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September 2009
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Oli Broom: Why I’m Cycling to the Ashes

September 24th, 2009 by TWC in England, Test cricket, The Ashes

Like many life-affirming moments, it happened in a pub. One Friday evening, after a few drinks in my favourite local, I announced to a few friends that I planned to cycle around the world. Laughter… followed by silence, perhaps as they saw that I was serious… and then more laughter as they realised the absurdity.

They all knew me too well. My lack of any sort of savings, complete absence of cycle-touring experience and famously spindly legs were all offered as reasons that I wouldn’t begin such a mammoth journey, let alone finish it.  They also didn’t believe that I could cope without playing cricket for a year. But they didn’t know that my mind was made up. After six years behind a desk in London fulfilling very few of my childhood dreams, it was time to tackle some.

So here I am, a year later, and about to set off. I have pored over maps, spent hours on the phone begging unsuspecting marketing directors to sponsor an idiot with a bike who they have never met, and managed to persuade my closest family and friends that cycling solo for 14 months, far from being irresponsible and dangerous, will be a journey of discovery, and a worthwhile way to spend the next year-and-a-bit.

Initially, I planned on simply jumping on my bike and circumnavigating the globe – when I say “simply,” I refer to jumping on the bike (easy) rather than circumnavigating the globe (difficult). But as I immersed myself in planning, I realised that I was going to miss the next Ashes series in Australia. How could I not see England win the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time since the 80s? Suddenly it dawned on me. I wanted to cycle off into the distance in October 2009. The next Ashes series was due to start at the end of November 2010. My extensive research told me that it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that I could cycle to Brisbane in 14 months. From that moment I was Cycling To The Ashes – playing, promoting or teaching cricket in every country as I pedalled to Brisbane (doing my little bit to spread the cricketing gospel), and trying to raise £100,000 for The Lord’s Taverners and the British Neurological Research Trust.

As anyone who has done a similar trip will testify, it isn’t easy getting people to buy into an expedition like this, but I have been amazed and delighted that so many kind people have offered their encouragement, help and support. I’ve been on TMS with Aggers, BBC London with Steve Bunce and Radio in Brisbane and Perth, and now have a fantastic schedule of engagements – from visiting the graves of famous cricketers in Belgium, to teaching cricket to Croatian school children and training with IPL teams in India. I hope these will not only provide opportunities to rest my saddle-sore posterior, but allow me to discover a new cricketing landscape. Did you know that cricket was played in Belgium as early as 1810, that the Hungarian, Slovenian and Bulgarian cricketing scenes are thriving, and Thailand hosts one of the largest amateur cricket competitions in the world?

On 10th October 2009 I leave from Lord’s and head to Dover with a few friends before they, very sensibly, jump on a train back to London, and I take a ferry to Dunkerque and the unknown. I will pedal 25,000km and camp in countless fields in various landscapes in up to 30 countries. All being well, and assuming I survive the Turkish winter, the dry Saharan summer, the chaos of India and the unforgiving Australian outback, I will pedal into The Gabba in Brisbane on the morning of the first Ashes Test of 2010, and watch our boys skittle out the Aussies for not a lot before going 1-0 up. Now that’s something to look forward to!

You can follow Oli Broom’s progress here in regular blog posts throughout the next 14 months, and on his expedition website at If you or your company would like to be part of sponsoring Oli’s trip, contact him at [email protected].

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | No Comments »

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