Passionate about cycling and human rights, Ed Sutton has decided to raise money for WaterAid and Street Child of Sierra Leone by tackling the unimaginable: an epic, multi-year cycling trip around the world. Traveling under the moniker the "Thirsty Cyclist", Sutton has biked from his home in the UK to Africa, and will continue on to Asia, Australasia, and the Americas. We reached out to Sutton while he was working his way through Malawi, and asked about the challenges, highlights and inspiration for his trip.
Why did you decide to embark on a round-the-world cycling trip? What do you hope to accomplish with it?
I wanted to do something different with my life, and to make a difference for others. I love sport and travel, and this was also the biggest challenge I could think of. I figured it was also something that would make people want to donate money to my charities.
Can you tell us a little about WaterAid and Street Child of Sierra Leone, and why you chose these NGOs in particular to donate money to?
WaterAid tackles the biggest problem in Africa. You automatically think of drinking water, but actually people are dying due to poor sanitation. I wanted to do something about that. I haven't visited the WaterAid projects yet but I have visited the schools run by Street Child of Sierra Leone a couple of years ago when I ran a marathon there. Just £50 gets a child off the streets, reunites them with family and gets them into school for a year. Such a small amount of money means nothing to us but completely changes a life over there.
Has it been difficult to rely on the 'kindness of strangers' for your accommodation?
I have found people to be incredibly friendly. The strangers I have stayed with, especially in Turkey, are all now great friends.
What has been your most hair-raising experience? Your most heart-warming? Your favorite place you've been so far? I was hit by a car in Italy, but I wasn't hurt just shook up a bit. The friendliness and generosity of ordinary Muslims who gave me free food, drink and accommodation even when they had very little, in Turkey, Egypt and Sudan was very heart-warming. And my favorite place so far is Malawi, where I am right now. It's a little piece of paradise.
When will you finish the African leg of your journey? What are you plans after that?
I hope to finish Africa in Cape Town by the end of May. I then plan to go around South America. After that, North America, and then I will cycle from Australia through Asia and back home. I will have cycled all six continents and will need a rest!
(Editor's note: On the publishing date of this article, Ed has continued his epic journey in South America.)