Throughout 2015, we’ve been following the utterly amazing story of Andrew Rogerson – the Cycling Scouser, who spent five months travelling 10,000 miles from Shanghai to Liverpool – all to support Anthony Nolan’s lifesaving work, and inspired by a very special young boy.
At the end of the year, Andrew looks back on his astonishing achievements.
It’s approaching two months now since I arrived back in Liverpool. 10,000 miles, five months, and a trip of a lifetime, all behind me.
Why I cycled for Charlie
My inspiration for the trip was my friend’s young son, Charlie Fearns, who was diagnosed with leukaemia for the second time around two years ago. Thankfully he’s still here today, but that’s only because of the outstanding work Anthony Nolan does. Amazingly, the team found a donor in Germany, and he’s now doing fantastically well. He’s an active, smart boy and he’s just recently competed in his school sports day!
My cycling Scouser adventure
I set off from Shanghai, China on 6th May, with a very strict deadline for when I had to be home and back to work by. 19 countries later, I managed to arrive back in Liverpool on 4th October – the exact date I’d planned over a year earlier! My friends often complain that I’m overly punctual, but I think this was taking it to a new level.
I knew, setting off, that a trip of 151 days was going to be full of highs and lows, and after five punctures on day three, it’s safe to say I felt as though I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew. Things improved though, and the miles edged up so that eventually, I was averaging over 80 miles a day.
The trip took me to some of the most amazing and remote places on Earth; I cycled through 57-degree heat in Turkmenistan, over some of the world’s highest mountain roads in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and across the windiest place on Earth – the Gobi Desert, China.
Eastern Turkey proved to be the most hostile spell of my trip. Sadly, I arrived on the eve of the anniversary of the first Kurdish terror attack. Every year at this time, more attacks occur, so it was a high-risk place to be. My second day in Turkey was a real low point – within one hour I had already been held up at gunpoint. Later, two shepherds tried to knock me off my bike with their sticks. It’s fair to say that I was relieved to get to my hotel that night – camping was not an option!
There were other challenges, too – food and accommodation, mainly. China was the biggest struggle for food. I think it’s for the best that I couldn’t read the menu, something tells me I would have eaten even less than I did! I resorted to walking around other people’s tables trying to find something my stomach could handle, and then pointing at their food. Rude, but my only choice, sadly. As for accommodation, I pretty much slept wherever possible. I carried my tent with me for the entire trip, so camping was always an option. I had to sleep in a storm drain in the Gobi Desert, as it was too windy to set up my tent, and it was the only cover. Thankfully, it didn’t smell too bad – no worse than me, anyway.
Despite there being many low points, they were far outweighed by the good. On an almost daily basis through Central Asia, I was invited into people’s homes, fed, given water, and sent on my way. No family I met in this region could speak any English, but to them it did not matter. The culture there is such that they treat guests with tremendous hospitality. No more so was this highlighted than in Iran. It got to the point where I was so sure of the Iranian generosity, that I would stop taking money into the grocery store. I knew either the shopkeeper or another customer would insist I didn’t pay. For everything we’re told about Iran, and other countries in that region, I can safely say I’ve never felt as safe, or as well taken care of as I did there.
Back home – and an incredible fundraising success
Arriving back at Liverpool’s iconic Liver Building, with hundreds of family members, friends, and well wishers there to welcome me, it’s something that will live with me forever.
This challenge was never about a personal journey, it was about raising money and awareness for Anthony Nolan, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride as I arrived back into my home city.
My initial target when I set up my JustGiving page was £3,000 but the secret target I had in my head was £10,000. As I write this, the current amount stands at over £22,000. Unbelievable.
Incredibly, Andrew hasn’t stopped there. In 2016, he’s planning some truly incredible challenges – he wants to run 5 marathons in 5 days from Amman to Petra, and then he plans to row the Atlantic on his own for Anthony Nolan!
If you want to support him for his brilliance, tirelessness, and lifesaving dedication, please do donate to his JustGiving page here. He deserves every penny!