This past month, rural hamlets in Kolkata and Maharashtra have had curious sightings of a bearded genial-looking man, as he peddles away on his colourful bicycle. The man in question is Sean Conway (31), a London-based photographer who shoots advertisements. He took a year-long break, in his quest to cycle the earth and raise £100,000 for Solar Aid, a charity trying to replace kerosene and oil-based lamps in Africa with solar power to reduce the harm caused by their emissions.
Mapping the route
Conway is aiming to break the present cycling record of 163 days by traversing 18,000 miles on a bicycle in over 150 days (he has taken flights along the way). He started off from Greenwich, London and has travelled across France, Morocco, Peru, Los Angeles, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Bangkok. He is presently in the last leg of his trip, and landed in Kolkata on June 7. From Mumbai, he will head off to Turkey and then to London in time for the Olympics (he has been carrying a mini-Olympic flame throughout his journey). You can cycle with him tonight and enjoy an exciting ride curated by the Bike Shark team. The event is organised by the Borivali-based store that offers imported bicycles and White Collar Hippie, a multi-disciplinary design studio, which works on projects around the country.
Recounting his experience so far, Conway says that he is exhausted but happy. “I chose the hottest time of the year to come but I have no complaints. This is something I have always wanted to do. The people have been very friendly and the food is amazing; I love Paneer Butter Masala,” he says.
His journey hasn’t been without glitches though, “I almost got run over by a truck in the USA. It drove into me at 80 km per hour. I had to take a break of three weeks because of it and it has brought my speed down considerably from 300 km a day to just 200 km a day. On the flip side, it also gave me a chance to experience life in India. The people were very curious about my custom-made designer bike. While I don’t know Hindi, I have managed to communicate with people,” laughs Conway.
While Conway has shot videos during his journey, a documentary crew travelled with him during his India leg. “I might release the video footage I have on the Internet or make a documentary out of it,” he reveals. Next on his bucket list are plans to teach cycling to children and cycle extensively across Africa.
Conway is attached to Africa as he grew up along the Zambezi River where he climbed trees and chased elephants out of his garden. He admits it fuelled his adventurous streak to a great extent.