December 9 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A terrifying night in one of the world’s most dangerous cities, the glorious California coastline and a gruelling Mexican desert all featured in a Norfolk man’s cycle ride from Canada to Panama.
Christian Turner-Bridger also found himself rugby tackling a thief who stole his camera in Nicaragua.
But the 22-year-old, from Little Walsingham, near Fakenham, said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of the many strangers he came across during his 4,730-mile cycle trip which took three-and-half months to complete.
Mr Turner-Bridger, who is in the final year of a degree in economics and philosophy at Leeds University, had just finished a six-month exchange at the University of Victoria, Canada when he started his trip.
He slept in a tent most of the time and occasionally stayed in hotels.
Mr Turner-Bridger said: “I did it on a bit of a whim. I only intended to go down to the bottom of California but I just kept going.”
Most of the student’s time in America was spent cycling down the Californian coast, where he travelled through San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
He then cycled through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before finishing in Panama.
Mr Turner-Bridger, who arrived home last week, said: “America was probably the most fun part of the journey as there was less stress in the sense that I could speak the language and I was never too far away from places where I could get food and water.
“My Spanish is very basic to say the least and some of the places in Central America have quite notorious reputations.”
Perhaps the most unnerving experience Mr Turner-Bridger endured was in the Honduran city
of Tegucigalpa, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
He said: “I booked into a hotel for the night and planned to get out of the city first thing in the morning.
“That night I heard loud bangs which were either gun shots or fireworks. It was quite frightening – I kept telling myself they were just fireworks.”
Mr Turner-Bridger also suffered from heat exhaustion while cycling through a desert in Mexico but described the trip as an amazing experience and was able to recite numerous examples of strangers showing kindness.
He said: “Many people in Central America couldn’t really understand why I was doing what I was doing but most people I met were very kind, giving me food and coffee and making the effort to communicate despite the language barrier. Some of the places were very poor but had such a warm community spirit, which was great to see.”
Mr Turner-Bridger is planning to do the Mongol Rally, a drive from London to Mongolia, next year for Parkinson’s UK. His father suffers from the disease.
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