James Ketchell plans to cycle around the world and inspire youngsters to travel the road not taken
Thirty-one-year-old Briton James Ketchell always dreamt of big adventure. And he tracked it down on his cycle. A world cycle tour, which will take him 18,000 miles in six months brought James to the city. He has many other feats to his claim. He has rowed a boat from La Gomera Island, off the coast of North Africa, to Antigua in the Caribbean. He has climbed the Everest and reached the top of the world. And now he has undertaken to cycle round the world.
Spirit of adventure
James says about his spirit of adventure - “when you push your comfort zone, a door of opportunities opens for you.” On this trip he is sharing his tale of endurance with school children, motivating and inspiring them to take the road not travelled.
The start of James’ adventurous lifestyle was with a nasty accident riding his motor bike. While in hospital he vowed to convert the negative into a positive. He began dreaming of doing something different. For the lack of a partner to come along with him on his boat trip, which he planned, he set sail, all by himself, from North Africa. He rowed single-handedly and relentlessly. “As far as I was not going in circles, I carried on. The sea would some day give way to land,” he says about his tough but memorable 110 days, four hours and four minutes in the Atlantic. James’ firm belief to carry on notwithstanding odds is a trait that led him into bigger adventures. He met a man, soon after his boat trip, who had climbed the Everest five times. Inspired James too wished to do so. In six months he organised sponsorships driven by his belief to “keep going and you will reach where you want to go. I created my own luck, I think so,” he says about the way things fell in place. On May 16, 2011, as he stood a few steps away from the highest peak in the world, the summit, he realised “that what one perceives as difficult is not actually so.” But he also realised that he had completed only half the journey. He had to climb down. James fell ill and it would not have been possible to be alive but for his Sherpa, Dorjee.
By now James had rowed across the Atlantic, climbed the Everest and once again he began dreaming of his next big adventure – cycling round the world.
In preparation he cycled across America in 2012, a journey of 2,700 miles in 22 days. That prepared him for his current challenge.
James plans backwards. He aims to finish the current journey on January 11, his birthday, which is a Saturday and he can have a party with family and friends. Much as his mother wishes her son to “grow up” his father is very supportive. A marketing executive in an IT firm in London, James began this journey from Greenwich Park, the time meridian and is clocking, so far, as per schedule. He has cycled across Europe, skipped Afghanistan and Pakistan for lack of permission, faced curious mobs in North India and is in Kochi to move on to his next leg that starts from Bangkok.
He has had a few intimidating incidents in India but he has taken it as big adventure. “India is a funny place,” he says. He nearly rode into a cow, in Bikaner he was chased down by two watchmen with sticks, a mob in Nagpur was so curious that they frightened him….
On his CycloCross Bike Trek he travels light. A small tent, laptop, water, phone, sleeping bag, torch are just some of the essentials that he carries. Of all the three varied adventures James finds cycling to be mentally the toughest, while climbing Everest to be a test of physical endurance. Rowing the Atlantic was extremely enjoyable, he says.
On his 53rd day of cycling James is taking a break in Kochi. He will be interacting with local bike clubs - Happy Bikers and Cochin Bikers - and ride with them to a local school where he will narrate to the children his unusual story of grit and courage.