Ipswich around-the-world cyclist reaches Istanbul despite three car collisions
PUBLISHED: 18:33 29 April 2015 | UPDATED: 18:33 29 April 2015
A passionate cyclist who set off on an around-the-world challenge after a string of misfortune has made it to Istanbul - surviving three car strikes along the way.
Gary Taylor decided to pack up and leave Ipswich behind after losing his long-term girlfriend and his job as a forklift driver.
The unlucky romantic was further set back in January when he broke his tooth on a chip, meaning a possible delay to his journey.
But 66 days ago he finally hit the saddle and has made it through nine countries, cycling more than 4,000km – and is seven days ahead of schedule.
He said: “Starting out was really hard, the cold was brutal through the Netherlands and Germany but I stuck with my tent in my battle to keep costs down.”
The determined cyclist climbed through the Alps tackling -7C temperatures and 6-10cm of snow, then headed east to Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.
The 30-year-old said he was “absolutely overwhelmed” by the generosity of locals, who offered warm accommodation in barns, spare rooms and garages free of charge.
Crossing into Romania, he suffered three days and nights of non-stop rain, soaking him, his tent and all of his equipment.
“Nothing is more soul destroying than packing up a wet campsite, cycling all day in rain, then setting up the same wet camp for a night of broken sleep before doing it all again,” he said.
After a short rest in a hostel in Bucharest, Mr Taylor began eight days of “torturous” riding to Turkey, with every day posing a different challenge.
Heat, hills, dehydration, hunger, bad roads – then another day of rain, in which he left his shoes outside forcing him to wear carrier bags for socks the following day.
“This was preceded by a night below zero which froze my tent solid,” he said. “These evils rarely worked alone on chipping away at my spirit, pushing me very close to breaking point; but as a friend pointed out to me before: ‘all you can do is put one pedal in front of the other’.”
His journey to Turkey’s largest city ended with an hour-and-a-half of cycling in rush-hour traffic – resulting in three collisions with cars.
He will now set off on the next two of six legs – from Istanbul to Baku, then from Aktau to Bishkek.
He said the next part of the route would bring new challenges, from a ferry with no timetable, to a “central Asian visa jungle”.
“It will certainly be interesting, I have no doubt of that. I feel good, though, and despite the challenges my motivation is higher than ever,” he added.
Mr Taylor, who originally aimed to complete the journey in 18 months, said he now had a personal target of 500 days.
To donate to Gary’s chosen charity, Re-cycle, visit: www.gearsweneveruse.com