Causes

Cycle across world and inspire 100,000 kids? Super!

Mr Will Hodson, who aims to cycle around the world to inspire 100,000 children, conducts an assembly talk at United World College east campus at Tampines on Friday morning (Oct 13).ST VIDEO: SUE-ANN TAN
"Super cycling man" Will Hodson in (from left) Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques. Mr Will Hodson is in Singapore till Oct 29, after which he will co
Mr Will Hodson is in Singapore till Oct 29, after which he will continue his round-the-world journey, which is set to end in 2022. He dons a cape to remind people, especially children, that they can be heroic in their own small waysPHOTO: COURTESY OF WILL HODSON
"Super cycling man" Will Hodson in (from left) Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques. Mr Will Hodson is in Singapore till Oct 29, after which he will co
“Super cycling man” Will Hodson in Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques.PHOTO: COURTESY OF WILL HODSON
"Super cycling man" Will Hodson in (from left) Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques. Mr Will Hodson is in Singapore till Oct 29, after which he will co
“Super cycling man” Will Hodson in Malaysia, Turkey (above) and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques.PHOTO: COURTESY OF WILL HODSON
"Super cycling man" Will Hodson in (from left) Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia. To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques. Mr Will Hodson is in Singapore till Oct 29, after which he will co
“Super cycling man” Will Hodson in Malaysia, Turkey and Georgia (above). To save money, he either camps outdoors or stays with friends and in sanctuaries like temples and mosques.PHOTO: COURTESY OF WILL HODSON

In fast-paced Singapore, there are those in need - and those who go out of their way to meet those needs. This is the latest in a series on noteworthy causes that The Straits Times is spotlighting.

It is impossible to overlook British former primary school teacher Will Hodson when he cycles around Singapore.

The 40-year-old adventurer is decked out in a bright blue and red superhero outfit, complete with billowing scarlet cape.

Calling himself the "Super Cycling Man", Mr Hodson is on a bid to cycle across seven continents.

His journey started in May 2015 at Tower Bridge in London.

To date, he has cycled 35,000km across 26 countries through Europe and Central Asia.

He will be in Singapore till Oct 29 before continuing his journey, which is set to end in 2022.

"It has been my dream for more than 20 years to cycle around the world," he said. "As a teenager, I cycled across England, so I told myself if I could do one country, I could do so many more."

NO MORE WAITING

It has been my dream for more than 20 years to cycle around the world. As a teenager, I cycled across England, so I told myself if I could do one country, I could do so many more...

We always tell ourselves we can go another year, until we are old and regret it. At this age, if I ever want to go, I have to do it now.

MR WILL HODSON, a British former primary school teacher, on aiming to cycle across seven continents. SCAN TO WATCH Will Hodson talks to students in Singapore.

Mr Hodson said people can sometimes be slow in making their own dreams come true.

"We always tell ourselves we can go another year, until we are old and regret it. At this age, if I ever want to go, I have to do it now."

He dons a cape to remind people, especially children, that they can be heroic in their own small ways.

He aims to inspire 100,000 children worldwide by visiting schools.

"As a teacher, I once read this book to five-year-olds. It was about being a superhero and the message was that we can all be heroes by doing little things," he said.

"Kids always feel they can't do much, but really they're so powerful in just their daily acts of kindness."

Mr Hodson also hopes to remind people to hold on to their childhood dreams. He said: "Lots of people have ambitions when they are young and when they grow older, they think they can't do it, and those dreams are for someone else.

"I'm so inspired when I meet a child who says they dream of something large like curing cancer, and I want to tell them that one day, they can do it."

Wearing the superhero costume also has an effect on him. "You can't be in a bad mood in this suit," he said with a laugh. "In a strange way, this costume makes me want to grow to inhabit it, while also being willing to laugh at myself."

Mr Hodson also hopes to raise £100,000 (S$179,000) for charities working to help families affected by Parkinson's disease, in Britain and worldwide.

His 75-year-old father has had Parkinson's for about 20 years and Mr Hodson hopes a cure can be found. "It is such a cruel disease because it affects not only the sufferer," he said.

"My father is unsteady on his feet and sometimes freezes suddenly when he moves about, so it is also a huge strain on my 73-year-old mother, who takes care of him and ensures he doesn't fall over.

"I hope to raise money so more research can be done to treat those like him."

With these goals in mind, Mr Hodson, who is single, quit his decade-long job as a primary school teacher in South London. He sets his budget at $10 to $15 a day, hoping to cap his expenses at $50,000, excluding his stay in Antarctica.

All he needs is packed inside six bags strapped to his bicycle. There are necessities such as camping stove, a tent, a few changes of clothes, sleeping bag and toiletries. They weigh about 60kg in total.

He tries to cycle about 12 hours a day, covering about 100km, with stops in between. He camps outdoors or stays with friends - like he is doing in Singapore - and in sanctuaries, like temples and mosques.

"By living in such a basic way, I've realised we really don't need that much to be happy," Mr Hodson said. "It has also made me less spoilt. Food tastes so much better when you're hungry and I get so excited to see a proper washing machine and a towel after days without such things."

One of the challenges was cycling in winter in countries like Georgia.

"I couldn't feel my fingers and toes because it was so cold, but after an hour or two of cycling, I warmed up and it got better."

Any challenge can be conquered, he told students during an assembly at the United World College of South East Asia East Campus in Tampines last Friday.

Student Advait Veeraghanta, 15, said: "It was very powerful to see someone so passionate about a cause. His main message was that we can all make a change, no matter how small, and that itself is a big thing to hear."

Readers can visit Mr Hodson's website at http://supercyclingman.com/ to track his journey.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Cycle across world and inspire 100,000 kids? Super!'. Print Edition | Subscribe