Jake Johnson is cycling from Singapore to Paris to raise money for a charity that has
supported his sister. Catherine Scott meets him.
When Jake Johnson sets off on his epic 16,500km cycle from Singapore to Paris there will be one thing on his mind – his little sister Lottie.
Lottie was born with cerebral palsy and needs constant care. She means the world to Jake, which is one of he main reason he and friend Pierre Subtil are taking on the challenge of this epic bike ride.
They are hoping to raise £5,000 for Newlife The Charity for Disabled Children – which over the years has helped make Lottie’s life a little easier.
“Lottie has cerebral palsy, a condition which means she can’t use her arms and legs.
“She was given a specialist seat in 2013 and a hoist in 2015 by Newlife. I saw how both pieces of equipment made life so much easier for both her and my parents,” explains Jake.
“Having experienced first-hand the extent to which equipment can help families with young disabled people, I wanted to be able to give something back to the charity that helped my little sister.”
University graduate Jake, 22, from Sheffield and his friend, Pierre, 23, from Uzes, France, will be setting off from Singapore on January 1, 2019, on the adventure of a lifetime.
They will spend around seven months cycling the long route from Singapore to France, covering more than 16,500 arduous kilometres on a journey including south east Asia and Iran.
The pair will be documenting their travels on social media and hope to raise £5,000, and as much awareness as possible for Newlife along the way.
Although their love of adventure and cycling bonds Jake and Pierre, it is Lottie who inspired their adventurous fundraiser.
With the clock ticking down and Jake planning to spend a month in Australia acclimatising before setting off on the trip, he and Pierre have both been busy securing visas and sponsorship wherever possible and, of course, putting in an enormous amount of training whenever they can.
“I’m on the bike most days just ticking over the miles and I’m planning to learn yoga to ease the stress on our bodies.
“While we are away we will update everyone through Facebook and we’re planning on doing little podcasts now and then, as well as video blogs about the challenges we’ll be doing in each of the countries we travel through. “
And as if cycling through some of the world’s most gruelling conditions, from the altitude of Nepal to the unrest in Pakistan, were not enough, the pair have pledged to let their Facebook followers set them a different challenge in each of the countries they cycle through.
“We want to get people involved in the trip too, especially as we are away for more than half a year, so for each of the countries that we’re visiting we’re going to put a poll on Facebook and get people to vote for challenges they want us to undertake in that country,” says Jake. “We shall then try and do the most popular challenges and blog, vlog and talk about our endeavours.
“This could include temporarily swapping our bikes for camels, trying belly dancing, or eating a super-hot curry.
“We’re hoping that this social media presence will enable people to appreciate and understand our approach of saying yes to the unexpected, of pushing ourselves, of having fun and of discovering the unknown.
“I am really excited about visiting all the places, especially Nepal, despite the altitude but it is all about making sure we are prepared for that. I am not worried about cycling through Iran, our only real concern is in a part of Pakistan where there is some tension and there have been reported kidnappings of foreigners.”
Afghanistan could also be a problem, but Jake seems happy just to make decisions along the way.
They plan to cycle an average of 100k a day with rest days factored in. Temperature will also be a challenge, with estimates of -15c when they cycle through Tibet and then hitting more than 40C in the Middle East. As well as the physical challenges there will be the psychological ones.
Jake and Pierre haven’t actually seen each other for more than a year. as Pierre has been in New Zealand.
“I am sure we will hate each other by the end of it,” he jokes.
“But honestly we get on well and actually balance each other really well.
“We will speak a mixture of French and English, as I spent a year in France so can speak the language quite well.”
They are currently securing sponsorship for their bikes so that ever penny of the money they raise will go to the Newlife charity to help people like Lottie.
And when times get tough, Jake will be thinking about Lottie to get him through.
“She is such a happy person despite having so many issues,” says Jake. “She can’t speak, but you can make her laugh.
“We’re also hoping that through our physical undertaking we’ll raise awareness of how hard it can be for people who have restricted use of their bodies in one way or another and that people will donate to Newlife in order to enhance the quality of life of disabled children.”
To support Jake and Pierre’s fundraising for Newlife, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cycling-eurasia-for-charity. Follow their journey Half The World Away adventure at www.facebook.com/HalfWorldAway