Former Crawley Wheelers member cycles across the world

He will carry all of his belongings on his bike.
He will carry all of his belongings on his bike.

John Pears, 33, has set himself the challenge of cycling across the world, from New Zealand to John O'Groats, Scotland.

Originally from Stechford, Birmingham which he says will 'make anyone resilient, tough and humble', he moved to Crawley after graduating from the University of the Creative Arts in Rochester and joined his local cycling club, the Crawley Wheelers.

John has started his journey cycling across the world, recording a podcast along the way.

John has started his journey cycling across the world, recording a podcast along the way.

A few years ago, he flew to New Zealand with nothing but a rucksack and his bike, and after realising that having fewer belongings made him happier he decided to combine cycling and living with less for a year.

John said: "I love a good story. It’s what binds us as humans, shapes our history and influences us in our lives. So alongside the ride, I’ll be talking to all the passionate, interesting and dramatic stories that fuel the world of cycling by sharing a cultural perspective across the world.

"My main reasons for doing this are to challenge to myself to ride across the world, it's obviously a big challenge, and I want to travel to countries like Cambodia, India and Iran - countries that don't have the best reputation in the UK.

"The other challenge is to live off a bike for the whole time - I sold everything, I've only got one pair of underwear!"

This is his estimated route: starting in Sydney, making his way through Asia, over to Iran and Turkey, then either through southern or northern Europe. He will then see friends in Sussex, before heading up to John O'Groats.

This is his estimated route: starting in Sydney, making his way through Asia, over to Iran and Turkey, then either through southern or northern Europe. He will then see friends in Sussex, before heading up to John O'Groats.

John's journey will span across 12,000 miles, and along the way he's running the Pedalling Podcast.

He said: "I'm really interested in sharing stories because I find it doesn't matter where in the world you are, when people ride bikes they have an immediate connection.

"It doesn't matter if they use them to the shops, if they race, or mountain bike."

Along his journey he'll interview people across the industry, from coaches to advocacy groups encouraging people to cycle more, as well as people who build and maintain bikes and importers and exporters.

As well as the physical challenge of cycling across the world, John will have huge cultural and language barriers, especially when he travels through more rural and remote areas.

He said: "From what I've researched I think people respond to people differently on the road. You can go to places where people don't see others during the day, and especially in remote areas of Asia, and other countries, I'll be going through places where the least English is spoken in the world. And I only speak English."

He'll be relying on Google Translate, and has plans to make documents in different languages with the essential things he needs to ask people, like directions to an embassy or bike shop, or where to find food, water, and medical attention.

He said: "Another big challenge will be motivating myself sometimes, getting up when it's cold and pushing on when I want to rest. Australia is surprisingly cold, in the south the temperature can drop to the minuses, and one night my water bottle was frozen solid!

Above all else, his biggest concerns are making sure he can eat, stay hydrated, and avoid getting ill, especially in areas where drinking water isn't as easily available.

However, he remains positive, and is excited to catch up with people in the UK this time next year.

He's also excited to try Asian food, saying 'it's laced with loads of cultural differences in different countries', and to get into Iran, which is a difficult process for British passport holders as they need to go with a tour group and find a sponsor.

About his podcast, he said: "I started the series out in New Zealand by starting the first interview with Barbara Cuthbert, the lead person running Bike Auckland, a city-wise advocacy group for cycling.

"After that, I wanted to speak to a diverse range of people, so I got to sit down with a publisher, coach, wheel builder, mountain bike athlete, filmmaker, cycle tourers, book writers and bike shops."

His end goal for the entire experience is not only to fulfil a dream of cycling across the world, but to meet people, understand himself better and explore the wonderful cultures along the way.

He said: There will be highs and lows throughout and I want to learn and share that experience as I go.

"I hope that I can inspire other people to take on a journey by bike themselves. Whether that is an overnight camp or signing up to an event, perhaps even following my journey. The podcast and audio stories I hope to turn into a deep storytelling journal that everyone can take their own insight and inspiration from by exposing the stories I find with the wider world."

To follow John on his story, follow his Facebook here, his Strava here, or his Instagram here.