An Interview with the Intrepid Globe Trotting Unicyclist Ed Pratt February 2015
Curry Rivel Man Plans Round the World Trip -- With A Difference
Follow Ed on his website
You can also follow Ed on Twitter @WorldUnicycle and 'Like' my Facebook Page www.facebook.com/MrEdPratt
Edward Pratt 19, lives with his parents in the village, he finished school last summer and like many young people decided to take some time out before starting work.
Ed has an undoubted skill with a camera and has been involved with the Curry Rivel News since he was 14 taking photos of village events. Another of Ed's hobbies is cycling but unlike most of us who find two wheels the perfect number on a bike Ed has rejected the two wheeler in favour of a unicycle which he will be using for an amazing trip which he embarks on in March. Here he reveals all about the trip and his mode of transport.
When did you start unicycling?
I learnt over the 2012 Christmas holidays, so just over 2 years ago. Since then I've been hooked and it's definitely become a bit of an obsession.
Is it as difficult as it looks?
It's really just like any other type of skill, the more you practice the easier it becomes. Initially I found it close to impossible. I'd get on it, using a wall for support, try to pedal and fall off instantly. But with persistence, eventually after about 3 weeks I could just about wobble up and down our lane. Now though, 2 years on, the difficulty doesn't really come from the act of staying balanced, but from the physical demand of riding long distances. Having said that I do still occasionally fall off if I'm not paying attention — which can be embarrassing!
Are there many other unicyclists out there who don't work in the circus?
Don't mention the 'C' word, unicyclists take offence to that association! Yes, there are thousands of unicyclists (that have nothing to do with the circus) all over the world, doing everything from trials (jumping over stuff), to mountain unicycling (going off-road), to road unicycling. The community is actually pretty large, but we are very spread out. I look forward to meeting and riding with as many as possible throughout my journey.
When are you leaving and which countries will you be visiting?
I'm leaving on the 14th of March this year! The first leg is to travel east across to Turkey. The countries I'll be visiting in Europe are France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. From there, providing nothing has gone terribly wrong, the second leg will be Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. I then plan to cycle through China for the third leg, onto Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia for the fourth. From there I will fly to Perth, Australia for the fifth leg to Sydney. After that is New Zealand (6th leg), USA (7th leg) and then the last bit (8th leg) through Portugal, Spain, France and then home.
It sounds pretty crazy when you say it all out like that, but by thinking about it in sections the journey becomes more manageable and a lot less daunting. You can find a detailed map of my route on my website (see end).
Why did you decide to take on this challenge?
I needed a focus. At the end of my last year of Sixth Form College, most of my friends were planning to do the University thing (which is great if that's what you want to do and you know what you want to study), but that kind of further education never really appealed to me, so I started thinking about what else I could do. I wanted to travel and I enjoyed unicycling, so why not combine the two. People cycle around the world on bicycles all the time, so what's to stop a unicyclist?
Is this a first?
Yes, nobody has done it before. If I'm successful my ride will be a world first.
How much training have you done to prepare you for this epic trip?
Since buying the road unicycle over a year ago I have covered almost 2,500 miles on it. Last month I completed my first 100 miles in a day ride and I am just getting out riding as often as I can. In February, as a small test piece for the world ride, I plan on cycling up to Lancaster via friends' Universities. I'm calling it the 'Uni Uni Ride'!
How did your family receive the news of your plans?
They were very supportive. They understand that this is something that I am doing and have been an enormous help with all the preparations.
How long do you think it will take
The ride isn't about getting around as quickly as possible (I estimate it 18 months), but about experiencing and engaging with the countries I pass. I will be camping as much as possible to give me the flexibility of where to sleep and also drastically cut down on accommodation costs. The sleeping bag, cooking stove and everything else will be carried in 2 custom made panniers that attach front and back of the unicycle.
Tell us about your chosen charity — School in a Bag.
Globally, there are millions of underprivileged children deprived of the essential resources to help them learn due to poverty and disasters. According to UNICEF figures, almost one fifth of the world's child population will never attend school.
On an individual basis, an opportunity to learn and an education for these children could be their lifeline to a future out of poverty — on a world scale, educating the future generation is a key force towards human development and global stability.School in a Bag (SIAB) is an initiative run by the UK registered charity The Piers Simon Appeal. The concept of School in a Bag was born in late 2009 following a collaboration project to send School Bags to orphan children in Swaziland, Africa.
School in a Bag is a simple solution created to help poor, orphan, vulnerable and disaster affected children throughout the world.
Over 42 thousand bags have been delivered so far since its foundation in 2009.
A typical SchoolBag contains: 10 pencils, 10 biro pens, 12 colouring pencils, a maths set, a ruler, a pencil case, 3 exercise books (line/square/plain) a water bottle and a lunch box containing a plate and a spork. Theseenable a child to write, draw, colour, calculate, express themselves and, above all, learn. Each SchoolBag delivered to a child will give hope to his or her future and has the potential to transform their life.
Donating £15 will deliver one SchoolBag to one child. If you would like to donate, please head on over to my Virgin Money Giving page and help me send 500 SchoolBagschildren throughout the world.
If you would like to donate to School in a Bag you can by going to the 'Donate' section of my website or by going to this link: virginmoneygiving.com/worldunicycletour
How can we follow your progress?
For more info/links you can go to my website www.worldunicycletour.com
You can also follow me on Twitter @WorldUnicycle and 'Like' my Facebook Page www.facebook.com/MrEdPratt
St Andrews Church
URC Church, Wiltown, TA10 0JF