Bournemouth Daily Echo, November 20th, 1999
Everest base camp, ambassadors' receptions and growing international acclaim. Dorset cyclist Cass Gilbert has experienced them all.
The 25-year-old charity fund-raiser, who set off just over a year ago to cycle across the world in a massive feat of human strength and endurance, is more than halfway home.
Cass has reached Kathmandu in Nepal after setting off from Sydney Opera House in November last year, as featured in the Echo, to cycle 21,000 kilometres home through three continents and 17 countries.
So far his efforts have raised £17,500 for the charity Children With AIDS set up in 1992 in the paediatric unit at St Mary's Hospital in London.
He has also cycled 14,000 km on his mountain bike through some of the world's most physically demanding terrain and politically sensitive areas.
Cass's next 1,000 km stretch will take him to Delhi in India where he will spend Christmas and New Year before heading off through Pakistan, Iran and on to the European leg.
His father, John, who has just returned from visiting his son in Kathmandu, said Cass was "loving every minute of it."
"He's having the most wonderful time meeting so many different people and seeing the world," said John.
"There have been numerous highlights but I think his last leg from Lhasa to Kathmandu was the greatest for him because he spent a night at Everest base camp, cycled at altitudes of 19,000 ft and crossed the Himalayas which was spectacular."
The number of people who have heard of the marathon cycle ride, called The Long Ride Home, is growing thanks largely to Cass's website on the Internet and technical support plus his regular literary contributions to travel magazines.
The world's press have also been keen to grab an interview where they can and the messages of goodwill being emailed to him grow daily.
At regular points along the way Cass has also found himself being the honorary guest at cocktail parties organised by british ambassadors in countries he has travelled through.
He has also found himself giving press conferences adn interviews about his progress.
John said: "So many people have used his website to track his progress so that cycling in Indonesia he received an email from a cycle club in Singapore who invited him to stay with them before escorting him across Malaysia.
"At Kuala Lumpur he gave a press conference heard by another cycle group who accompanied him to Thailand and he has had numerous travellers cycle a leg of the journey with him which has made a huge difference.
"He spends most of his time with backpackers as that is the best way of picking up information but he has also been meeting ambassadors so he has been mixing with fairly diverse people."
Former Bryanston School pupil Cass, from Stoke Wake, near Blandford, prepared for his marathon bike ride by working as a cycle courier in London building up his fitness and stamina levels.
But among the challenges he has had to face is carrying all his equipment and up to 15 litres of water in four panniers.
Touch wood he has not had any major mishaps although various pieces of his bike have had to be replaced and his father also went out to visit Cass armed with a case of supplies. John said: "Not only did I have all my own luggage, camera equipment and a computer but a case of bike bits and even a wheel round my neck but the bike is holding up remarkably well."
Cass is due to arrive in Trafalgar Square, London, in the summer. John said: "Cass thinks he might be in Turkey by April which will feel like the home stretch."
- Cass can be followed on his website www.CycleSydneyLondon.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made to Children with AIDS to 9 Denbigh Street, London SW1V 2HS with "Cass Gilbert - The Long Ride Home" written on the back.
© Bournemouth Daily Echo, reproduced with permission