From having his belongings stolen to being mistaken for a psycho, charity worker Martin Hewell has experienced an eventful cycle ride from Athens to Amsterdam.
The 26-year-old, from Euxton, cycled more than 3,470km to raise funds for the The Zuri Project which tackles poverty, malnutrition, food insecurity, access to health care, education and sport opportunities in South Uganda.
Martin, who co-founded the charity, travelled through 10 countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Slovenia.
But he experienced a few difficulties, including having his bags stolen in Croatia.
He said: “I locked my bike up to nip into a bakery to get a sandwich and walked out to a naked bike and just the clothes I was wearing to my name. I could no longer listen to any music as my iPod was stolen. Luckily I went into the cafe with my little day bag with my phone, wallet and passport in. But my other bags with clothes, stove, gas, food etc in were gone. So I had to buy everything again.
“A more amusing incident was when a couple asked me what I’m doing, I replied ‘I’m cycling to Amsterdam’, they mistakenly heard and exclaimed, ‘You’re a psycho from Amsterdam,’ People said I was mad to be doing this challenge.”
The 47-day trip was certainly a challenge for Martin, but it was something he will treasure and remember forever.
He added: “I am so elated, yet so relieved that I have finished. There were a lot of times that I questioned whether I could do it or whether I had bitten off more than I could chew. There were moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, especially during the first two weeks of hill after hill.
“The accumulation of exhaustion from the last 40-odd days of cycling on average nine hours a day, day-in, day-out, started to hit me during the last week.
“But now that I have finished I can say it’s incredible to realise what you can do when you put your mind, efforts and energy into something you are passionate about - the cause and my passion for adventures and challenges. This trip really put things into perspective for me. Whenever I thought about the pain I was in, I quickly changed it to thinking about the things in my life that make me happy and content.
“Not many people can say they have cycled 3,600km from Athens to Amsterdam. An incredible journey. And I remember stood in Amsterdam, dazed, just the thoughts of all the last 47 days coming into one moment. I still can’t quite believe I have done it.
“To see the donation total surpass £2,500 I can say it was totally worth it.”
The money will go towards The Zuri Project's work in engaging with local people to implement development projects such as sustainable agriculture, health, sport, education, nutrition, female sanitisation and income generating projects.
For more information visit http://www.zuriprojectuganda.org/ and to view Martin’s blog of the trip visithttp://www.athenstoamsterdamblog.wordpress.com.
To donate visit http://www.cafdonate.cafonline.org/6164
For previous stories on The Zuri Project /athens-to-amsterdam-cycle-trek-for-the-zuri-project-1-8444042 and /helping-out-a-community-in-uganda-1-7956393