Features > Featured Guest Interviews
At the early stages of planning my own cycle trip, back in September 2009, I had the pleasure of stumbling across Kevin Shannon at the Earls Court, London.
Kevin was located to the very edge of the show room, in a tiny booth, away from the main stream cycling stalls, promoting his forth coming expedition. If I hadn’t of taken the wrong turn at the Madison stand I would have totally missed him and his amazing story that follows.
Kevin was embarking on an extraordinary quest of endurance, distance and solitary adventure that would take 3 years to complete. He was only relying on his mountain bike, with trailer on tow and any other forms of human or natural power to help him circumnavigate the globe. The trip was to be a zero emissions FREE Odyssey. If any form of motorised transport was to be used to get to any destination during this event, Kevin would be penalised and would have to return to the exact Gps location in which he entered that vehicle to continue with his cycling quest.
The Departure – Take one.
His first departure from his home town, in Cheshire, didn’t go as smoothly as he was anticipating. Two weeks later in Plymouth, as he cycled down a country road, a small car clipped his trailer. This resulted in him being catapulted into the only bed of nettles for a 100 yards leaving him with painful stings all over his body and the straining of ligaments in his knee. After a visit to A&E, the doctors confirmed that Kevin’s plan, to catch a sail boat over the Channel would have to be postponed for 3 weeks as he rested at a friend of his Grandparents house.
Three weeks later Kevin was fit enough to attempt “Take two” of his much anticipated departure across the English Channel to arrive in Cherbourg, France. This is where his adventure really started to begin as what turned out to be an incredible journey as he made his way in an unorthodox fashion around the globe.
I recently caught up with Kevin via Skype. He had a few days to relax and reflect in the comfort of a house in Serbia, whose biker friendly owners opened their doors to him (and fridge) and helped service his bike.
He told me how he had had slightly prejudged ideas about Serbia and had worried, due to bombs that were dropped by NATO in 1999, about how people would react to him and the Union Jack flag hanging of the rear of the bike.
He was soon to have his anxieties lifted as the Serbian people were incredibly hospitable and friendly. They opened their doors to him, fed him and even invited him for a taste of the local beer and homemade Rakija as he cycled through the small towns – feeling like he was “standing out like a sore thumb”. With having the Union Jack flying proudly behind him there was no need for the sock he used to cover it in uncomfortable times. In a week, due to incredible kindness and hospitality, he managed to spend nothing of his 5euros a day budget.
I asked Kevin if there had been one particular event during his first 9 weeks on the road that stood out the most. He instantly broke out in to a story involving him, a stray puppy and some bacon fat cuttings in Sid, Serbia.
“While cycling one evening I couldn’t help but notice a stray puppy on the road side that was trying to find comfort from another dog that was sadly dead. At this point I decided to give the puppy the cuttings of fat from my rations of bacon. Then as the puppy enjoyed his treat 6 more huge dogs ran around the corner. With the thought of the Alsatians wanting the bacon and possibly me, I mounted my bike to attempt a quick getaway. The dogs followed me for 2km as I frantically pedalled to escape them losing one of my shoes in the process”.
I asked if he returned to retrieve his shoe but he replied that he was too worried the dogs would still be hanging around eager for this bacon.
Q; what is your choice of bicycle?
A; Genesis Altitude, Steel Framed Hard tail Mountain Bike.
Q; What is your inspiration behind this trip?
A; “One of my earliest memories is being sat on the floor of the assembly hall at primary school and being told by my head teacher about this incredible man who attempted to climb Mt Everest. I was fascinated and it was then I knew I wanted to do something similar when I grew up. It wasn’t until I left University, a couple of years ago, and I found a book about a man cycling to Beijing that the idea for my own expedition really began to take shape.”
Q; How many Kilometres on average do you cycle per day?
A; Anywhere from 80 – 120km per day, depending on the terrain.
Q; How many countries have you been though to date and where is next?
A; Six. England, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and currently Serbia. Montenegro will be next.
Q; Do you have a current personal best on distance covered in one day?
A; Yes 160km, due to my Free Loader Pro Solar charger falling out from under my bungee cords. I ended up cycling 20km back the way I just came from to a location where I stopped and adjusted my bike. On return to the spot, there was no sign of it so I decided to turn back around and carry on cycling and arrange to get a new one sent to me. But 1km from where I realised I lost it there I saw it was on the road- as if waiting for me. 39 km of cycling that was not needed to have been done if only I had noticed it there.
Q: What is the best way to contact you or follow you on your amazing Odyssey over the next 3 years?
A; My website http://www.becauseitisthere.co.uk/ for blog updates and Twitter http://twitter.com/Kev_Shannon for day to day tweets.
Kevin’s top 5 pieces of kit
1, Free Loader Pro solar charger - “ If I didn’t have the solar charger, simple pleasures of my iPod, gps and mobile devise to help me Tweet everyday wouldn’t be able to be used”
2, Telestial (mobile devise) – Supplied by his sponsor Telestrial to help him maintain a form of communication with the world left miles behind.
3, Bivvy bag – Supplied by Alp Kit, Kevin has used this a lot in what he calls “Urban wild camping”. A very helpful piece of kit used in situations where tents can’t be erected or concealment is needed from unwanted prying eyes.
4, Waterproof headphones – Donated by Sennheiser, the headphones have been proven time and time again, as he cycles in all weather conditions and even his own sweat.
5, Wrist watch – His ZG watch has been very helpful not just in telling the time but to help him keep note of the increasing and decreasing altitude, temperature and a very handy compass if his gps was to fail.