Cousins complete 'ridiculous' voyage

It started out as a madcap idea hatched over a few pints in the pub, but turned into an epic adventure, which saw cousins Ben Wylson and Jamie Mackenzie ride their trusty mountain bikes in every continent - facing the threat of serious illness, accidents and natural disasters along the way.

It started out as a madcap idea hatched over a few pints in the pub, but turned into an epic adventure, which saw cousins Ben Wylson and Jamie Mackenzie ride their trusty mountain bikes in every continent - facing the threat of serious illness, accidents and natural disasters along the way.

The intrepid duo are now safely back on UK soil having spent two years and seven months travelling across the globe without using aeroplanes.

Twenty-six-year-old Ben, from Lowestoft, explained how:

He was struck down by meningitis and appendicitis while travelling through South America

He was found unconscious on a mountain in Thailand after a fall

They survived cycling through landslides in the Eastern Himalayas

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They were involved in a serious road crash while travelling by bus through Peru

Ben, a former Kirkley High School pupil who lives in London Road South, said: "We had both finished our degrees and were working in the mental health system trying to raise some fast cash.

"We came up with this ridiculous scheme in the pub. We'd had a few and went home to look at the maps. We thought it was completely ridiculous but decided to give it a go."

Ben and Jamie, from Kent, managed to raise £4,000 each and started their journey from Dover in April 2005. They spent the next three months cycling through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland and Belarus before reaching Moscow. From there, a marathon train journey took them to Beijing and they then cycled to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The cousins next hitched a trip on a container ship to Australia before they spent the next year in Melbourne where they raised vital funds by selling 10,000 home-made books about their adventures.

Desperate to cycle in Antarctica, the industrious pair secured a trip on a millionaire's boat by offering to do the washing up and sleep in the engine room. There was a return trip to Australia, where they even landed a walk-on part in Neighbours, before they embarked on a 40-day voyage across the Pacific to Chile.

The South American leg of the journey proved one of the most eventful and for Ben one of the most dangerous.

"Everything was going really well and then I got meningitis. I thought it was going to die in Peru," said Ben.

The adventurers made their way through South America and Central America to the USA, from where they sailed to North Africa and then back to Europe - having travelled 50,000 miles in total and 7,000 miles in the saddles of their bikes.

Ben said he hoped a professionally produced book and possible a film of their exploits would follow, but admitted to looking forward to life back home.

"The trip has completely changed our lives, but I think we are now craving a more mundane way of life. We were roaming from town to town, but when you're away from your loved ones you realise how nice it would be to have a bit of stability."

For more details about the journey, visit www.freewheelseast.co.uk

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