Tribune News Service, from Pratiba Chauban
May 3 2000
Translating dreams into reality could be difficult, especially if one sets a task of covering 70 countries on a bike, but 35 year old Simon Milward remains undeterred in his mission even after a couple of mishaps.
Having been through 15 countries, Milward, a British, is circumnavigating the world on a motorcycle to raise funds for charity. "Eversince I started riding I cherished the dream of going around the world on a bike. But making it a mission has definitely given me more happiness," he sdaid on his arrival here yesterday.
Milward's millennium motorcycle ride, which began on 1 January 2000 in England, is expected to take 18 to 24 months, covering a distance of over 19,000km. He has already been through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia the UAE and Pakistan. From here he hopes to enter Nepal after visiting Varanasi and Agra.
"In 1984 I went round the USA with my brother on a bike and I have been around Europe. But this is the first time that I have attempted something this big," he said. Having set the target of raising one lakh dollars, Milward is happy that so far he has been able to meet the targets set for each country. After raising 8,000 dollars in Europe, his target in India is 5,000 dollars.
"It has been a very rich experience with people being hospitable and extending whatever help they can. I've had to cope with a series of accidents, but at the same time I received a marriage proposal in Cairo," he said.
It was while lying in a hospital bed in Belgium after an accident that he thought of those who could not afford medical help. "It is so painful to see children in Africa dying because they do not receive vaccinations and other medecins", he lamented.
The money raised by him will go to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Riders for Health (RfH), an organisation that offers training and technical education to people in Africa and which uses bikes to deliver medecins to difficult areas.
"Four wheelers cost a lot and are expensive to run and the public transport, cycling or walking is unsuitable. But well-trained riders using appropriate motorcycles in a well-managed system can improve delivery by 400%," he observed.
Interestingly, Milward is on a hand-made bike. In fact 95 per cent of the bike is made with parts donated by different suppliers. The bike's fuel tank is designed to hold 45 litres of petrol, the biggest designed for a bike so far. Amojng the main sponsors are Harley Davidson and Honda.
Milward is the Secretary General of the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations based in Brussels. "I felt it was time to doi something useful for humanitarian aid before I settled down", said Milward, whose 20 month sabattical is yet to take him to over 50 countries.