Yup that’s right, who would be mad enough to cycle from Ireland to Australia? Definitely not me!! My good friend David Stanbridge, AKA Stanner’s has always had a keen interest in traveling and adventures, what better adventure to go on than cycling around the world!
This blog really won’t do Stanners’ trip much justice, I think a book would be more appropriate. Maybe that could be his next project after he finishes cycling around the world?
Anyway… here it goes. In 2016 Stanner’s thought a lot about taking this trip and then decided to start planning it. He spoke to the bosses at work and they were willing to grant him a career break so in December 2016 he put the wheels in motion and sold his car – this was 3 months prior to his departure date.
After numerous good-bye parties and lots of tears Stanners left his home town of Islandmagee in Co Antrim on Monday 3rd April 2017 at 4.45 am. His father cycled with him to the boat in Larne and continued to cycle with him all the way to Newcastle Upon Tyne which is 360 km (I’m not sure my legs would even take me that far…rather you than me Stanners!).
He then cycled to Dover where upon boarding the boat and waving to his family from the top deck he spotted two other heavily loaded bikes: this couple were also headed to Australia! Imagine that, there are other people in the world as crazy as Stanners. Within the first month of cycling Stanners hit Slovakia and covered a total of 2400 km! All in one month! From Ireland to England to Netherlands to German to Austria to Slovakia. He experienced temperatures below freezing whilst sleeping in a tent and cooking meals in pots and pans like I’m a celebrity, get me out of here (without the fish eyes and kangaroo balls etc).
By the early part of May Stanners had reached Turkey and this is where he would be for the next month, cycling from one side to the other to reach Iran.
He encountered many different things while in turkey, he learnt a lot about the Turkish history and had a Turkish bath at Cagaloglu Hamam – the last Turkish bath to be built in the Ottoman Empire, so Stanners says anyway! This was one of his camping spots during his travels through Turkey, who needs a tent anyway?
Stanners spent his birthday in Turkey – on the morning of his birthday he received a video link form his dad with pre-recorded birthday messages from all friends and family. He watched this at 3 am after waking up for a pee during the night. He said he didn’t cry but I don’t believe him! On the day of his birthday he also reached the highest point of his trip at that time – 1500 m.
In June Stanners crossed over into Iran. After making it to Tehran, Stanners soon discovered the roads weren’t very safe; the traffic wasn’t overly heavy but there weren’t many rules on the road. The lines weren’t very clear and at junctions they disappeared altogether, thus it became like the area after a toll booth where a super wide area of cars are all darting for one narrower section of road. Meanwhile Stanners is trying to stay out of harms way. After a late night and early morning rise the sun soon got the better of him – he cycled to a car park where he came across a guy driving a truck and despite the language barriers he discovered that the fella was heading in the same direction that Stanners wanted to go. He clipped his bike securely onto the back of the truck and climbed into what should have been the passenger seat. However, there was no seat just a flat area covered with a carpet, needless to say no seat-belt either. As the journey progressed the man got a little too comfortable, sitting completely side ways with cruise control on and no way to break if he needed. At one point, whilst still driving, he proceeded to pull out a gas cooker, hooked it up to the engine and began to melt some sort of ‘substance’. Stanners was concerned for his life at this point as he laughed nervously and asked him if he was still okay to be driving while smoking ‘that’. Anyhow Stanners made it out alive and the nice man bought him lunch before they headed their separate ways.
Skipping on and missing a ‘few’ countries not to mention a hell of a lot of stories, (like how Stanners managed to get himself invited to weddings and how he survived through an entire country without money – he arrived at the Iran border with no cash and not realising you weren’t allowed to lift cash in Iran.
Stanners is now in Aisia and will spend Christmas in Vietnam, his goal is to make it to Oz by February 2018.
Stanners keeps his own blogs which have a lot more detail for anyone who is interested and wants to keep track of his whereabouts and how hes getting on – it really is worth the read.
What a man and what an inspiration to anyone wanting to travel. I’m one for an adventure and enjoy travelling myself but I think I’ll clock up my air miles rather than cycle! See you in 2018 Stanners and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at home. We miss you!
Jenny Martin is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431