Before Andrew Crompton embarked on a 15,500-kilometre cycling trip, he was a leisurely cyclist. At the most, he rode one day a week.
That all changed in July, when the 57-year-old Brit set off on a push-bike from his home town in Manchester.
Andrew Crompton cycled 15,500 kilometres, visited 18 countries, and travelled through 14 time zones.Credit:Justin McManus
His final destination? Melbourne.
Crompton has ridden about 150 kilometres almost every day since then. He averages about five hours a day, with his loyal mate John “Millsy” Mills driving slowly behind him in a van.
By the time he arrives at his finish line, he will have ridden 15,500 kilometres, visited 18 countries, and travelled through 14 time zones.
“I’ve got to say I was a bit unprepared on the training,” he said.
He has been chased by a pack of wild dogs in Turkey, serenaded by a Kurdish leader, and berated by a room full of naked Germans.
Starting in the UK, he rode across Europe, through parts of the Middle East, and down through Asia.
He arrived in Australia in February, and for the past eight-weeks he has been cycling down the east coast from Cairns to his final destination of Melbourne, where his two sons and granddaughter live.
“All the Australians I’ve met since arriving in Cairns think I am off my rocker,” he laughed.
He’s also raised $475,000 for two UK charities, Carers Trust and Bolton Lads and Girls Club, which aim to provide support for young unpaid carers. It’s a cause that’s important to Crompton, who has been a mentor at the Bolton Lads and Girls club for years.
According to the charities, young carers in the UK are three times more likely to not be in education, employment or training than others their age.
Crompton said it would be impossible to recount all the tales he’d gathered along the way, but there were two that stuck out.
The first was in Turkey, when he and Mills met a Kurdish leader who insisted on making them a home-cooked meal.
During the dinner, the leader managed to procure a bottle of wine, but was unable to open the cork.
“I went and got my corkscrew out – it’s part of my essential equipment – and gifted it to him,” Crompton said.
Andrew Crompton on one of the many roads he has cycled along over the past eight months
“In return, he insisted on singing me a love song. It was quite a surreal moment. Really, he wanted to give me the gift of song in return for my corkscrew.”
Another moment that sticks out for Crompton was in Germany, when he made the ultimate faux pas, walking in on an historical sauna ritual called an Aufguss.
“You’ve got 60 Germans naked in this sauna, and they all go into emotional and spiritual silence for 20 minute periods,” he said.
Once the Aufguss starts, patrons are not allowed to walk in – a rule Crompton was not aware of.
“I literally just walk[ed] in – and thinking I’m being funny – just said to them ‘all right lads, room for a little one?’ and I sat down.
“They all went absolutely crackers.”
Though Crompton couldn’t work out exactly what they were yelling at him, it certainly didn’t sound friendly.
When Crompton arrives in Melbourne on Sunday, he’ll be reunited with his three sons Tom, Alex and Max, his wife San, and his two-year-old granddaughter, Sienna. He’ll also be ready to celebrate with a couple of cold pints.
As for the bike?
“It’s being thrown in the Yarra,” he chuckled.
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