Warwickshire teenager takes on 10,000-mile Silk Road cycle
Fierce heat, perishing cold and 4,500m-high mountains are among the challenges a Berkeswell teenager is preparing to face on a gruelling 10,000km cycling challenge.
Eighteen-year-old William Hsu and his friend Charles Stevens will be among the youngest people to have tackled the Beijing to Tehran cycle - which will take them along the Silk Road across nine countries over four months of cycling.
William, a former pupil of Arnold Lodge School in Leamington, is aiming to raise around £25,000 to fund a learning centre for vulnerable children in Ayenyah, Ghana, run by the charity A Child Unheard.
William said: “We wanted to do something a bit more interesting than going to Thailand on our gap year.
“At the moment we are just cycling as much as we can. Charles gets bad altitude sickness - it’s hard to prepare for that kind of thing. But we’re just keeping ourselves in the best shape possible.”
The route will see the boys travel from China to Iran through Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - traversing deserts, steppes and mountain ranges.
They are cycling in a group of 20 with TDA Global Sports - but once given their route at the start of each day, the pair will largely be left to their own resources.
Shortly after returning from the trip, William will begin his degree in international development and economics at Bath University.
He said: “We are mentally preparing ourselves. As it gets nearer, the reality is sinking in. It’s going to be a very different way of living. I’m not entirely sure what to expect.
“My parents have been quite good. At first, it was a very stern ‘no’, but after a lot of persuading, they are on board.”
William and Charles had visited the orphanage in Ghana in 2013 and returned last year - but it had run out funding and was taken over by A Child Unheard. This inspired them to take on the challenge to help fund the creation of a learning centre for the children.