This is our final guest post from Claire Le Hur who has just returned from an epic cycling adventure to China with her fiancé Stuart Block. The couple started their adventure in East Africa, where they followed new ‘silk roads’ to chart the journey of key natural resources as part of an exciting new education project. Claire rode a bamboo bike built by an African social enterprise, and Stuart rode a tandem, keeping the back seat free for those they met en route. They have now raised awareness and thousands of pounds for two great educational charities. Find out more about Claire’s big adventure here.

Claire Le Hur

We got back to the UK on a very cold and grey day, and the next day was Brexit and all the ensuing madness: a political revolution in London, or just more of the same on (super) fast-forward? For anyone who hasn’t seen it, you can read Stuart’s blog post from a year ago here. He wrote it as we were leaving London for our adventure and he proved remarkably prescient when he predicted a ‘bloodbath in the corridors of Westmister’.

We were starting to wonder why we had bothered to come back to England, so to take our minds off things we got back on our bikes and made sure we cycled the full 11,000km we were aiming for (we reached 10,000km in Hong Kong.) We did our own version of the ‘London Revolution’, cycling around the M25 (or a few miles outside it!), visiting schools and friends along the way.

Our route took us to several schools in Surrey, Cambridge and London as well as two days at the Telegraph/Wellington Festival of Education at Wellington College. At Wellington we addressed teachers on ‘how to bring an adventure into the classroom’ and students on ‘Overseas Aid; Who Benefits’. We were delighted to have a photo call with renowned philosopher, A. C. Grayling.

With AC GraylingSo privileged to meet renowned philosopher, A. C. Grayling at Wellington

We had another Brompton day from Bedford to Cambridge with Chris and me on Bromptons and Ted on the back of Thandie. Lots of other friends and family joined us for rides. We were especially impressed with Daisy, Alice and Jonnie (aged 9 and 8) who managed a 30km hilly ride through the Chilterns. We had a great send off from The Leys in Cambridge when a group of 10 staff and students rode with us out of town.

Fairphone @LeysAnother Fairphone makes an appearance in Cambridge

Our final ride was big group doing a  beautiful Surrey Hills loop  starting at Giro Cafe from where we rode off almost exactly 10 months earlier. Massive thanks everyone for joining us, supporting us and especially to Jess and Ted for their own fundraising efforts.

Pask/BromptonsChris and I on Bromptons

Ted the TandemTed and Stu riding Thandie

EsherSome of the group at the end of the final ride in Esher

So on to the fundraising… we have now raised over £55, 000! Obviously it is fantastic to reach our target but if anyone else wants to donate they still can via our website – www.beyondthebike.org. We were tipped over the target amount by Colfe’s School and their end of term Mufti day but all donations big and small from friends, family and strangers have been so generous and will go an enormous way in the very deprived areas in Zambia and SE Asia.

Jodie Collins, from Beyond Ourselves, reports: “We are thrilled to be able to further invest in and empower the teachers at our partner schools in Zambia which Beyond the Bike cycled to back in October 2015 along with  the Cranleigh School group. This money will help bring the focused training and mentoring needed to develop the schools to sustainability, ensuring that 950 children each year receive a quality education in to the future.”

Teacher Patricia - Grade 1 Bemba lessonA Beyond Ourselves teacher, Patricia, teaching the Bemba language to Grade 1 children at a school in Zambia 

Tim Howarth from United World Schools reports that the money will be spent in two ways:

1. Developing a new community school for 200 children in Stung Treng Province, Cambodia. The province where we began ‘Ride Cambodia’ in March 201. Building will commence in September after the monsoon rains.

2. Developing and growing the UWS Teams, to enable us to develop both the quality of our educational programmes, as well as the scale at which we are operating – this means we will reach even more out of school children in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal.

UWSA United World School lesson in action at one of the schools we visited in Cambodia

A few projects we encountered en route will also benefit such as a primary school in rural Uganda and Gamerangers International in Zambia

MM schoolBeyond the Bike will help Michal Primary School, near Masaka. We spent a (rainy) day here on our journey across rural Uganda.

SAPU - FreddieBeyond the bike will also fund some of the great work Game Rangers International in Zambia do to protect wildlife

People keep asking us ‘what was the best bit?’ this is an impossible question to answer. The entire experience was incredible. Yes, there were some bad bits but they were usually due to tiredness/falling off/bum hurting (and that was mainly just me suffering). We have seen amazing places and met such wonderful people and been humbled by their generosity and interest. Therefore it seems fitting to end with a bit of Chinese philosophy. As Confucius says ‘ To have friends come from afar is happiness is it not?’ As this adventure comes to an end this quotation rings ever so true. We hope to see all our friends, new and old, from the last 10 months again.