How far would you go to make a difference? To mark this year’s International Men’s Day, we caught up with our charity partners the Hairy Handlebars, to hear why they’re taking on the ultimate cycling challenge – riding from London to Tokyo in an effort to raise £30,000 for men’s health charity Movember and the Ian Williams Foundation.
What made you take on the challenge of cycling from London to Tokyo?
Ben: “The idea of exploring the world on two wheels has been a long-held dream for both of us, but, it was over a few drinks on Christmas Eve in 2017 when we finally turned the idea into reality.
The fact that Japan was hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup, made it the perfect target for two rugby fans intent on taking on the journey of a lifetime – 2019 was far enough in the future to prepare and, at over 6,000 miles away, cycling to Tokyo would mean we could cycle across the world’s largest landmass.”
George: “Luckily, our motivation didn’t disappear when the hangovers set in! With a plan set out, we decided that taking on a challenge of this magnitude was a great opportunity to raise money and make a real difference to others.”
Why have you chosen to support the Movember Foundation and Ian Williams Foundation?
George: “We’re young men and both have friends that have suffered with some of the issues the Movember Foundation aims to tackle. We had taken part in growing mo’s for Movember previously so it was a good opportunity to keep our facial fuzz for another year and help continue the campaign to stop men dying too young.
The Ian Williams Foundation is a cause that lies very close to our hearts as it was set up in memory of our great friend Ian, who passed away suddenly earlier this year. The foundation aims to raise awareness of athletes’ health and wellbeing, in particular cardiac issues affecting rugby players. Helping to continue Ian’s legacy by donating 10% of the funds we raise is a big motivation to ensure we realise our ambition and push as hard as we can to reach our fundraising target.”
How are you preparing for your trip? Do you have any past experiences to draw from?
George: “I’ve developed a real taste for venturing outdoors in recent years, in particular hiking up mountains including Mount Toubkal in Morocco and I’ve also spent a week wild camping in the Norwegian Fjords. But, when it comes to cycling, I have to confess that neither of us are enthusiasts, although we did enjoy taking part in the London to Paris cycle recently.”
Ben: “We’re both very active and love being outdoors – George played rugby professionally for a couple of years and I completed numerous ultra-endurance events whilst serving in the military. Hopefully some of my previous training will come in handy!”
What made the Robert Walters Group the right partner for you?
Ben: “We felt that Robert Walters’ commitment to giving back to local communities was a strong fit with what we’re trying to achieve.
The company’s global presence spanning 28 countries was also a good match – we’ve heard that there are many cycling enthusiasts throughout the business and we hope a few of them will be able to cycle along with us when our route passes by their office locations.”
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ll face on the journey?
Ben: “We’ll be experiencing the world in the rawest ways possible – we’re sourcing everything as we go. It’s going to be a real adjustment to plan our day around finding food and water instead of work or social arrangements.
There is, of course, an element of fear about riding into the unknown but I think that fear is also what makes this challenge so exciting. We’ll face tough days, but I imagine the thrill of the adventure, exploring new cultures and knowing that we’re raising vital funds for incredible charities will keep us peddling on.”
Help support the Hairy Handlebars journey eastwards by donating here.
Want to join the adventure? Follow us on Instagram, where we’ll be posting updates on the Hairy Handlebars journey.