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Adventurer goes round the world on two wheels for WaterAid

Zac Clayton completes a round-the-world cycling trip, raising more than £10K for WaterAid.

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22 Mar 2013 | UK
A crowd of wellwishers outside Buckingham Palace holding the wateraid.org banner

Zac Clayton, 23 from Wolverhampton, has narrowly avoided poisonous snakes and warzones to complete a round-the-world cycling trip and raising thousands for WaterAid in the process.

The Durham University graduate was greeted on his return by a party of friends and family in front of Buckingham Palace on 23 March, one day after World Water Day. 

He spent more than 10 months cycling 20,000 miles through Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. 

Zac's passion for life on two wheels began after several short cycling trips through Europe, evolving into a round-the-world trip for charity.

He said: "A serious outdoor challenge has always been a lifelong ambition of mine – something that really pushed me and challenged me in a way that normal life couldn't."

Zac has so far raised more than £10,000 for WaterAid's work to improve access to safe water and sanitation in the world's poorest countries. His journey also helped bring home the impact of life without access to these vital services.

"In the UK, clean water and sanitation is something we take for granted. Cycling through less developed countries, where sourcing water is a constant worry and sanitation infrastructure is under-developed, really brought home to me the importance of the work WaterAid does."

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive for WaterAid, said: "Congratulations to Zac for completing his impressive round-the-world adventure, and many thanks for his fantastic fundraising efforts. I am sure his experiences have brought home what it is like not to have water on tap and a long way to go to find a decent toilet. His fabulous efforts will transform lives."

As a keen cyclist, it wasn't the fitness Zac felt he needed training for, but the mental challenge: “Cycling on your own, through some often desolate, unfamiliar and unpopulated places definitely requires being in a certain frame of mind! I've always found that if I'm in the right zone mentally, the legs take care of the big kilometres themselves.

"I have faced a massive range of challenges. The deserts were tough – weeks in empty and unchanging landscapes with little to occupy you but the rationing of water can play with your sanity a bit."

On his journey, Zac was also nearly mugged in Turkey, missed cycling into a warzone in Tajikistan by a matter of days, got hit by a motorcycle in China, had a lethal snake try to get in his tent in Australia, and faced various mechanical problems. "However life wouldn't be interesting if everything went to plan," he says.

"My highlight from my journey is probably Iran; it's a country that gets a lot of negative media attention, which completely overshadows the incredible openness and kindness of its people. I lost count of the times I was invited into their homes, to meet families, be cooked dinner and offered a bed for the night.

"Though for the most consistently amazing scenery, I would have to plump for New Zealand. It's a non-stop blur of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, lakes, pristine coastline and volcanoes that made for some gorgeous cycling. It is pretty hilly so perhaps not the easiest!"

On his return home, Zac is looking forward to seeing his friends and family, but doesn't think it'll be long before he gets itchy feet again. In fact, he is already planning his next challenge!