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The loneliness of the long-distance cyclist

Cycling clown and round-the-world cyclist raise thousands for charity

Two cyclists with big smiles on their faces this week are round-the-world cyclist Glen Saberton and Richard Pantlin - who took the phrase literally by cycling across Zimbabwe dressed as a clown.

For Saberton, from York, the smile is partly a result of being back home amongst friends and family after enduring the loneliness of three years on the road.

The 37-year-old endured subzero temperatures and parching heat crossing icy peaks and vast deserts during his 20,000 mile journey through 34 countries.

He left in May, 2006, having done no training and only ever having pedalled to and from work on his bike before the challenge, according to a story in York paper, The Press.

He told the paper: “There were hard moments – at one point I was in Tibet and it was minus 40 then a couple of weeks later I was in West India in a heatwave and it was 55 degrees – so your body had to cope with massive changes, but it wasn’t the physical side to the trip that was hardest – it was the mental. You get so lonely and bored, for the vast majority of three years I was by myself which did get a bit tough going.”

Glen spent three birthdays and Christmases alone – something that was tougher than other challenges he battled on the trip including breaking his toe in the Cambodian jungle, facing altitudes of up to 17,500 feet, suffering with heat exhaustion, dehydration and food poisoning.

Cycling through places like Kazakhstan, Tibet and Cambodia inspired Glen to start raising money for Save the Children on his journey and he has so far collected around £1,000. Read more about his adventure here

Meanwhile cycling clown Richard Pantlin, from Oxford, is celebrating completing a cross-Zimbabwe cycle ride five days ahead of schedule.

The father-of-three, who embarked on a 373-mile cycle across the troubled African country on March 28, was raising funds to build an orphanage.

He and his team, which included two off-duty policemen and a fellow fundraiser, Zimbabwean-born Asher Mupasi, from Stoke-on-Trent, had intended to cycle from Bulawayo into the capital Harare in time for Independence Day on Saturday.

But despite initial setbacks, which included an arrest attempt on a member of the team, sunstroke, and a broken bike carrier, the team arrived in Harare five days early, according to a story in the Oxford Mail.

Mr Pantlin said: “The biggest impression is of a Zimbabwean people who are extremely hospitable, resourceful and friendly.

“Everyone was very supportive of the venture and we received photo coverage in two of the national newspapers.”

And not content with the challenges so far, Pantlin now hopes to set up a meeting with controversial president Robert Mugabe, in which he hopes to hand him a postcard, bought on his previous visit to the country in 1987, as a symbol of how the nation has deteriorated.

The team hopes the cycle ride will raise as much as £12,000 for the Health Education and Learning Programme (Help), which is building the orphanage. 

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