Published: 00:01, 21 January 2017
Having agreed to it on just their second date, former Dover Grammar School for Girls pupil Helen Clarkson and her fiance, Mike Langridge, are soon to start an around the world cycling challenge.
Medical lab assistant Helen, 27, and Edinburgh-born Mike, 30, a solicitor, met in January last year thanks to dating app Tinder.
Following a successful first date, they agreed to a second – meeting in a cafe on the south side of Glasgow where they now live.
Scroll down for video
It was there that they decided to cycle the world together and in just three months they will be off.
Helen said: “Mike’s profile said that he wanted to cycle around the world.
“It’s something I have read a lot of books about and so we began talking about people who had done it.
"It always seemed quite unattainable but when we met we said, ‘What’s stopping us?’ and decided to do it, on just our second date.”
After quitting their jobs, the couple will leave on Tuesday, April 4, cycling from Glasgow to Newcastle where they’ll catch a ferry to Amsterdam
They’ll then pedal to Copenhagen, down to Helsinki, through eastern Europe to Turkey, across to Georgia and Azerbaijan, go along the Pamir Highway, enter China, travel to Vietnam and through south east Asia until they reach Jakarta.
They will then take their first flight to Perth, cycling the width of Australia and the length of New Zealand. Another flight will transport them to Los Angeles and they’ll keep pedaling until they reach Yosemite National Park where they’ll tie the knot.
Mike’s friend, minister Sandra Moon, will marry them in a 200 dollar ceremony, which will be sealed with rings that they made last week at CreatStudio in Faversham.
After a day off, they’ll jump back on their self-made bikes, cycling into Canada and back into the US at Boston.
Their last flight will be to Lisbon before the final stretch back to Glasgow, returning around August next year. Helen, whose parents Ian and Rose Clarkson live in Dover Road, Deal, said: “I don’t think it will feel real until we reach Amsterdam.”
But the challenge isn’t just a dream come true for the couple, they’re also doing it to raise money and awareness of mental health issues – having both recovered from depression through cycling.
In December 2015, after moving to Glasgow six months before, Helen had a breakdown.
Her doctor put her on anti-depressants, her family supported her through counselling and she had a month off work. She said: “It had been really hard to make friends. It was really lonely.”
She has cycled before, covering 250 miles from London to Paris in 2014 in aid of the British Heart Foundation, and 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2015.
Mike, an avid cyclist for about seven years, completed the west coast of the States in 2014.
He said: “Our message is about the long-term benefits of being outside and exercising.”
With their leaving date looming, the couple have been training hard. On their trip they will be cycling about 60 miles a day through varying heats, humidities, altitudes and terrains.
Helen said: We’re only taking five bags each. We’ll be packing antibiotics, life straws so we can drink out of puddles if needs be and a stove that can cook pretty much anything.”
The couple also need to find room for a tent, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, video camera and clothes. Limited space means they can only take two outfits but thanks to sponsor Findra merino wool sport clothing, who make clothing that doesn’t hold smells, they’re not worried.
Thanks has been given to their other sponsors Unilabs, Cotterell’s & Co and Cycle Hack.
Helen said: “We’re on the look out for further corporate sponsors in return for advertising on our website, videos and clothes.”