STEVEN White from Lanchester, County Durham, is cycling around the world in aid of MIND.

How did the challenge come about?

The concept of cycling around the world first came to me at the age of 16 whilst on holiday in the South of France; cycling solo all day, every day I experienced France and its challenging terrain – cols and cowbells in this case. From there I guess I partnered up with the bike. And rather like associating music to a place, the bike did exactly that for me, in that my surroundings were viewed differently from the perspective of a bike. When cycling, it’s 'what’s around the next bend' that drives me and what better way to live and to view life? It’s the unknown that excites me, its opportunities and possibilities – bringing with it new challenges, new perspectives and the potential to reach new heights. I think from an early age everyone has a pipe dream, something they see themselves aspiring to. Sadly however, many people let life and other factors sway them from attaining their dream and settle for less. So, this is me, following my heart for something I’ve always wanted to do and believe I can do. Go Be You is my motto. In addition, my belief in the health benefits of exercise led me to the charity MIND, for which I am raising funds. I have a target of £8,000. What could be more fitting since this challenge is a test of the mind and body?

What do your family think about the challenge?

My parents respect my need to embark upon this challenge and are very proud of me for attempting such an ambitious challenge and for such a worthy cause. But I have to be honest; this is all they’ve ever heard me talk about for years, so it was a long time coming. I’m close to my family and wider family so setting off will be hard. The Norwegians have a saying for leaving home on an adventure; it’s called ‘The doorstep mile’ i.e. the hardest mile is setting off from your home. I think this will definitely be the case for me. However, once I’m in the routine of it all, it will be amazing to see what’s around the bend.

Why is it important you are doing this solo and unsupported?

It’s important to me to do this solo as it’s my dream. Over the past two years I’ve been working for a company called Holiday Property Bond. During this time I was placed at various sites all over Europe where I worked both as part of a team but largely solo. Consequently, this experience developed my bug for travel and in general my overall self-confidence. Essentially however, I’m doing this challenge unsupported because I don’t want to lose focus of my goal – ‘Why are you doing it?’ The answer being: ‘For me’. It’s a personal test to see if I can dig deeper and go further than I think – there’s always more in the tank.

“When you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” it says in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

What will you be riding and what equipment will you be taking with you?

I’m riding a Genesis Croix De Fer 30, Steel Reynolds 725 tubing. The model has already completed an around the world record tour with Vin Cox back in 2010, a mark that has since has been smashed by Mark Beaumont. I’ve had this bike for a few years now, so I’m making upgrades to the bike, such as a new groupset and dynamo hub from ‘Hunt Bike Wheels’, all built by friend and professional local mechanic Neil ‘The Flying Spanner’. With regard to luggage, I’ll be going full ‘Apidura’ – bike packing style. My reasons for going for such a lightweight style of luggage is that I prefer the handling of these bags as they are attached to the frame and therefore feel a little faster than a traditional pannier set-up. Also, less room means I’ll only take what I need, rather than my house on the back wheel. I’ll let you guess how many pairs of cycling shorts I’ll be taking….

Tell us about the route and why it was chosen?

I’ll be heading East around the world, setting off from Durham. The first leg of the journey will take me all the way to Istanbul (Turkey) where I’ll then take a flight to Mumbai (India); this is where the adventure really begins for me! I’ll then continue through South East Asia. You can find the whole route plan for the 18,000 mile journey on my website (please see below) on the ‘Where’s Ste?’ titled page when viewed via computer. With this in mind if anyone has any contacts, regarding places to stay, please get in touch. Essentially I’ve chosen this particular route as it’s of most interest to me; experiencing these unfamiliar places/cultures at the pace of a bike is unique in that it offers a true perspective that no other form of travel can offer.

What preparation have you undertaken for this epic journey?

I’ve always led a very active lifestyle through my work and in my own leisure time; keeping my body and mind in check is important to me. As it’s not a race and such a long journey I think having a positive mind set is the most important thing. The body will get into the routine en route however, I have been on the bike training hard and in the gym, thanks to Result Fitness, Durham. Finally, comfort is everything so I’ve really turned my attention to adjusting the bike etc. making sure the set-up is correct.

What do you think will be the most challenging aspects and how will you overcome them?

In terms of the most challenging aspects of the journey the first thing that pops into my head is probably Australia! Perth to Sydney will be a challenge. Crossing the ‘Nullarbor Plain’ with inevitable head winds and a 90-mile road stretch with nothing in-between! I’ll need to carry more water for this section also, so I have a cunning plan – watch this space. A different challenge will be staying within my budget; I have saved over the last few years to fund my epic journey but will need to be creative along the way to ensure I live within my means and reserve funds for repairs, which will be inevitable.

Why is MIND so important to you and tell me about how cycling helps your mental well-being?

Raising funds for MIND is hugely important as exercise to support one’s mental health is something I truly believe in; I’ve reaped the benefits of exercise myself for years and therefore would like to encourage everyone to use exercise as a tool to support themselves. We all deserve an escape from reality and exercise offers that – just like mindfulness – you’re in the moment. I first came across the charity when writing my dissertation (University of Worcester) which examined the role of cycling in bridging the gap between healthy mind and body. MIND has a ‘Get Set To Go’ programme aimed at engaging people, who are experiencing stress or are in the early stages of depression, in a sport they enjoy. Through sport they will reap the vital benefits of social interaction (if it’s a collective sport), become physically healthier and mentally happier.

How can people get in touch in terms of sponsorship and how can they follow your journey?

If you are interested in supporting my challenge or fundraising or simply would like to follow my journey you can visit my website . Here you will find in more detail why I’m taking on the challenge and how you can support the cause by donating to MIND through my JustGiving page. Also after April 1, when I set off, you’ll actually be able to follow my journey via a GPS map system, so you can check in to see my progress whenever you like. In addition, you will have access to daily updates, blog updates and receive notification by becoming a member of the adventure. Finally, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Wish me luck.