The Hairy Handlebars: Six months on the road

Hairy Handlebars - six months on the road

In March 2019, the Hairy Handlebars set off from our London HQ, marking the start of our #BreakTheCycle campaign and an epic 6,000-mile journey – all to raise £30,000 for charities Movember and the Ian Williams Foundation and help stop men dying too young.

We caught up with the magnificently moustachioed duo ahead of their arrival in Tokyo to hear how their travels have treated them and what they’ve learnt.

How far has the experience matched your expectations?

Ben: “There’s two things that I wasn’t expecting. The first is to see just how populated the world is – I thought that we’d be alone for long periods of time but that hasn’t been the case. As a result, I’ve also learnt that you can always find help. From helping to fix the bike, to being offered food and a place to stay, we’ve found that people are always on hand. I didn’t think that this sort of kindness was so widespread.”

George: “I think that I was more focused on the physical side of things before we set off, but we’ve both come to realise that our bodies are far more able than we give them credit for.”

“So, rather than being the grinding physical challenge that we anticipated, it’s been much more of a mental trial. There’s been some really tough days where we’ve had to get up and ride through endless, monotonous terrain, and that’s posed challenges that we hadn’t expected.”

Tell us about some of the people you’ve met

Ben: “In Bulgaria, we met a refugee from Afghanistan. He decided to cycle with us for about 10km, sharing his story and how he’d come to Europe. It was an inspiring experience and really motivated us to keep going and make the most of the opportunities that we encounter on the trip.”

What’s been your most memorable moment?

George: “One moment that jumps out is our first night in Georgia – we were climbing up through the hills looking for somewhere to camp and were taken in by a family. They gave us food, took us to a nearby waterfall and then proceeded to get us exceedingly drunk on their homemade cognac! They didn’t have a lot to give, but they gave us everything they could. It was an experience that I’ll never forget.”

Ben: “The Uzbek wedding has to be a key highlight! We were walking down a street in Bukhara, Uzbekistan one evening and were swept up by a passing parade of men. This turned out be the ‘Stag do’ element of a wedding! We were then invited to the ceremonial breakfast the next morning and the official wedding party later that night.”

“It was an incredible experience. Where else in the world would you be swept up and invited to a wedding off the street?!”

Celebrating our 10,000km milestone in Hami, China

Trying out new looks in Tbilisi, Georgia

A spectacular stop in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

We met Bear Grylls in Beijing!

And, what’s been the biggest challenge

Ben: “Riding through the desert in Uzbekistan was tough. We had stretches of up to 140km where we were unable to re-supply our water or food, so we often had to carry up to 10 litres of water each under the scorching sun.”

“While the physical challenge was difficult, keeping motivated as we cycled for two weeks along long, straight desolate and difficult roads was the biggest challenge. However, we learnt a lot from the experience, and (in hindsight) it was really rewarding to get through that part of the journey.”  

What do you think you’ll take away from the experience?

Ben: “Be willing to ask for help when I need it. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like I need to do everything myself and viewing a need for help as a sign of weakness or a lack of independence.”

“Doing a trip like this has completely changed my view because you have to rely on help from others at times. I’ve realised that it’s so important to be able to open yourself up and be willing to accept a helping hand when it’s needed, because we all face moments where we can’t do it alone.”

What advice would you give to someone considering their own adventure?

George: “The biggest thing is to just commit yourself. You can always find reasons to put something off, so telling other people that you’re going to do something makes it a lot easier to take the plunge. Once you’re committed, you’ll find that everything else will fall into place.”

Ben: “I agree with George - the idea of doing something is usually far more daunting than actually doing it. You just need to have the bravery to make a start and the persistence to carry on. There’s a lot of adventure to be had – so my advice is to get out there and get as much experience as possible.”

Help support the Hairy Handlebars in their mission to #BreakTheCycle by donating here

Want to join the adventure? Follow the last leg of the Mo Bros’ journey on Instagram