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Alumni couple who met at St George's cycle 15,000 miles from Sydney to London

Alumni couple Matt and Clara. Alumni couple Matt and Clara.

Alumni couple Matt and Clara had been living and working in Liverpool (as a Maths teacher and orthopedic surgeon respectively) for 4 years and felt it was time for a change. Matt explains, “We both really enjoy our respective careers, but didn't want our twenties and thirties to pass us by, as we worked tirelessly to 'achieve' professionally. We were beginning to formulate some plans for a year abroad, contemplating working overseas, when we were invited to a wedding in Perth (another SGUL Alum!)

“This invitation changed everything. We decided against a year of working overseas, and instead began to plot a way to attend the wedding and travel home. We have always been interested in long distance cycling, particularly, after completing a 1000 mile ride from Toronto to New York a few years back (again, based around a George's wedding).

With the idea formed, it was just a matter of sorting the route. We decided to fly to Sydney, cycle the 3,000 miles to the wedding in Perth, and from there get to Singapore and ride home!”

We spoke to the couple about their experience on the road and the story of how they met at St George’s.

What have been the most challenging and rewarding things about the trip so far?

In a world so regularly accused of being bereft of kindness, we decided to challenge ourselves to rely entirely on the kindness of strangers for our accommodation - hopefully showing that the world is a kinder place than we often think. To this end, we have a budget of £0 for our accommodation, and with 150 days on the road, we have managed to stick to it!

This aspect of the trip has been both the most rewarding and challenging, simultaneously. Our destination at the end of each day is not fixed (I.e. by a hotel booking), which means we are free to adapt our plans to our environment and the people we meet along the way. The kindness we have encountered has seen us taken in by families in rural Vietnam, afforded free rooms in hotels in Australia, given food and accommodation in buddhist temples, slept in churches and so much more. The reception we have been given in every country we have visited so far, has been genuinely humbling.

Of course, there are times, after a 100 mile day in the sweltering heat of the Australian desert for example, when you want nothing more than to check into a double room with ensuite and AC. However, so far, every time we have really been in need, someone has been there to help. Fingers crossed this continues...

Do you have any other future sporting plans or big trips coming up?

Currently, we are exercising more than we ever have; an average day sees us on the bikes for 6-7 hours. We are keen to capitalise on this, and will use our new-found fitness to conquer an Ironman on our return... Swimming may need some work, though! 

Were you involved in any sports societies during your time at St George’s?

Absolutely! Matt was on the footy team, and was the Students’ Union president after graduating. Clara directed the fashion show, and choreographed a number of the SGUL musical productions. She also rowed and played hockey and was on the Students’ Union executive team for a few years.

How did you both meet?

We met during the fashion show one year, when Clara was directing. The story of how we met always gets a laugh, particularly if the people we are talking to have seen Matt dance...

What did you enjoy the most about studying at St George’s?

George's was an awesome place to study. Much like the rest of the people we know who studied there, we loved it. For us, the best aspect was the small student numbers, allowing you to really feel part of the community and allowing you to play sports and take part in events you weren't particularly talented in!

You can read more about Matt and Clara’s trip on their blog, outofhoursadventures.com

Alumni couple Matt and Clara. Alumni couple Matt and Clara.

Published: 13 February 2020

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