A CYCLIST who travelled more than 12,000 km on a round-the-world charity ride had to turn back after visa problems meant he was unable to reach his intended destination, Beijing.
Rob Brown, from Darlington, set off from Big Ben, in London, in July last year and has raised £4,500 for the International Childcare Trust, which works with children in Africa.
Mr Brown, 32, arrived safely back in the UK on Monday (January 21), having made it as far as Korla, in China’s Xinjiang Province – 2,100 miles short of the capital.
His ride came to an abrupt end on Thursday (January 17), when he was unable to extend his Chinese visa.
He said: “I got to Korla to extend my visa, when I went to the public security bureau they told me they had made a mistake when giving me my original visa and had given me a non-tourist visa, which is not extendable.
“The option they suggested - to travel to Pakistan as being the nearby country to apply for a new Chinese visa - was a bit drastic and getting a visa for Pakistan is quite difficult anyway.
“The distance covered from London to Korla is 7,580 miles or 12,198km.
“It is disappointing not to be able to get the visa extended, as I had my sights on getting to Beijing, but nevertheless it’s been a blast.
“I’ve met some great people on the way – their generosity and humour have been amazing.”
Mr Brown has been reunited with his partner, Julie Robinson, after six months apart, save for a week together in Turkey back in September.
He has said a big thank-you to everyone who has sponsored him.
Asked about the closing stages of his challenge, Mr Brown said: “Coming to Osh, in Kyrgyzstan, felt like the last city on earth.
“The depths of winter were setting in, China felt so close yet so far away the, from Osh to the Chinese border was the most mountainous terrain of the ride.
“Spotting a World Food Programme 4x4 on the pass, I got a feeling then how far from home I was.
“The temperature got down to -20, but I was fine with extra layers on.
“I found the feet were taking the brunt of the cold and sometimes had to jump off and walk with the bike.
“The people of Kyrgyzstan were amazing, they’d sometimes spot you from the roadside and wave you in for a cup of tea.”