse.com, I will be posting blog entries there as often as I can. Also on my website you will find links to social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter, following me there will ensure you don't miss anything. My photos will be hosted on Flickr and I will be posting videos to Youtube, again, both of those links are on my website, on the left hand side of every page. If you like what you see, please help share my story on social media and increase our exposure!