Three Wheels Around Oz


This story appeared on the website News.com.au.

(I discovered it on April 11th, 2002)

Disabled Brit plans ride round Oz

A DISABLED Briton is planning a 15,000km lone tricycle ride around Australia.

Conrad Evans, 27, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and right hemiplegia, plans to raise money for medical charity Action Research.

He will be carrying up to 50kg of supplies with him and will not have a support vehicle, but hopes he will be shown hospitality by people he meets along the way.

The ride will be about double the length of his last fundraising ride across the United States in 1999.

And while he shares the typical English tourist's fears of Australian snakes, spiders and crocodiles, he has no doubts about what the biggest danger facing him during his 10-month ride.

"Road trains," Evans said.

"They're probably my biggest hazard. But as long as they're aware that I'm there it should be okay."

As far as wildlife goes, he plans to take simple precautions - particularly with crocodiles.

"I won't sit too close to the water, I won't camp next door to it," he said.

"In America, I had a coyote steal all my food," he added.

"You learn very quickly which animals are curious and which ones are more frightened of you than you are of them."

Evans plans to cycle about 100km a day, pitching his tent at night in the long stretches between towns.

As part of his preparation, he is reading American travel writer Bill Bryson's book Down Under, which he says is giving him an insight into the type of people who travel the road in Australia.

But while he expects, like Bryson, to find the locals generous and hospitable, he says he will not rely on it.

"You never rely on it, you take it all as it comes. If you don't expect anything you're never disappointed," Evans said in London today.

"I'll have my tent, I'll have enough food and water to carry me through to wherever I need to go and I'll take it from there."

Evans was born with cerebral palsy and right hemiplegia, a condition which has left his right hand virtually useless and his right foot three sizes smaller than his left.

He developed epilepsy as a child but says it doesn't affect him too badly.

He went to ordinary schools and does not see himself as disabled.

"It's never stopped me from doing something. With anything you want to do, there's nothing that stops you apart from yourself," he said.

Indeed, the only thing he cannot do is ride a bike - so he rides the three-wheeler instead.

Evans will start his ride from the steps of the Sydney Opera House on March 11 and hopes to return to Sydney in January 2003.