A London couple who got married last year are taking an extended honeymoon with a difference – they’re spending two years cycling back home from New Zealand with the aim of setting a new record for the longest ever tandem ride.
Kat Turner, aged 31, and husband Steve, 33, are currently pedalling their way through Malaysia in their attempt to beat the existing record of 38,143 kilometres, set between 1994 and 1997 by British couple Louise and Phil Shambrook, who are now based in New Zealand.
The couple gave up their jobs – Kat as a caseworker for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Steve as a schoolteacher – before embarking on their journey of a lifetime in May this year, and have also left behind their chickens and cats at their home in Forest Hill, South London, which is being looked after by friends while they are away.
Besides looking to set that new tandem record, they are also aiming to raise money for the charity Practical Action, which seeks to harness technology to alleviate the plight of people in the developing world living in poverty.
According to Mail Online, Kat had minimal experience of riding a bike before getting in the saddle for her honeymoon-with-a-difference, and with the start of the trip coinciding with the onset of the Southern Hemisphere winter, the couple have had to contend with ice and snow, in contrast to the searing temperatures they have subsequently experienced further north.
“The first four months of this trip were so hard. We cycled through gallons of rain and waves of gales,” she revealed.
“My feet felt like they were constantly soaked and at times I wanted to give up so much, so that I could enjoy a beer and good company with friends or the warmth of a fire or a Sunday roast at mum’s or a belly-aching laugh with my brother or a family knees-up in Plymouth.
“And dare I say it, even working in a dry office felt appealing at times.”
The couple, who spent Christmas in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, celebrated the festive season by posting a video online that focuses on the Australian leg of their journey.
After Malaysia, their planned itinerary will take them through countries including Thailand, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, before heading through Europe and back into the UK in early 2014.
They are getting by on a budget of £20 a day, sometimes sleeping in a two-man tent, other times under a roof thanks to the generosity of family, friends - in some cases friends of friends - and even total strangers who have heard about their travels.
“We have found the first months very hard and we haven't had the energy or the contacts to do very much other than cycle, which isn’t exactly a traditional way of enjoying a honeymoon,” said Steve, who has worked in Australia and spent a year riding around the country when he was aged 19.
“At first, we were also not sure whether we could do what we were planning to do but now that we have completed six months and the Australian Outback we feel much more confident that we can do this.
“If we do, it will be the most amazing achievement. The world record is just something we added in as a fun extra.
“It shouldn’t take away from the more important things on our trip, which is how we cope with all the adventures and challenges we have on the way. We will see people living in poverty and struggling to survive, which will make us even more determined to raise money for Practical Action.”
You can find out more information about the couple’s trip, including a comprehensive travel journal which has full details of their journey to date and the people and places they have encountered, on their Tandem Turners website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.