Hello. I’m Martin Hewell, 26, from Lancashire and the Co-Founder of The Zuri Project Uganda.
Starting on the 22nd April, I will be independently cycling approximately 3600km from Athens to Amsterdam to fundraise for the locally led development projects that we support in South West Uganda that tackle multi-dimensional poverty, malnutrition, food insecurity, access to health care, education and sport opportunities plus many more.
I guess I’ve always been slightly adventurous; embracing the unknown rather than fearing it and having an innate ability to respond to any of the adventurous ideas that arise in my head with, “why not?”. Therefore, it’s not surprising that my insatiable appetite to explore has led me to a number of unusual, unforgettable experiences over the years and now to this epic cycling challenge.
Despite taking on some random, or you could say life changing, challenges over the last few years (mainly referring to listening to James Blunt’s Goodbye my lover on repeat for hours in a 50 degrees tent in Zambia), I have to say this has to be the toughest challenge I’ve ever planned. I haven’t done a solo challenge before and I’ve always wanted to take on a fundraiser that will make a difference… and not just a difference to my backside and the way I walk in the future… but a difference to a community in which I’ve lived and to a cause where I know that the money will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people less fortunate than ourselves.
“You’re crazy”, “You are a niche guy” and “Oh… Wow. You’ve actually managed to ‘out do yourself’ again!” are not uncommon replies when people hear about my trip. And I don’t think it’s actually sunk in yet what I’m about to take on. Anyway, people have asked whether I am ready? Good question… Well, I am not a cyclist for a start. The furthest I’ve ever cycled is 25 miles. I only bought a bike last week. I’m currently in the process of buying all the gear… the revealing Peter Pan tights, the bright green reflective tops that accentuate my eyes and my new best friend aka my padded seat, so, yeah, you could say I’m almost ready.
The route… To be honest I haven’t planned every single little detail. I like to go with the flow and make decisions based on how I feel. Plus, there are many factors to consider like weather, road conditions, bike condition, energy levels etc. And I guess it all depends on how fast my little legs can cycle and also the status of my backside. But what I do know is that the overview of my route will take me through 10 countries. I will head north from Greece, into Albania, then along the coast of Montenegro, briefly pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina, onto a tough, lengthy climb through Croatia, through to Slovenia, then over the Eastern Alps in Austria, heading West across the South of Germany, touching the North East of Belgium and then onto the last stretch into Amsterdam in The Netherlands. In terms of duration, I plan to cycle on average about 60 – 100 km a day depending on the gradient and head winds, so it should take around 50 days. But I am hoping to attain some extra motivation from you guys when I manage to get on the internet to see the donation cumulative total and also when my partner plans to visit me once or twice somewhere along the journey to bring me my beloved cereal and Nutella.
About the charity…
In summary, The Zuri Project Uganda engages with local people to collaborate, co-design and implement development projects that the community feel are most needed in a variety of areas such as sustainable agriculture, health, sport, education, nutrition, female sensitisation and income generating projects. Therefore, I hope that this challenge can raise over £2,000 towards these projects, and in particular, towards the construction and resourcing of the first ever Secondary School in the village and the resourcing of a deprived health centre. Thus far, I am not being sponsored (but hoping to be – so, if you know of anyone or any business that could be interested, then please get in touch), I am doing this alone on a very tight budget and it’s 50+ days of pain, so I really hope to hit, and surpass, the fundraising target money for a worthy cause, so please get involved in any way possible! Any support would be much appreciated from good luck messages to donations to sharing the blog to business sponsorship… Don’t be shy!
Naturally there will be some nerves about embarking on such a journey, especially as I will be cycling alone for the whole trip, wild camping in my tent, cooking my own food along the way and probably hating life wondering why I thought it would be a good idea to cram a lifetimes worth of cycling into 50 days all with a behind like a baboon; but to be honest, I am actually excited. I can’t wait to start a challenge that I know will push me to my limits physically and mentally. And more importantly, I can’t wait to see the difference the money raised will make. So, yeah, why not?!
I will try to give you an update of my progress, my mental wellbeing and my chaffage every few days via this blog, so don’t forget to follow.
If you would like to support my epic challenge and The Zuri Project Uganda, it would be much appreciated, and you can do so here… https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6164
Thank you very much!
To find out more about The Zuri Project Uganda check out the links below…