A trip to Australia ended up being a journey all around the world – by bicycle.
Clare Thurgar, 61, and her partner Gideon Reade, 55, planned a two-year trip, thinking that was roughly what they would need to do Australia.
But when they got to Thailand, they realised they would make their destination in 15 months and as neither wanted it to end there, they decided to carry on across the globe.
They finally returned home to Tyne Close, Durrington, last Wednesday, to a warm welcome from the family.
Clare said: “We went through quite a depressive state as we got nearer home, not knowing what it would be like once the journey was over.”
Clare was a teacher at Georgian Gardens Primary School in Rustington for 20 years before retiring six months early, so they could set off for Australia in spring.
She said: “Most people who do it are youngsters and I read it tended to take 15 to 18 months. We thought ‘we won’t want to rush, we will take two years.
“When we got to Bangkok, it was evident we would manage it in 15 months. We decided to go around the world but kept changing what way we were going to do it.”
Having been told there were ‘rules’ for around the world cycling, they chose New Zealand and Madrid as the two antipodal points required to qualify.
They more than covered the 29,000km needed, having clocked up a total of 35,000km, but Clare said they possibly went a bit too far north-south to be a true continuous east-west journey.
Clare said: “To me, we have been around the world by bike, and we are two of five people in Worthing to have done that.
“We chose a route that would take in the most diverse cultures and for the most diverse experience.
“It was extremely hard work at times and extremely demanding, physically and mentally, and you learn a lot about yourself.”
They left Worthing on April 16, 2016, and experienced a week of sunshine but then it snowed in Germany. It was a bit hot in Turkey, it snowed in Kazakhstan and they hit India in winter.
Clare said: “It was the perfect time of the year for cycling in India but I would absolutely not advise cycling there. There don’t seem to be any rules of the road.
“Sumatra was the hardest cycle we had. Chat groups online advised us to take the west coast but it was crazy. It was a tropical rainforest. I fell over on the side and I was sliding down the hill because it was so steep, I could not hold the bike.”
The scariest time on the trip was when they accidentally ended up in the middle of the Kurds’ guerrilla war.
“That was the first time I had ever heard machine gun fire,” said Clare. “That was very scary. In the end, the police put us on a bus out.”
They were warned about kidnapping in South America, as well as mugging, but had no experience of these themselves.
Clare said: “We have had wonderful times in these places. They have been very nice people and most of the time they were very interested in us.”
They met several Worthing people on the way, including Tim Lezard, a triathlete acquaintance who cycled around the world a few years ago, and Tori Bush, who was on her own round-the-world trip.
Now they are home, Gideon will probably go back to work as a software engineer and Clare will look into part-time work.
Visit 2silvercyclists.net for more information on their trip.