ALASTAIR Humphreys had wanderlust in his blood from a young age.
From school trips and family holidays, to trips in his 20s over the Andes, the Himalayas and through Central America, they all left him wanting to go further.
So it came as no great surprise to his parents, Jenny and David, when he announced he was to spend three years travelling round the world – on a bicycle.
Four years later, after a series of delays extended the trip by a year, Alastair is due to return next month, having completed 45,000 miles on two wheels and raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process.
It's been a long time in the saddle for Alastair, but in some ways the separation is always harder for those left behind.
For Mr and Mrs Humphreys, his return will be a welcome one, but not one they expect will last for long.
Mrs Humphreys says: “He has done quite a few long trips before and said he wanted to do one more long one before he was done.
“He would really like to be a travel writer and he is working on that, so how long he’ll be around for we’re just not sure.”
She recalls difficult times when she heard how he had been held up at knifepoint in Colombia and another occasion when he was held up at gunpoint by drug-takers in Siberia.
More recently he was thumped by an irate motorist after he had given him an abusive gesture in Croatia.
Despite his absence she has been cheered by his frequent e-mailing from internet cafes around the world, although she says she does begin to worry when his e-mails don’t arrive on cue.
''I didn’t think it was going to be quite as long as it has been. I was very worried before he went; I didn’t really want him to go. The thought of him being rootless was my biggest concern, but we are used to him being away – he was at boarding school.”
Her husband says: “He is a grown man and keeps in touch. We are always in touch and he phones up every two to three months. Of course we are looking forward to seeing him when he returns in November very much.
“When he set off I wondered how far he would get. If he had got to the bottom of Africa I would have thought he had done well.”
Alastair’s route has seen him set off from North Yorkshire down to Dover. From there he crossed the Channel and on to Istanbul. He went to Cape Town and from there travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As well as South America he has cycled around Japan, Vladivostok, including the Road of Bones in Siberia, much of Africa and parts of Asia. He has also travelled to China, Alaska and Croatia.
He is due to land in Paris on November 8 and give a talk in front of 100 people in Kirkby Malham village hall about his exploits on November 26. When he returns he will contact an interested publisher with the thought of writing a book about his experiences.
Alastair graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in zoology and completed a PGCE teacher training course at Oxford before his itchy feet got the better of him.
At their home in Airton, near Skipton, Alistair’s bedroom remains largely untouched since his departure, the walls filled with maps, family photos and framed cuttings of newspaper stories of his travels. A large bookcase in one corner is filled with the dozens of photo albums which his mother has meticulously filled with more than 2,000 images Alastair has sent home over the years.
“It’s pretty much a shrine,” Mr Humphreys admits. “He’s always had an adventurous spirit – his brother’s the same. (Duncan, 26, is a sky-diving instructor).
“We’ve always encouraged them to go out and get on with it. He went through Africa on a dollar a day and he has never asked us for a penny.”
Standing at the doorway Mr Humphreys points to the distant Dales countryside and recalls the day Alastair embarked on his adventure.
“We saw him cycle off over that hill and we haven’t seen him since.”
Alastair is hoping to raise a pound a mile for Hope and Homes for Children, an international charity dedicated to providing a family and future for children orphaned through war, disaster or AIDS.
Mr Humphreys says: “It is only a small charity but it isn’t bogged down in admin costs and that’s what appealed to him. When he first set off and was trying to get sponsorship he struggled, but I think a lot of the money will come in when he’s finished it. I can’t believe he’s done it.”
“I’m just trying to get as much publicity for him as possible, because I think he deserves it. ”
For more details about Alastair’s trip or to sponsor him visit www. roundtheworldbybike.com.