If you have ever been on a long adventure that has been physically demanding, you will understand the sense of disorientation that sets in when you finally stop. In my case, when I had finally stopped pedalling, sedentary lethargy threatened, and then after a 24 hour flight with no sleep, a wicked dose of jet-lag stalked me into submission. But when I arrived at Heathrow Airport, I was bright and chirpy, and delighted to be met not only by Jenny, but also by my brother Dominic.
And as you can see, the answer to the big question “Will he, or won’t he” (ie bring the bike back home) is clearly answered. It will either become a garden feature, draped in all kinds of climbing plants, or if proven fit, it could become a run-around bike for local trips.
A few days at home drifting in and out of sleep at random times of the day, eventually merged into a welcome-home reception at our local Bytes Café. I hadn’t fully realised just how many people had been following my progress all those miles away. Some said how sad they were that the daily post on the blog might cease, now that the journey was over. Some kindly hinted that a book should emerge from all this. Amidst sandwiches, cakes, coffee and raffles, we raised yet more money for the charity, bringing us to almost £6,500………and still counting.
I want to thank all those who came out in the cold to welcome me home, and especially to Jean Stratford who was the prime mover in making it all happen. When you are thousands of miles away, pounding the miles in some distant land, forging a lonely furrow from one end of a country to another, you sometimes forget there is a spirit of community that is willing you forward. And coming back to that community is a forceful reminder that these things never happen in isolation.
If you are reading this, and you have followed some (or all) of this journey, and even contributed something to the Children in Syria Appeal, I want to thank you sincerely. For me, it has made the whole thing much more than just one man riding his bike…….it has added our grain of sand to helping a few unfortunate children suffering in a desperate civil war.
Children in Syria Appeal: http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
Whenever I finish one biking expedition, I am frequently asked soon afterwards: “So, where’s the next one to?” Coyly, I try to avoid giving a direct reply until, that is, a solid foundation is laid for the next one.
Well that foundation is now laid, and set in stone. Plane tickets have been purchased which will take me (via Singapore) to Auckland in New Zealand in mid January. This is going to be my most challenging ride to date; not so much for the distance (which is 1500 miles), as for the nature of the terrain, the challenges that both wind and rain can throw at me, and the relatively long stretches of remote country that I will be traversing, especially on South Island.
The End-to-End of New Zealand does not enjoy the same iconic status of the Land’s End-John O’Groats route here in the UK, but it does betray an equally ‘gritty character’ and a ‘Jekyll & Hyde personality’: one minute all smiling and loving, the next minute glowering and threatening. New Zealand normally enjoys a temperate, benign climate similar to that of the UK, but unannounced Pacific weather fronts can appear (even in summer) that can dog your progress and drive you indoors, sometimes for days at a time.
My starting point will be Cape Reinga, the north-westernmost tip of North Island, and I will finish 1500 miles/2400 kms later at Bluff, the southernmost point of South Island. The journey will take me from the subtropical north in the middle of summer to the point nearest the Antarctic, before ( I hope) the weather turns autumnal.
The Children of Syria
The problems of Syria are never far from our television screens. Innocent people are being killed, injured and displaced every day, and thousands have fled across the borders to escape the carnage. My focus is to support the refugee children, whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict, and many have lost one or both parents in the Civil War.
Please support these children generously and, if you are a taxpayer, please gift aid your donation so that Save the Children can increase the value of your giving by 25%.
All the expenses of this 1500 mile expedition will be mine. Every penny of your donation will go to support the Children of Syria.
You can donate in two simple ways:
1. by clicking on my Just Giving webpage
2. or by texting from your mobile to 70070, quoting the following code: FJRB49, then stating the amount (eg. £20). This is a free service offered by Vodafone, so you won’t be charged for the text, and the amount donated will be debited to your phone bill. All very simple!
If you can support this very worthy cause, a huge ‘thank you’ on behalf of Save the Children.