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SANTA CRUZ – Riding more than 2,000 miles down the Pacific Highway from Canada to Mexico to help fight cancer. London resident Nicholas Brown has taken up quite the challenge.
“It’s surprising how quickly your body can adapt,” said Brown, wearing long shorts and a blue T-shirt.
Brown is not exactly the cycling type, more the business suit kind, taking the bus to work every day. When he left Vancouver on April 24, he was covering 20 miles a day, he said. But trail fitness has eventually started to pay off. These days, the British office worker pedals up to 60 miles on his blue touring bicycle without ever getting out of breath. And does it while carrying 65 pounds of camping gear in his orange saddlebags.
A corporate communication employee for Shell Oil Co., Brown said he used to daydream in front of television adventure and outdoor shows.
“I’ve always thought to myself: ‘Could I do that? Do I have enough stamina?” said Brown with his typical high-toned British accent. “The hardest thing with this trip was the actual decision, to say ‘yes, I’m going to do this.”
Brown, 40, finally took a leap of faith this spring. And when he did, he instantly thought of a cause to assist: raising funds for British charity Cancer Research UK.
“Three of my late grandparents were diagnosed with cancer,” said Brown, who lost his paternal grandmother to the disease when he was a child. “More recently, my father’s partner, Margaret, was also diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Given medical treatment during the early stages of her cancer, Margaret’s cancer is now in remission.
“This hope does not come for free,” Brown said. “Improvements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment are costly and time-consuming and cannot be taken for granted.”
Through his 2,000-mile trip from Vancouver to Tijuana, Brown hopes to collect at least 2,000 British pounds or about $3,100, he said. So far he has raised more than $2,000, relying only on donations from the people met along the way or from those who heard about his project on the Internet.
“I’m supporting the cost of this trip myself,” Brown said. “Any money that’s given to me, I donate it to Cancer Research UK.”
Brown’s journey has lived up to his expectations. The London resident was stunned by the beauty of Washington’s mountains, such as Mount Rainier, along with Oregon’s infinite white-sand beaches.
“I’m also surprised with how generous in spirit the U.S. people are,” said Brown, recalling an adventure featuring an Oregon man inviting him into his family’s house to share a meal, spend the night, and fire specimens of his gun collection in their backyard.
Brown’s amazement has even become stronger since he reached California and left Highway 101 to follow Highway 1, he said.
“It’s a far more dramatic road and scenery,” Brown said. “Every 10 miles, I find myself stopping to take a picture.”
Pedaling Highway 1, Brown arrived in Santa Cruz around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Beams of sunset light were shining down on the surfers populating West Cliff’s waves, he said.
“I’ve never surfed before but I really like this idea of this whole surfing culture you have,” Brown said, appreciating the laid-back atmosphere of Santa Cruz. “People just seem to have it all here.”
ON THE WEB
For information on Nicholas Brown’s ‘Office boy on a Bike’ project, go to www.cycletheuspacifichighway.com. To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/pacific-highway. All proceeds will benefit Cancer Research UK.