How to Ride a Bike from London to Sydney

(Image credit: unknown)

Can you explain the task you set for yourself?
My friend Matt and I decided to cycle from London Trafalgar Square to Sydney. It took us 16 months and we covered 25,000km and raised over £26,000 for War Child, a charity that protects children living in the world’s most dangerous war zones.
How did you plan the route?
We had a wish list of countries we wanted to go to before we set off that we tried to include, but things didn’t always go to plan. Originally, we were supposed to go through Pakistan but were advised against it and had to take a detour round central Asia, travelling through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China, which added an extra three months and 5,000 miles [8,050km] to our original route.
What was the furthest you had ever ridden before you took on the challenge?
We did Land’s End to John o’ Groats [1,500km] a year before we embarked on this trip. It was a good way of proving we could work together and that we could cope with cycling long distances day after day.
Your trip lasted 16 months. For how much of that were you actually cycling?
We took breaks every now and then in places we really wanted to see. We weren’t really experienced cyclists so it was great to get off the bikes for a little bit and give our bums a break from the saddle. Though after a while even saddle sores weren’t a problem because the skin became so leathery. Even now, nine months after we finished, the skin around my bum is ridiculously tough.
 The most we rode in a day was in China, where we did 12 hours straight. It’s such a huge, huge place that we just wanted to make as much progress as we could in each day.

Mentally, what was your lowest point during the trip?
We got deported from Uzbekistan because we tried to obtain some fake tourist registration documents, so it was our own fault really. We were arrested, had our passports confiscated and were taken for questioning by the police. They asked us all sorts of questions about things like Iran’s nuclear programme and UK-based terrorist organisations. At this point we both had beards and were looking quite unkempt – but what sort of terrorists ride around on bicycles? It’s not exactly the most efficient means of escape!
Physically, what was the lowest point?
In Kyrgyzstan we had to ride in temperatures as low as -30°C. We were riding along mountain passes with icy headwinds. To get through it we had to remind ourselves we were there by choice. If we needed to, we could have picked up the phone and got out of there, but we kept thinking of the kids that War Child helps and how they have to go through worse than that every day with no option to pick up the phone. With that in mind, we managed to focus and get past the physical obstacles.
Without a support vehicle, how did you ensure you had enough clothing and equipment for the trip?
We made the mistake of packing too much when we set off, which made our bikes really heavy [around 50kg]. After three days of riding around with this, we quickly realised what was important and what wasn’t and ended up sending a load back to the UK. From then on we picked up stuff as we went, including long johns from a Marks & Spencer in Turkey.

What was the highlight of the trip?

Iran was amazing. For two weeks we stayed with a group of people we had met on and pretty much became part of their family. Plus, we were right next to the oldest street market in the world, which was amazing: full of life, sights and smells.

Did you have a strict diet or were you just consuming as many calories as you could get your hands on?
In some places it’s impossible to pick and choose your food so we took whatever we could get. For example, in Kurdistan we were eating about 6,000 calories a day purely in bread and butter. China had a lot of variety in the food, but hygiene wasn’t too great so dysentery was a bit of a problem.
Did either of you sustain any injuries during the trip, if so how did you manage to continue?
I didn’t have any particular injuries but did have a recurring hip problem that made itself known after a couple of months. I just rode through the discomfort. Matt managed to crash into the side of a cliff in Montenegro while admiring the Bay of Kotor and was cut to ribbons, but luckily, apart from surface wounds and being a bit shaken up he was fine and so was his bike.
In general, how did your bikes hold up?
We rode almost bomb-proof bikes called Pioneers made by Dutch company Van Nicholas. Apart from changing tyres and a minor issue with my gears, they managed to complete the trip in one piece.
What advice do you have for any MF readers thinking of taking on a similar physical challenge?
For me it’s been an enlightening and life-affirming adventure and I don’t know how I’m going to go back to a desk job. So I say do it. Don’t think too hard on it as you’ll always find excuses not to do these things, but if you do accomplish what you set out to do, I’m not exaggerating when I say your life will be better as a result.

Subscribe to MF - we'll give you 
five issues for £5, or download a digital version of the latest issue from iTunes.

The new MF interactive iPad magazine is out now. Click here for a free trial.

War Child operates in some of the world’s most dangerous countries providing life-changing support to  vulnerable children whose lives have been torn apart by war. To learn more about War Child, visit
To make a donation to War Child please visit
To read more about Matt and Andy's amazing adventure visit

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.