Charlie Condell, 18, claims title of youngest person to achieve feat unassisted
Steven MorrisMon 11 Mar 2019 12.34 GMT
A British teenager has claimed the title of the youngest person to cycle around the world solo and unassisted after an eight-month-long odyssey during which he faced challenges including fierce headwinds, roads riddled with potholes, angry lorry drivers and snakes.
At one point, 18-year-old Charlie Condell’s gap year circumnavigation looked to have veered completely off track when his cherished bicycle – which he had named Colin – was stolen in Australia.
He also just about avoided disaster in the shape of road accidents, storms and the odd existential crisis when he found himself alone in vast landscapes questioning why he had set out on such a testing adventure.
On Monday, Condell cycled through the south-west of England heading back to his home city of Bristol, having visited 20 countries and covered 18,000 miles. There was one final effort: the Ashton Court climb up to his finishing point at the Clifton suspension bridge.
Another British man, Tom Davies, is believed to have previously held the record for the youngest person to cycle around the world unassisted. He was 19 when he completed his journey in 2015.
“I’ve loved so many different aspects of this trip,” Condell said. “From the beautiful mountains to the pristine beaches, the people, the culture and the food. I’ve loved growing as a person.”
But undoubtedly, the low point for Condell, a former pupil at Clifton college in Bristol, was when he woke up in Townsville, Queensland, on day 103 to discover his bike, camping gear, passport and other equipment had vanished. All he was left with was the shirt and shorts he stood up in and one bag.
He wrote a defiant message to his supporters: “I do love Australia, and one bastard isn’t going to change that … Have a great day with whatever you’re doing, and don’t stop – ever!”
His story made headlines around the world, and a new bicycle and equipment was sourced. It may have been a blessing in disguise. Since that day, well-wishers and bicycle companies lined up to provide him with help, such as high-tech gear. Consular staff helped him get a new passport and he pedalled on.
Condell’s blog of the trip is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. In eastern Europe, his sunglasses were stolen (not a trivial problem when you are being blasted by insects as you ride) and he was clipped by an SUV.